The problem of unobservables in strategic management research

The problem of unobservables in strategic management research In this paper we argue that unobservable constructs lie at the core of a number of influential theories used in the strategic management literature—including agency theory, transaction cost theory, and the resource‐based view of the firm. The debate over how best to deal with the problem of unobservables has raged in the philosophy of science literature for the best part of the current century. On the one hand, there are the positivists, who believe that theories containing unobservable constructs are only useful as tools for making predictions. According to positivists, such theories do not inform us about the deep structure of reality. On the other hand, there are the realists, who believe that our theories can give us knowledge about unobservables. Herein we review this debate, we argue for adopting a realist position, and we draw out the implications for strategic management research. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Strategic Management Journal Wiley

The problem of unobservables in strategic management research

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISSN
0143-2095
eISSN
1097-0266
DOI
10.1002/smj.4250160703
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In this paper we argue that unobservable constructs lie at the core of a number of influential theories used in the strategic management literature—including agency theory, transaction cost theory, and the resource‐based view of the firm. The debate over how best to deal with the problem of unobservables has raged in the philosophy of science literature for the best part of the current century. On the one hand, there are the positivists, who believe that theories containing unobservable constructs are only useful as tools for making predictions. According to positivists, such theories do not inform us about the deep structure of reality. On the other hand, there are the realists, who believe that our theories can give us knowledge about unobservables. Herein we review this debate, we argue for adopting a realist position, and we draw out the implications for strategic management research.

Journal

Strategic Management JournalWiley

Published: Jan 1, 1995

References

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