Date of this Version
In general, I thought that the Boal and Willis "Note on the Armstrong/Mitroff Debate" provided an interesting and fair discussion. The summary of the consequences of the subjective versus objective approaches (Table 1 in their paper) was helpful. It clearly outlined the dilemma faced by scientists: "Should I strive for personal gain or for scientific contributions?" It also described what is likely to happen to the theories generated from the subjective and objective approaches. For example, the authors claimed that the subjective approach will yield a fuller hearing for a theory.
Given my preference for empirical evidence, I was disappointed that Boal and Willis had little evidence to report. Fortunately, recent research has been done on the above topics. This research supports some of Boal and Willis's conclusions, but it falsifies their conclusion that the subjective approach will provide a fuller hearing for theories.
The evidence seems consistent with Boal and Willis's summary of the conflict between the advancement of scientists and scientific advancement. My summary of the empirical evidence on this conflict led to the "Author's Formula" (Armstrong, 1982a, p. 197). This states that scientists who are interested in career advancement should: (a) not select an important problem, (b) not challenge existing beliefs, (c) not obtain surprising results, (d) not use simple methods, (e) not provide full disclosure, and (f) not write clearly. These rules for scientists conflict with the aims of science. Unfortunately, many scientists use these rules and profit from them. Those who break the rules are often dealt with harshly by the scientific community.
Armstrong, J. S. (1983). The Importance of Objectivity and Falsification in Management Science. Retrieved from http://repository.upenn.edu/marketing_papers/111
Date Posted: 15 June 2007
This document has been peer reviewed.