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Critical essay: meta-analysis: a critical realist critique and alternative

Brannan, Matthew J., Fleetwood, Steve, O'Mahoney, Joe and Vincent, Steve 2017. Critical essay: meta-analysis: a critical realist critique and alternative. Human Relations 70 (1) , pp. 11-39. 10.1177/0018726716674063

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Meta-analysis as proved increasingly popular in management and organisation studies as a way of combining existing empirical quantitative research to generate a statistical estimate of how strongly variables are associated. Whilst a number of studies identify methodological, technical, procedural and practical limitations of meta-analyses, none have yet tackled the meta-theoretical flaws in this approach. We deploy critical realist meta-theory to argue that the individual quantitative studies upon which meta-analysis is based, rooted as they are in quasi-empiricist meta-theory, lack explanatory power. Unfortunately, this problem carries over into MA, meaning the explanations contained in MA are as lacking in explanatory power as the individual quantitative studies upon which they are based. We then move on to show how critical realist meta-theory can guide a critical realist synthesis.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0018-7267
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 June 2017
Date of Acceptance: 2 September 2016
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2021 17:00

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