Under a Magnifying Glass: On the Use of Experiments in Strategy Research

21 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2018 Last revised: 20 Mar 2019

See all articles by Giada Di Stefano

Giada Di Stefano

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Cédric Gutierrez

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Date Written: September 10, 2018

Abstract

The rate at which experimental studies are published in the field of strategy has steadily increased over the past few years. Still, experimental papers account for only a small fraction of strategy papers. This may not come as a surprise given the skepticism surrounding the experimental method, which is often seen as uninterested in establishing external validity, and too “micro” for a field in which the level of analysis is primarily organizational and inter-organizational. Is this skepticism founded? To what extent can experiments be a useful tool for strategy research? To answer this question, we start by examining experimental strategy papers published between 1980 and 2016. Results from the analysis alleviate doubts about the suitability of experimental methods for the study of questions of strategic interest to firms. We next discuss the main advantages associated with the use of experiments and why they make strategy an exciting field in which to be an experimentalist today.

Keywords: Causal Inference, Experiments, Decision Making, Behavioral Strategy, Apophenia, Microfoundations

Suggested Citation

Di Stefano, Giada and Gutierrez, Cédric, Under a Magnifying Glass: On the Use of Experiments in Strategy Research (September 10, 2018). Strategic Organization, Forthcoming ; HEC Paris Research Paper No. SPE-2018-1306; Bocconi University Management Research Paper No. 13. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3246861

Giada Di Stefano (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.unibocconi.eu/giadadistefano/

Cédric Gutierrez

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

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