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From the Lab to the Field and vice versa 2006 ABO Doctoral Consortium October 6, 2006 1.What is field research? 2.Why field research? Woods (WIP) Krishnan,

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Presentation on theme: "From the Lab to the Field and vice versa 2006 ABO Doctoral Consortium October 6, 2006 1.What is field research? 2.Why field research? Woods (WIP) Krishnan,"— Presentation transcript:

1 From the Lab to the Field and vice versa 2006 ABO Doctoral Consortium October 6, What is field research? 2.Why field research? Woods (WIP) Krishnan, Sedatole & Woods (WIP) 3.Doing field research

2 2 What IS field research?

3 3 less firm contact more firm contact CASE STUDY may or may not collect data descriptive rather than statistical generalizations single firm FIELD STUDY historical data or data generated in the field not publicly available typically a single firm PROPRIETARY ARCHIVAL historical data not publicly available (Hewitt & Assoc., Nielsen/NetRatings) multiple firms PUBLIC ARCHIVAL historical data publicly available (COMPUSTAT, EXECUCOMP, proxy statements) multiple firms

4 4 What IS field research? Field research is more than a quick dip in the organizational pond for institutional detail; it is a deep dive that demands involvement. Observe members … Interact with members … Participate with members … Membership (Adler and Adler 1987 taxonomy of researcher involvement)

5 5 WHY field research?

6 6 WHY Field Research? Advantages – Low likelihood of being scooped – Rich institutional detail » Assists in interpreting findings » Understanding of the data generating process » Fun to present (and to see presented) – Can turn several levers at once

7 7 WHY Field Research? Plus (on a lighter note), you dont have to… – be nice to MBA student subjects – stuff 200 envelopes – carry around wads of cash – fight for IRB approval (??)

8 8 WHY Field Research? Disadvantages – Costly … time and dollars – Generalizability (relative to n=10,000 archival studies) » sometimes difficult to publish results – Risks of … » being held hostage by research partner » losing your champion Access is always provisional. – Corporate lawyers – Quasi-experimental design » Control through measurement » No random assignment – Have to turn several levers at once

9 9 WHY Field Research? What can the field add to archival studies? Field research is more likely to detect and accommodate organizational dynamics than other empirical approaches that assume stable functional relations. (Kaplan, 1983,1984)

10 10 WHY Field Research? What can the field add to archival studies? Even if data can be obtained without field experience, » Large public databases » Large private third party databases » Firms data warehouses » Electronic alternatives to interviews, mail and telephone surveys they may not be interpretable or comparable across time or organizations. Standard measures offer increased sample size --- but sometimes at the price of meaningful data.

11 11 WHY Field Research? less firm contact more firm contact FIELD STUDY historical data or data generated in the field not publicly available typically a single firm EXPERIMENT STUDENT PROFESSIONALSUBJECTS What can the field add to laboratory studies?

12 12 WHY Field Research? less firm contact more firm contact FIELD STUDY historical data or data generated in the field not publicly available typically a single firm EXPERIMENT STUDENT PROFESSIONALSUBJECTS Extend to field? (external validity) What can the field add to laboratory studies?

13 13 WHY Field Research? less firm contact more firm contact FIELD STUDY historical data or data generated in the field not publicly available typically a single firm EXPERIMENT STUDENT PROFESSIONALSUBJECTS Inform: research question (motivation) experimental design (construct & external validity) What can the field add to laboratory studies?

14 14 WHY Field Research? EXAMPLE Subjective Performance Evaluations Deficient Accounting Performance Measures + Managers Have Private Information About Subordinate Performance = Subjective Evaluations Can Improve Incentive Contracting BUT Evidence that bias is common in subjective evaluations: empire-building leniency halo effect compression

15 15 WHY Field Research? EXAMPLE Woods (experiment) KSW (field) Subjective Performance AssessmentMeasure Evaluation Bias -Empire BuildingInduce Measure -Leniencyn/a Measure -Halon/a Measure -Compressionn/a Measure PM CharacteristicsControlMeasure DelegationManipulateMeasure Information AsymmetryManipulaten/a Do firms reap the benefits of subjective performance evaluation?

