The new logic in building isomorphic theory of management decision realities

Arch G. Woodside (Department of Marketing, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA)
Eunju Ko (Department of Fashion Marketing, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea)
Tzung‐Cheng (T.C.) Huan (College of Management, National Chiayi University, Chiayi, Taiwan)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 25 May 2012



This article aims to describe ethnographic theory and research that maintains the integrity of the individual case while generalizing to multiple cases in research on management decisions. The study aims to provoke and prod management decision researchers to employ ethnographic research tools rather than relying only or mainly on the dominant logic of variable‐based empirical positivism.


Details of two studies of multiple cases in two task environments inform explicit statements of the principles necessary for bridging the gap between management decision practice and research. Six principles serve as pillars for this bridge.


Averages mislead. Partial regression coefficients inform about the impact of variables but mislead in hinting at the sufficiency of individual variables for all cases when high or low values on any one variable are not sufficient or necessary for a high or low outcome on a dependent variable. Research on management decisions must maintain the integrity of the individual case in analyzing and reporting findings on management decisions. Research tools are available now to accomplish these principles.

Research limitations/implications

Get out and into task environments of management decision makers and collect multiple rounds of emic‐etic‐emic‐etic interpretations of management decision processes and outcomes. Go to to learn how to do qualitative comparative analysis of alternative causal recipes leading to relevant management decision outcomes.


This article describes and calls for a paradigm shift from the current empirical‐positivistic matrix‐algebra dominant logic to a new case‐based Boolean‐algebra logic for management decision researchers.



Woodside, A., Ko, E. and Huan, T. (2012), "The new logic in building isomorphic theory of management decision realities", Management Decision, Vol. 50 No. 5, pp. 765-777.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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