Tips for Choosing Appropriate Level of Abstractions (especially for Chinese Researchers)

A lot of Chinese researchers simply want to imitate how top American journals in formulating theories without boundary conditions. This sounds like doing good science but more often its leads to superficial analyses that do not explain what is happening in China. I was asked to write a commentary on an article by Child and Marinova (2014) in Management and Organization Review and this gave me a chance to reflect more broadly on choosing the appropriate level of abstraction in social science Research.  The article is now published.

Reflections on Choosing the Appropriate Level of Abstraction in Social Science Research. 关于在社会科学研究中选择适当的抽象水平的反思

Abstract: Although researchers often do it subconsciously, every explanation involves choosing a level of abstraction at which the argument proceeds. The dominant North American style of research in Organization Theory, Strategy, and International Business encourages researchers to frame their explanations at the highest level of abstraction where country-level contextual factors are suppressed or ignored. Yet to provide powerful explanations for recent developments in China, researchers are drawn to a greater level of context specificity. This tension is evident in the Child and Marinova (2014) paper. One way to reduce the tension is to identify general causal mechanisms that combine in different ways to produce different results depending on context. This research strategy is more effective than seeking invariant, general patterns of development across all times and places.

Keywords: choosing level of abstraction;philosophy of social science;research design;research on industries;research on firms 选择抽象的水平;社会科学的哲学;研究设计;行业研究;企业研究

MOR Abstract

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The role of home country demand in the internationalization of new ventures

My article with Salih Ozdemir and Deepak Sardana was just published in Research Policy.

Abstract: International new ventures (INVs) have been documented to exist all around the world, but the literature is silent on the frequency of such companies in different countries. We contend that the propensity of new ventures to internationalize by forming international partnerships is higher in small-domestic demand countries because they have a greater motivation given their limited local demand. After discussing the methodological challenges in testing this hypothesis, we do such a test by studying alliances in the health segment of the biotech industry in relatively small-domestic demand countries (Australia, Israel, and Taiwan) and by comparing the results with five large-domestic demand countries (UK, Germany, France, US, and Japan). We find that young firms in the countries with smaller domestic demand are at least 3 times more likely to enter into international partnerships than their counterparts in countries with larger domestic demand. We further demonstrate that this difference can primarily be explained by the difference in the size of domestic healthcare markets rather than other underlying opportunity structure related factors.

Keywords: International new ventures; Internationalization; Small vs. large demand countries; Young biotechnology firms; International partnerships; Business development partnerships

Highlights of article

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Honoring the late Steve Klepper

Steve Klepper, who has been an inspiration to so many of us, recently passed away. At the 20th anniversary of the CCC colloquium, we honored Steve Klepper. The video captures very nicely how much Steve touched an entire generation of doctoral students working on the intersection of industry evolution and technological innovation.