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Fifty years of methodological trends in JIBS: Why future IB research needs more triangulation

Abstract

We analyze methodological trends in empirical research in JIBS from 1970 to 2019. Our results point to the prevalence of the following patterns: there has been an increase in the use of (1) large-scale longitudinal, cross-national datasets, (2) complex analytical techniques, including the incorporation of multiple analytical techniques within the same study, but (3) a decline in the diversity of methods in use. We relate these trends to the underlying social, technical, and communicative conventions in the journal during the 50-year period. The observed patterns are consistent with theory that posits scientific fields entrench a dominant paradigm over time, resulting in a restricted set of methodological options being selected. Such restrictions jeopardize the quality of research because the study of any phenomenon requires the use of multiple methodological procedures to avoid the systematic biases, errors, omissions, and limitations introduced by any single option. Therefore, we propose the use of triangulation as a strategy for building methodological alternatives into research designs. Institutionalization of this principle in the field of international business has the potential to enhance both the rigor and scope of future inquiry.

Résumé

Nous analysons les tendances méthodologiques de la recherche empirique dans le JIBS de 1970 à 2019. Nos résultats mettent en évidence la prévalence des caractéristiques suivantes : il y a eu une augmentation de l’utilisation (1) d’ensembles de données longitudinales et transnationales à grande échelle, (2) de techniques analytiques complexes, y compris le recours à plusieurs techniques analytiques au sein d’une même étude, mais (3) une diminution de la diversité des méthodes utilisées. Nous mettons ces tendances en relation avec les conventions sociales, techniques et communicatives sous-jacentes de la revue au cours de cette période de 50 ans. Les tendances observées sont conformes à la théorie selon laquelle les domaines scientifiques enracinent un paradigme dominant au fil du temps, ce qui se traduit par le choix d’un ensemble restreint d’options méthodologiques. De telles restrictions compromettent la qualité de la recherche car l’étude de tout phénomène nécessite l’utilisation de multiples procédures méthodologiques pour éviter les biais, erreurs, omissions et limitations systématiques introduits par une seule option. C’est pourquoi nous proposons d’utiliser la triangulation comme stratégie pour intégrer des alternatives méthodologiques dans les plans de recherche. L’institutionnalisation de ce principe dans le domaine de l’international business peut améliorer à la fois la rigueur et la portée des recherches futures.

Resumen

Analizamos las tendencias metodológicas en la investigación empírica en JIBS desde 1970 al 2019. Nuestros resultados apuntan a la prevalencia de los siguientes patrones: ha habido un aumento en el uso de (1) conjuntos de datos transnacionales longitudinales a gran escala, (2) técnicas analíticas complejas, incluida la incorporación de múltiples técnicas analíticas dentro del mismo estudio, pero, (3) una disminución en la diversidad de métodos en uso. Relacionamos estas tendencias a las convenciones sociales, técnicas y comunicativas en la revista durante el periodo de 50 años. Los patrones observados son consistentes con la teoría que plantea que los campos científicos afianzan un paradigma dominante a lo largo del tiempo, lo que resulta en la selección de un conjunto restringido de opciones metodológicas. Estas restricciones ponen en peligro la calidad de la investigación porque el estudio de cualquier fenómeno requiere el uso de múltiples procedimientos metodológicos para evitar los sesgos sistemáticos, errores, omisiones y limitaciones introducidas por cualquier opción única. Por lo tanto, proponemos el uso de la triangulación como estrategia para construir estrategias metodológicas en los diseños de investigación. La institucionalización de este principio en el campo de los negocios internacionales tiene el potencial de mejorar tanto el rigor como el alcance de las investigaciones futuras.

Resumo

Analisamos tendências metodológicas na pesquisa empírica no JIBS de 1970–2019. Nossos resultados apontam para a prevalência dos seguintes padrões: tem havido um aumento no uso de (1) conjuntos de dados longitudinais transnacionais em grande escala, (2) técnicas analíticas complexas, incluindo a incorporação de múltiplas técnicas analíticas dentro do mesmo estudo, mas (3) um declínio na diversidade de métodos em uso. Relacionamos essas tendências com as convenções sociais, técnicas e comunicativas fundamentais do periódico durante o período de 50 anos. Os padrões observados são consistentes com a teoria que postula que campos científicos consolidam um paradigma dominante ao longo do tempo, resultando na seleção de um conjunto restrito de opções metodológicas. Tais restrições comprometem a qualidade da pesquisa porque o estudo de qualquer fenômeno requer o uso de múltiplos procedimentos metodológicos para evitar vieses sistemáticos, erros, omissões e limitações introduzidos por qualquer opção que seja única. Portanto, propomos o uso de triangulação como uma estratégia para construir alternativas metodológicas em designs de pesquisa. A institucionalização deste princípio no campo dos negócios internacionais tem o potencial de aumentar tanto o rigor quanto o escopo da investigação de pesquisas futuras.

抽象

我们分析了1970–2019年间JIBS中的实证研究方法的趋势。我们的结果表明以下模式的普遍性:(1)大规模纵向、跨国数据集的使用在增加, (2)复杂的分析技术, 包括在同一研究中纳入多种分析技术, 但(3)所用方法的多样性在下降。我们将这些趋势与该期刊在50年间潜在的社会、技术和交流的习俗相联系。所观察到的形态与理论相吻合, 该理论假定随着时间的推移科学领域会巩固主导范式, 导致一组受限的方法选项被选择。这样的限制损害了研究的质量, 因为对任何现象的研究都需要使用多种方法程序, 以避免任何单一选择所带来的系统性的偏见、差错、遗漏和限制。因此, 我们建议将三角剖分的使用作为将方法选项构建到研究设计中的一个策略。在国际商务领域里将该原则制度化会潜力地提高未来研究的严谨性和范围。

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors wish to thank Rebecca Piekkari, Tine Köhler, Lorraine Eden, Herman Aguinis, and Jose Cortina for comments on earlier versions. We also acknowledge the helpful insights provided by participants of the Annual Responsible Research Methods Symposium, the Department of Strategy & International Business, Birmingham Business School, June 2019 and the ANZIBA Annual Conference, University of Technology Sydney, February 2020. We extend a special thank you to Sam Chidlow for his graphical support. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers and Sjoerd Beugelsdijk in particular for extraordinarily constructive feedback during the review process.

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Accepted by Sjoerd Beugelsdijk, Reviewing Editor, 8 September 2020. This article has been with the authors for three revisions.

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Nielsen, B.B., Welch, C., Chidlow, A. et al. Fifty years of methodological trends in JIBS: Why future IB research needs more triangulation. J Int Bus Stud 51, 1478–1499 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41267-020-00372-4

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Keywords

  • triangulation
  • methodological rigor
  • methods diversity
  • methods complexity
  • IB paradigm
  • methodological bandwidth
  • methodological innovation
  • methodological trends