Creative destruction in science

Warren Tierney*, Jay H. Hardy, Charles R. Ebersole, Keith Leavitt, Domenico Viganola, Elena Giulia Clemente, Michael Gordon, Anna Dreber, Magnus Johannesson, Thomas Pfeiffer, Hiring Decisions Forecasting Collaboration, Eric Luis Uhlmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing on the concept of a gale of creative destruction in a capitalistic economy, we argue that initiatives to assess the robustness of findings in the organizational literature should aim to simultaneously test competing ideas operating in the same theoretical space. In other words, replication efforts should seek not just to support or question the original findings, but also to replace them with revised, stronger theories with greater explanatory power. Achieving this will typically require adding new measures, conditions, and subject populations to research designs, in order to carry out conceptual tests of multiple theories in addition to directly replicating the original findings. To illustrate the value of the creative destruction approach for theory pruning in organizational scholarship, we describe recent replication initiatives re-examining culture and work morality, working parents’ reasoning about day care options, and gender discrimination in hiring decisions. Significance statement: It is becoming increasingly clear that many, if not most, published research findings across scientific fields are not readily replicable when the same method is repeated. Although extremely valuable, failed replications risk leaving a theoretical void— reducing confidence the original theoretical prediction is true, but not replacing it with positive evidence in favor of an alternative theory. We introduce the creative destruction approach to replication, which combines theory pruning methods from the field of management with emerging best practices from the open science movement, with the aim of making replications as generative as possible. In effect, we advocate for a Replication 2.0 movement in which the goal shifts from checking on the reliability of past findings to actively engaging in competitive theory testing and theory building. Scientific transparency statement: The materials, code, and data for this article are posted publicly on the Open Science Framework, with links provided in the article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-309
Number of pages19
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Conceptual replication
  • Cultural differences
  • Direct replication
  • Falsification
  • Gender discrimination
  • Hiring decisions
  • Protestant work ethic
  • Replication
  • Theory pruning
  • Theory testing
  • Work values
  • Work-family conflict


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