Session Intro - Research Methods Division | Academy of Management

New Unobtrusive Methods:
Leveraging Technology to Advance
Organizational Research
PDW Sponsored by the
Research Methods Division
"Today, the dominant mass of social
science research is based upon interviews
and questionnaires. We lament this
overdependence upon a single, fallible
method. Interviews and questionnaires
intrude as a foreign element into the
social setting they would describe, they
create as well as measure attitudes, they
elicit atypical roles and responses, they
are limited to those who are accessible
and will cooperate, and the responses
obtained are produced in part by
dimensions of individual differences
irrelevant to the topic at hand."
Webb, Campbell, Schwartz, & Sechrest (1966)
Unobtrusive methods
Webb et al. were ahead of their time…
Barriers to using Webb et al.’s approaches
• Time-intensive methods
– Data collection
– Data processing
• Difficult to scale to for organizational research
Technological barrier busters in recent decades
• Digital revolution
• Networked infrastructure
• Exponentially increasing PC capabilities
• Miniaturization of computing
• Advances in statistical modeling + machine learning
Unobtrusive methods: Old & new
Interactive Introductions
1. Stand up (if you choose )
2. Form a group of three or four and introduce yourselves
3. Quick brainstorm and plan to share your idea:
Identify a way to unobtrusively measure the
conscientiousness of members of different AOM
divisions? (e.g., How conscientious are OB vs. BPS vs.
OMT members?)
Assume an unlimited budget. Take some scientific
liberties, and be creative!
Goals of Today’s Session
• Heighten awareness of the value and potential
applications of novel unobtrusive methods for
organizational research.
• Promote critical thinking about the costs and benefits,
as well as the limitations of novel unobtrusive methods.
• Increase understanding of how to get started using four
specific unobtrusive methods in your research.
• Connect researchers who have used and/or are
planning to use novel unobtrusive methods in their
Plan for the afternoon
1. Didactic presentations (11:30 to 12:45)
Email data, Adam Kleinbaum
Computer-assisted video coding, Kristin Smith-Crowe
Digital trace data, Brad Staats
Wearable sensors, Karren Watkins
2. Discussion (12:55 to 1:40)
• Panel discussion + Q&A, All presenters and attendees
• Through the eyes of an editor, Stuart Bunderson
3. Breakout roundtables (1:40 to 2:10)
• Presenters will facilitate focused roundtables
• Time to ask nuanced and detailed questions (get in the weeds)
4. Closing & next steps (Knight)
Next Steps
Access materials and resources from this session, as well
as contribute your own materials and resources:
Research Methods Division’s new website
Call for Abstracts
• Alternative research methods track @ the 7th Biennial
POS Research Conference
• June 23-24, 2015, Lake Buena Vista, FL
• Abstract submission between Sep, 2014 and Dec 1, 2014
• Submit abstracts to [email protected]
• See
Adam Kleinbaum
Kristin Smith-Crowe
Karren Watkins
Jaime Potter
Andrew Knight
Bradley Staats
Sigal Barsade
Stuart Bunderson

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