Inference and Replication in Strategy Science

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    Brent Goldfarb

    Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship
    Department of Management & Organization
    Robert H. Smith School of Business
    University of Maryland
    College Park, MD 20742
    Phone: 202-730-9484


Dr. Brent Goldfarb is the academic director for the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. In addition to studying the use of statistical methods for inference, Goldfarb studies entrepreneurship at the intersection between economics, finance, history, and strategy. He has a forthcoming book on when new technologies lead to bubbles. Dr. Goldfarb earned a Ph.D. in Economics at Stanford University.


Replication will not resolve problems of the reliability of research results in strategy science, or in fields which rely heavily on the use of archival data. I explore why replication works theoretically. I then demonstrate that narrow-replications (i.e., precise reproductions of empirical exercises) do not solve epistemological problems associated with selection of particular models and theories. Quasi-replications, in which theoretical implications are explored in new settings and with new measures suffer from Leamer’s “using up the data problem” that also plagues initial studies. The combined use of randomization, bounds analysis, and abductive reasoning can help alleviate inference problems in strategy research. I end with some tips of how to future-proof writing.

Digital Reader: Resources Recommended by the Speaker

Bettis, Richard A., Constance E. Helfat, and J. Myles Shaver. 2016. “The Necessity, Logic, and Forms of Replication: The Necessity, Logic, and Forms of Replication.” Strategic Management Journal 37(11): 2193–2203.

Gelman, Andrew. 2014. “Confirmationist and Falsificationist Paradigms of Science – Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science.” Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science. September 5, 2014.

Goldfarb, Brent, and Andrew A. King. 2016. “Scientific Apophenia in Strategic Management Research: Significance Tests & Mistaken Inference.” Strategic Management Journal 37(1): 167–176.

Heckman, James J., and Burton Singer. 2017. “Abducting Economics.” The American Economic Review 107(5): 298–302.

Leamer, Edward E. 1983. “Let’s Take the Con Out of Econometrics.” The American Economic Review 73(1): 31–43.

Leamer, Edward E. 1985. “Sensitivity Analyses Would Help.” The American Economic Review 75 (3): 308–313.

Leamer, E. E. 1978. Specification Searches: Ad Hoc Inference with Nonexperimental Data. John Wiley & Sons Incorporated.

Simcoe, Timothy. n.d. “Empirical Etiquette.” Accessed February 15, 2018.

Simmons, Joseph P., Leif D. Nelson, and Uri Simonsohn. 2011. “False-Positive Psychology Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant.” Psychological Science 22 (11):1359–1366.