Go forth and replicate: a revisionist account of the value of replication in management studies

This paper brings together three different accounts of the role of replication in management studies: replication as ‘scientific project’, replication as ‘socio-cultural artefact’; replication as ‘aesthetic practice’. Each of these is developed from within separate reference frames: epistemology, the sociology of science, and the philosophy of art. This offers new scope to revisit a fundamental question in management studies, namely: why is there a gap between the espoused value placed upon replication, and the actual paucity of replication studies? Each reference frame offers different insights into the nature of replication. The paper argues that by integrating all three, and by understanding the potential contribution of the philosophy of art, a more realistic account of theory development is possible; one that explains why successive calls to researchers to replicate fall on deaf ears. Despite the empirical evidence to suggest replication studies are undervalued, and the problems posed by postmodernist challenges to science, we reiterate the importance of replication.