16 16 WHY Field Research? EXAMPLE Woods (WIP) (Experiment) KSW (WIP) (Field) Do firms reap the benefits of subjective performance evaluation? Complementary studies, different methodologies. To what extent do biases actually exist? Does delegation appear to mitigate empire-building? Remedies that mitigate the biases. Less costly to try in lab first!

17 17 Doing Field Research Competent field researchers, like good cooks, acquire a significant amount of knowledge about their craft as a result of hands on experience, experimentation and adaptation in the field… (Baxter and Chua 1998) » Gaining access » Developing the study

18 18 Doing Field Research: Gaining Access Local Opportunism – Formal university contacts (e.g., research centers) – Ex-students – Student internship courses – Colleagues, friends, relatives Opportunism by Design – Broad mail survey with follow-up – Cold calls based on public information – Alliances with associations and consultants Make new friends, keep the old, One is silver, and theyre both potential data sources.

19 19 Doing Field Research: Gaining Access Selling the idea – Whats in it for the research partner? » focus on real problems » expertise at the right price » impartiality… maybe Ex ante arrangements – Confidentiality agreements » Researcher retains ownership of intellectual property provides user friendly deliverable » Partner has veto power regarding confidential information guarantees speedy review – Both parties establish boundaries and constraints on the problem to be studied

20 20 Doing Field Research: Development Developing the study – Multi-method approach to data collection » Observation » Personal interviews » Proprietary archival search » Surveys – Research question is your guide » Use it as you sift through a sea of data » Iterative development of hypotheses Few field studies begin with strong hypotheses; flexible foreshadowed problems are more common starting points. Baxter & Chua 1998

21 21 USEFUL REFERENCES Anderson, S. W. and S. K. Widener Doing quantitative field research in management accounting. In C. Chapman, A. Hopwood, and M. Shields (Eds.), Handbook of management accounting research, Vol. 1. Oxford: Elsevier. Atkinson, A. A. & Shaffir, W. (1998). Standards for field research in management accounting. Journal of Management Accounting Research 10: Baxter, J. A. & Chua, W. F. (1998). Doing field research: Practice and meta-theory in counterpoint. Journal of Management Accounting Research 10: Bennis, W. G. & OToole, J. (2005). How business schools lost their way. Harvard Business Review May: Birnberg, J. G., Shields, M. D., & Young, S. M. (1990). The case for multiple methods in empirical management accounting research (with an illustration from budget setting). Journal of Management Accounting Research 2: Bruns, W. J. & Kaplan, R. S. (1987). Field studies in management accounting in Bruns, W.J. and Kaplan, R.S. (Eds) Accounting and Management: Field Study Perspectives. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. Eisenhardt, K.M. (1989). Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review 14: Ferrreira, L.D. & Merchant, K.A. (1992). Field research in management accounting and control: A review and evaluation. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 5: Hagg, I. & Hedlund, G. (1979). Case studies in accounting research. Accounting, Organizations and Society 4: Hopwood, A.G. (1983). On trying to study accounting in the contexts in which it operates. Accounting, Organizations and Society 8: Jick, T. D. (1979). Mixing qualitative and quantitative methods: Triangulation in action. Administrative Science Quarterly 24: Kaplan, R.S. (1983). Measuring manufacturing performance: A new challenge for management accounting research. The Accounting Review 63: Lillis, A.M. (1999). A framework for the analysis of interview data from multiple field research sites. Accounting and Finance 39: Merchant, K.A. & Van der Stede, W.A. (2005). Field-based research in accounting: Accomplishments and Prospects. Working Paper. University of Southern California. Moers, F. (2006). Doing Archival Research in Management Accounting. In C.S. Chapman, A.G. Hopwood, & M.D. Shields (Eds.), Handbook of Management Accounting Research (Vol. 1). Oxford: Elsevier. Shields, M.D. (1997). Research in management accounting by North Americans in the 1990s. Journal of Management Accounting Research 9: Young, S.M. (1999). Field research methods in management accounting. Accounting Horizons 13:

22 22 In conclusion… Youre at the front end of a search process to figure out who you are and where you fit. Joel Demski, New Faculty Consortium, 2001 Now is the time to take a deep breath and realize that you are in this for the long haul. Bill Kinney, The University of Texas at Austin


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