New Insight from Old Data

15 February 2011 at 1:10 am 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

A few years ago Mike Sykuta and I met with Ronald Coase to discuss ways to add contract documents to the CORI library. Limited contract data from secondary sources, like large-company public filings, are readily available, but how to get a larger variety of contract types, such as the long-term supply agreements of particular interest to Coase? Firms are naturally reluctant to make these available to researchers. Coase’s suggestion was to pursue obsolete contracts from company archives. Old contracts, after all, should be as good as current ones for examining hypotheses about contract design and performance, and firms presumably don’t care if they’re made public.

A recent HBR article implores companies to make use of archived datasets, and the advice applies to academic researchers as well. “For example, a retailer that has kept and labeled its old POS data could now subject it to today’s sophisticated analytical techniques, gaining a valuable understanding of long-term consumer trends.” Likewise, revisiting old data with new and better econometrics, more careful attention to research design (e.g., identification), and sharper hypotheses could generate some interesting findings.

In strategy and entrepreneurship research, everybody wants to study the same stuff: pharma and biotech patenting, R&D alliances, technology IPOs, etc. On the margin, a clever study of an old industry, old data, an old problem, could create a lot of value.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Business/Economic History, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science. Tags: .

Counterintuitive Research Result of the Day Not Entirely Sure I Got This…

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. srp  |  15 February 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Amen.

  • 2. Warren Miller  |  16 February 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I’m w/Steve. Great thought, Peter. I’ll bet GM could use something like that. . .if it can survive long enough to make use of the findings.

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Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Peter G. Klein and Micheal E. Sykuta, eds., The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010).
Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
Richard N. Langlois, The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy (Routledge, 2007).
Nicolai J. Foss, Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, eds., Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Elgar, 2002).
Nicolai J. Foss and Volker Mahnke, eds., Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research (Oxford, 2000).
Nicolai J. Foss and Paul L. Robertson, eds., Resources, Technology, and Strategy: Explorations in the Resource-based Perspective (Routledge, 2000).

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