When Theory Is Not Enough: Imprinting, Inertia, And Non-Linear Dynamic Effects

2017-01-31 10:24:45

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business invites you to Research Seminar “WHEN THEORY IS NOT ENOUGH: IMPRINTING, INERTIA, AND NON-LINEAR DYNAMIC EFFECTS” by Ralitza Nikolaeva

WHEN: Tuesday, January 31st, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

WHERE: Block C3 (GSB/GSPP Building), 3rd floor, Room 3038

Seminar Announcement (Ralitza Nikolaeva)


There are two significant problems with the fundamental advancement of empirical research in the management sciences – there is very little theory regarding temporal effects and methodologies to measure complex relationshipsare not well known.  In addition, the predominant hypothetico-deductive approach to research in the discipline discourages adventurous discoveries. The goal of this study is to chip away at these concerns with an example of a firm survival study.  First, we present theoretical arguments based on the notions of imprinting of initial conditions and inertia as to why survival determinant effects would change as firms age.  The mechanisms of imprinting and inertia affect firms’ awareness of which capabilities need more investment.  As capabilities change over time, firms’ interaction with the environment changes as well.  Second, we comment on an essential, but frequently omitted assumption of the most popular survival model in management – proportional hazards in Cox regression.  We suggest a flexible method to account for time-varying effects by interacting covariates with fractional polynomials of time.  Third, addressing the proportionality assumption is a good example of how methodological rigor can be a vehicle of discovery for fine-tuning theories.  We propose a method-driven inductive approach to improvement of hypotheses.  We provide an application with survival determinants in e-commerce.  Compared to a constant effects model, the dynamic model provides a better fit and conforms to plausible theoretical extensions.  Specifically, most of the independent variables’ effects change over time illustrating the gravity of the problem of assuming constant effects.  Based on our findings, we recommend that researchers incorporate a check of the proportionality assumption as a routine procedure in the estimation of proportional hazards regressions.  Perhaps, it might lead to better theories.


Ralitza Nikolaeva has previously taught at ISCTE – Instituto Universitario de Lisboa (Portugal), University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Purdue University and GISMA Business School (Germany). Her research is broadly based in the diffusion cycle of new technologies and markets. She is currently working on institutional and cognitive drivers of adoption of practices including social innovations. Dr. Nikolaeva’s research has been published in top international scholarly journals; she is also Editor of Global Economics and Management Review and a member of the Editorial Board of Management Decision. Dr. Nikolaeva has won two case writing awards by the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (Marketing EDGE, New York) and has presented her research at numerous international conferences. She is a member of the Academy of Marketing Science, the European Marketing Academy, and the European Academy of Management. Dr. Nikolaeva is also a co-founder and trustee of the non-profit Initiative for Social Empowerment based in London, Rome and Sofia.