Mixed-method to deal with complexity in economic research

Please cite the paper as:
Thi Ngoc Bich NGO, (2017), Mixed-method to deal with complexity in economic research, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 2 2017, Economic Philosophy: Complexities in Economics, 2nd October to 30th November 2017


Despite the fact that mathematical deductivist models in line with positivism are mostly considered as the conventional way to do economic research, those have been criticised for failing to deal with social complexities. The complexities in economics may come from two sources, the objects of economic research, and the approaches toward these objects. The main objects of economic research, social phenomena, are complex as it involves social interactions between individuals and institutions under the specific influencing environment. Therefore, for complex social realities, they requires economic research to obtain social ontology. This definitely goes beyond mathematical deductivists models and positivism, which often ignore this matter. Acknowledging the limitations of the conventional approaches from philosophical perspectives, there are two main ways to bring economics closer to social realities. Some propose alternative models with the aid of advanced econometrics and computational tools (Arthur, 2013). However, the underlying principle of this approach is still to isolate phenomena from its surrounding and potential causal mechanism. For this reason, alternative models hardly escape from criticisms as of their counterparts, i.e. mathematical deductivist models. In other words, economic models do not solve the root of methodological problems in economics. Based on the work of Lawson (2009) and his commentators like Downward and Mearman (2007), this paper argues for the use of mixed-method in economics research. It turns out that mixed-method is evidently used in a number of economic research like poverty and innovation. Additionally, mixed-method appears to respond to the inquiries made by some economists like Hebert Simon to make proper observations in economics. And, mixed-method has some supportive philosophical foundations, e.g. from critical realism alike.

NB This paper does not specify any industries/companies/institutions.

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