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Testing macro organizational theories in laboratory experiments

Kanazawa, Satoshi ORCID: 0000-0003-3786-8797 (1999) Testing macro organizational theories in laboratory experiments. Social Science Research, 28 (1). pp. 66-87. ISSN 0049-089X

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Identification Number: 10.1006/ssre.1998.0636


Laboratory experiments provide the most rigorous method of testing scientific theories. However, their current use in organizational research is primarily limited to testing micro organizational theories where actors are individuals. I suggest the conditions under which one can test macro organizational theories in laboratory experiments, using human subjects in the role of organizations. I discuss two sequential stages of behavior (decision making and execution) and two different types of groups (democratic and dictatorial). I argue that the process of decision making in democratic groups is the only place where a logical justification is necessary for the use of human subjects in testing macro organizational theories. Using the Condorcet Jury Theorem, I demonstrate that, when four conditions are met, laboratory experiments with human subjects representstatistically conservativetests of macro theories. The four conditions are: (1) two alternative choices; (2) mean individual competence greater than .5; (3) individual decisions not too highly positively correlated; and (4) simple majority decision rule. I illustrate my argument with Hannan and Carroll's (1992) density dependence theory of organizational foundings and delineate one potential experimental design for testing the theory.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1999 Academic Press
Divisions: Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2010 11:19
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2021 03:24

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