Two Strategies for Inductive Reasoning
Quite often I find myself reading papers where there is an interesting case (study) presented, but after reading the full paper I have and empty feeling and ask myself; So what? Who cares? For what reason is this relevant beyond the specific observation? In most cases this is probably a consequence of my limited cognitive capacity, but once in a while I believe it is also a result of incompleteness of inductive reasoning.
Incompleteness of inductive reasoning presents an enduring dilemma for organizational researchers. We examine two practical reasoning strategies—idealization and contextualization—that can be used at the pinnacle of this dilemma: when theoretical conclusions are drawn from empirical data. Understanding the two strategies can lead to more effective argumentation and evaluation. Appreciating the methodological incompleteness of both strategies, in turn, helps us distinguish between the methodological and the policy dimensions of organization-scientific debates.