Abstract: The social dilemma paradigm is popular across many domains of the social sciences because it is a metaphor for understanding the practically significant problem of resource scarcity in organizations, communities, and nations. However, there is a “significant difference” between findings being statistically significant and practically significant. Using the population of empirical social-dilemma articles published from 1970 to 2013 in top-tier management and social psychology journals, we examine how social-dilemma scholars uses the ideas of statistical and practical significance in their research. We find (a) the majority of the studies equate incorrectly statistical significance with practical significance; (b) the practice of equating statistical and practical significance is just as prevalent now as in the 1970s; (c) having multiple authors on the article makes the practice worse compared to when the article is single-authored; and (d) articles that are motivated by real-world social dilemmas do no better in the practice than do “exclusively theoretical” articles.
Bio: Matthew W. McCarter is an assistant professor of management at the College of Business, University of Texas – San Antonio. He received his Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interest is conflict management with a particular interest in cooperation, competition, and social dilemmas in organizational settings. His work on conflict management has appeared in such outlets as Academy of Management Review, Journal of Business Logistics, Journal of Operations Management, and Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes.
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