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The Ombudsman: Reaping Benefits from Management Research: Lessons from the Forecasting Principles Project


  • J. Scott Armstrong

    () (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6340)

  • Ruth Pagell

    () (Goizueta Business Library, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322)


It is often claimed that managers do not read serious research papers in journals. If true, this neglect would seem to pose a problem because journals are the dominant source of knowledge in management science. By examining results from the forecasting principles project, which was designed to summarize all useful knowledge in forecasting, we found that journals have provided 89 percent of the useful knowledge. However, journal papers relevant to practice are difficult to find because fewer than three percent of papers on forecasting contain useful findings. That turns out to be about one useful paper per month over the last half century. Once found, papers are difficult to interpret. Managers need low-cost, easily accessible sources that summarize advice (principles) from research; journals do not meet this need. To increase the rate of progress in developing and communicating principles, researchers, journal editors, textbook writers, software developers, Web-site designers, and practitioners should make some changes. We offer some examples: Researchers should directly study forecasting principles. Journal editors should actively solicit papers; invited submissions were about 20 times better than standard submissions at producing useful findings that were often cited, and they do so at lower cost. Textbook writers should focus on principles so that readers can apply knowledge. Web-site and software developers should provide practitioners with low-cost ways to use principles. Practitioners should apply the principles that are currently available.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Scott Armstrong & Ruth Pagell, 2003. "The Ombudsman: Reaping Benefits from Management Research: Lessons from the Forecasting Principles Project," Interfaces, INFORMS, vol. 33(6), pages 91-111, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:orinte:v:33:y:2003:i:6:p:91-111
    DOI: 10.1287/inte.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Green, Kesten C., 2002. "Forecasting decisions in conflict situations: a comparison of game theory, role-playing, and unaided judgement," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 321-344.
    2. J. Scott Armstrong, 1996. "The Ombudsman: Management Folklore and Management Science—On Portfolio Planning, Escalation Bias, and Such," Interfaces, INFORMS, vol. 26(4), pages 25-55, August.
    3. Chatfield, Chris, 1993. "Calculating Interval Forecasts: Reply," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 11(2), pages 143-144, April.
    4. Chatfield, Chris, 1993. "Calculating Interval Forecasts," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 11(2), pages 121-135, April.
    5. Makridakis, Spyros & Hibon, Michele, 2000. "The M3-Competition: results, conclusions and implications," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 451-476.
    6. Armstrong, J. Scott, 2003. "Discovery and communication of important marketing findings: Evidence and proposals," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 69-84, January.
    7. Laband, David N & Piette, Michael J, 1994. "Favoritism versus Search for Good Papers: Empirical Evidence Regarding the Behavior of Journal Editors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 194-203, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Fildes & Paul Goodwin, 2007. "Against Your Better Judgment? How Organizations Can Improve Their Use of Management Judgment in Forecasting," Interfaces, INFORMS, vol. 37(6), pages 570-576, December.


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