The ABCs of Empirical Corporate (Governance) Research

Adams, Renée (2017) The ABCs of Empirical Corporate (Governance) Research. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 25 (6). pp. 461-464.


As scientists, we are conditioned to constantly look for new methods to advance our knowledge. But, sometimes we can achieve our goals more easily by using old methods better. This commentary lists some ABCs of empirical work that I think are useful to remember. The term “ABCs” is deliberate. It serves as a reminder that one can write excellent papers if one gets the basics right. It is also a reminder that one must master the basics before one can credibly use new techniques. As Hamermesh (2000, p. 378) says: “Before we resort to wizardry we should be certain that we do not add confusion by making mistakes with simpler techniques”.

These ABCs are based on my experience, my reading of the literature and on my extensive experience as a referee and editor. Until it became untenable, I used to have a policy that I would referee at least once for any journal that asked me. As a result, I have refereed a substantial number of papers at more than 40 journals at all levels of impact across a variety of different disciplines (e.g. finance, economics, accounting, management, and psychology). I’ve also been an associate editor, special issue editor and now editor. As a result, I’ve followed the progress of a substantial number of papers at the journals and know what referees complain about.

My ABCs are not exhaustive, nor are they meant to be. Doing empirical work is a craft (e.g. Hamermesh, 2000). Real world data typically does not satisfy the assumptions of the models. Often, we do not even know what the right model is, i.e. there is model uncertainty. As a result, the same problem can be approached in different ways. Compelling empirical work combines methodological tools with creativity, critical thinking, intuition, judgement, taste and writing skills. As such, it would be difficult, and even counterproductive, to try to formalize an exhaustive list of ABCs for doing empirical work. The “ABCs” depend, in large part, on the research question. As our questions evolve, so will the ABCs.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Corporate Governance, Research, Methods, Assumptions, Causality, Writing, finance
Subject(s): Finance
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2018 11:09
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2018 10:39
Funders: N/A

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