Marc Orlitzky, Penn State University, published “How Can Significance Tests Be Deinstitutionalized?” on December 12th, 2011 in Organizational Research Methods. To read other OnlineFirst articles, please click here.
The purpose of this article is to propose possible solutions to the methodological problem of null hypothesis significance testing (NHST), which is framed as deeply embedded in the institutional structure of the social and organizational sciences. The core argument is that, for the deinstitutionalization of statistical significance tests, minor methodological changes within an unreformed epistemology will be as unhelpful as emotive exaggerations of the ill effects of NHST. Instead, several institutional-epistemological reforms affecting cultural-cognitive, normative, and regulative processes and structures in the social sciences are necessary and proposed in this article. In the conclusion, the suggested research reforms, ranging from greater emphasis on inductive and abductive reasoning to statistical modeling and Bayesian epistemology, are classified according to their practical importance and the time horizon expected for their implementation. Individual-level change in researchers’ use of NHST is unlikely if it is not facilitated by these broader epistemological changes.
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