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The search for asterisks: Compromised statistical tests and flawed theories


  • Richard A. Bettis

    Corresponding author
    1. Kenan-Flager Business School, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.A.
    • Kenan-Flager Business School, The University of North Carolina, Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department, McColl Building CB #3490, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490, U.S.A.
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  • The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and are not intended to reflect any editorial policies of the Strategic Management Journal. Will Mitchell, a fellow coeditor and friend has expressed concern that some readers may stop after reading the introduction in the mistaken belief that the paper is an SMJ Editorial and not an SMJ Research Prospective. If you are in this category I urge you to read on beyond the introductory anecdote.


This paper discusses repeated tests and the resultant reporting of statistical significance when it is actually not present. These errors interact with professional norms such as biases against both replication studies and ‘non-results’ to undermine the efficacy of our base of empirically tested theory. This raises serious issues for the future of strategic management research. Suggestions are made for dealing with these issues substantively and in terms of professional norms. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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