Bad to Good

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Achieving High Quality and Impact in Your Research



Table of contents

(9 chapters)


Pages i-ix
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The introductory chapter includes how to design-in good practices in theory, data collection procedures, analysis, and interpretations to avoid these bad practices. Given that bad practices in research are ingrained in the career training of scholars in sub-disciplines of business/management (e.g., through reading articles exhibiting bad practices usually without discussions of the severe weaknesses in these studies and by research courses stressing the use of regression analysis and structural equation modeling), this editorial is likely to have little impact. However, scholars and executives supporting good practices should not lose hope. The relevant literature includes a few brilliant contributions that can serve as beacons for eliminating the current pervasive bad practices and for performing highly competent research.


This chapter describes tenets of complexity theory including the precept that within the same set of data X relates to Y positively, negatively, and not at all. A consequence to this first precept is that reporting how X relates positively to Y with and without additional terms in multiple regression models ignores important information available in a data set. Performing contrarian case analysis indicates that cases having low X with high Y and high X with low Y occur even when the relationship between X and Y is positive and the effect size of the relationship is large. Findings from contrarian case analysis support the necessity of modeling multiple realities using complex antecedent configurations. Complex antecedent configurations (i.e., 2–7 features per recipe) can show that high X is an indicator of high Y when high X combines with certain additional antecedent conditions (e.g., high A, high B, and low C) – and low X is an indicator of high Y as well when low X combines in other recipes (e.g., high A, low R, and high S), where A, B, C, R, and S are additional antecedent conditions. Thus, modeling multiple realities – configural analysis – is necessary, to learn the configurations of multiple indicators for high Y outcomes and the negation of high Y. For a number of X antecedent conditions, a high X may be necessary for high Y to occur but high X alone is almost never sufficient for a high Y outcome.


This chapter proposes moving beyond relying on the dominant logic of multiple regression analysis (MRA) toward thinking and using algorithms in advancing and testing theory in accounting, consumer research, finance, management, and marketing. The chapter includes an example of testing an MRA model for fit and predictive validity. The same data used for the MRA is used to conduct a fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). The chapter reviews a number of insights by prominent scholars including Gerd Gigerenzer’s treatise that “Scientists’ tools are not neutral.” Tools impact thinking and theory crafting as well theory testing. The discussion may be helpful for early career scholars unfamiliar with David C. McClelland’s brilliance in data analysis and in introducing business research scholars to fsQCA as an alternative tool for theory development and data analysis.


This chapter points out that the use of a wide range of theoretical paradigms in marketing research requires researchers to use a broad range of methodologies. As an aid in doing so, the chapter argues for the use of case study research (CSR), defines CSR, and describes several CSR theories and methods that are useful for describing, explaining, and forecasting processes occurring in business-to-business (B2B) contexts. The discussion includes summaries of six B2B case studies spanning more than 60 years of research. This chapter advocates embracing the view that learning and reporting objective realities of B2B processes is possible using CSR methods. CSR methods in the chapter include using multiple interviews (2 + ) separately of multiple persons participating in B2B processes, direct research and participant observation, decision systems analysis, degrees-of-freedom analysis, ethnographic-decision-tree-modeling, content analysis, and fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fs/ The discussion advocates rejecting the dominant logic of attempting to describe and explain B2B processes by arms-length fixed-point surveys that usually involve responses from one executive per firm with no data-matching of firms in specific B2B relationships – such surveys lack details and accuracy necessary for understanding, describing, and forecasting B2B processes.


This chapter describes the complementary benefits of model-building and data analysis using algorithm and statistical modeling methods in the context of unobtrusive marketing field experiments and in transforming findings into isomorphic-management models. Relevant for marketing performance measurement, case-based configural analysis is a relatively new paradigm in crafting and testing theory. Statistical testing of hypotheses to learn net effects of individual terms in MRA equations is the current dominant logic. Isomorphic modeling might best communicate what executives should decide using the findings from algorithm and statistical models. Data testing these propositions here uses data from an unobtrusive field experiment in a retailing context and includes two levels of expertise, four price points, and presence versus absence of a friend (“pal” condition) during the customer-salesperson interactions (n = 240 store customers). The analyses support the conclusion that all three approaches to modeling provide useful complementary information substantially above the use of one or the other alone and that transforming findings from such models into isomorphic-management models is possible.


Recognizing Gigerenzer’s (1991) dictum that scientists’ tools are not neutral (tools-in-use influence theory formulation as well as data interpretation), this chapter reports theory and examines data in ways that transcend the dominant logics for variable-based and case-based analyses. The theory and data analysis tests key propositions in complexity theory: (1) no single antecedent condition is a sufficient or necessary indicator of a high score in an outcome condition; (2) a few of many available complex configurations of antecedent conditions are sufficient indicators of high scores in an outcome condition; (3) contrarian cases occur, that is, low scores in a single antecedent condition associates with both high and low scores for an outcome condition for different cases; (4) causal asymmetry occurs, that is, accurate causal models for high scores for an outcome condition are not the mirror opposites of causal models for low scores for the same outcome condition. The study tests and supports these propositions in the context of customer assessments (n = 436) of service facets and service-outcome evaluations for assisted temporary-transformations of self via beauty salon and spa treatments. The findings contribute to advancing a nuanced theory of how customers’ service evaluations relate to their assessments of overall service quality and intentions to use the service. The findings support the need for service managers to be vigilant in fine-tuning service facets and service enactment to achieve the objective of high customer retention.


This chapter describes and tests the principles of configural theory in the context of hospitality frontline service employees’ happiness-at-work and managers’ assessments of these employees’ quality of work performances. The study proposes and tests empirically a configural asymmetric theory of the antecedents to hospitality employee happiness-at-work and managers’ assessments of employees’ quality of work performance. The findings confirm and go beyond prior statistical findings of small-to-medium effect sizes of happiness-performance relationships. The method includes matching cases of data from surveys of employees (n = 247) and surveys completed by their managers (n = 43) and uses qualitative comparative analysis via the software program The findings support the four principles of configural analysis and theory construction: recognize equifinality of different solutions for the same outcome; test for asymmetric solutions; test for causal asymmetric outcomes for very high versus very low happiness and work performance; and embrace complexity. The theory and findings confirm that configural theory and research resolves perplexing happiness–performance conundrums. The study provides algorithms involving employees’ demographic characteristics and their assessments of work facet-specifics which are useful for explaining very high happiness-at-work and high quality-of-work performance (as assessed by managers) – as well as algorithms explaining very low happiness and very low quality-of-work performance.


Pages 293-306
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