I agree generally with your summary of the articles. I’d like to discuss some implications in the Gibbert et al. article you introduced in relation to this week’s topic of writing.
There is quite a lot of skill required to read an academic article. Guides like the Pasadena one or the Elder and Paul “Art of close reading” that was one of our required readings, tend to be compilations of advice handed out bit-style. It’s even possible to turn a how-to book on writing upside down into a how-to book on reading. Yet, in none of these texts do we see any discussion on why we read. It’s this question that I’d like to find more about, Wolfgang, in your sector. I think that if we know the why more, we may be able to judge better how we can write.
My naive mind tells me that business managers focus on the bottom line, the net profit. It seems reasonable, then, to think that reading has a purpose of increasing profits, somehow and down the line. There will be cost-benefit analyses required about R&D and long-term planning, but ultimately, the purpose of reading will have some relation to profit. Likewise, the ultimate purpose in reading EFL studies is to improve some aspects of learning and teaching.
With this ultimate purpose in mind, the reason for a lot of reading becomes clear. We can, for example, skip around an article just to hunt for that elusive piece of information that helps. Or we can read a case study to see if the environment is similar enough to our own to merit some kind of replication. Or we can analyse a new/ different technique to see if it may offer another tool for our own professional use.
The journal is the Strategic Management Journal whose readership will be top-level professionals in the business training or research fields. Gibbert et al. offer a few reasons case studies were popular in the top management journals. I’d like to offer another, and my suggestion ties in the reason that external validity was so important to the lower-tier of journals. Is this suggestion plausible? Correct me if I’m way off the mark here. Business thinkers have the bottom-line mentality. Case studies that do not focus on external validity will be seen to be less generalisable. If something successful in the business environment cannot be exported, the attractiveness of the case study will be lower. My argument is base, I know, but the purpose of reading such case studies will be to see if more profits are possible (or a better management system that results down the line in more employee retention, more streamlined systems and, you guessed it, more profit).
More rigorous case study design doesn’t necessarily lead to less external validity (indeed it shouldn’t), but the writers know that their articles will have a higher chance of being published if they focus on the purpose of the reader. It was interesting that the higher-tier journals didn’t have this feature. More integrity, perhaps?
Pasadena City College. (n.d.). How to read and take notes on a scholarly article. Retrieved from: http://www.pasadena.edu/hstutoringlab/writing/writingscholarlyarticle.cfm
Paul, R & Elder, L. (nd.). The art of close reading. Retrieved from: http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/the-art-of-close-reading-part-one/509