Experimental designs in management and leadership research: Strengths, limitations, and recommendations for improving publishability

Philip M. Podsakoff, Nathan P Podsakoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Despite the renewed interest in the use of experimental designs in the fields of leadership and management over the past few decades, these designs are still relatively underutilized. Although there are several potential reasons for this, chief among them is misunderstanding the value of these designs. The purpose of this article is to review the role of laboratory, field, and quasi-experimental designs in management and leadership research. We first discuss the primary goals of experimental studies. Next, we examine the characteristics of experimental designs and how to distinguish laboratory, field, and quasi-experiments from one another and from non-experimental studies. Following these discussions, we provide examples of each type of experimental design and discuss their relative strengths and limitations. Finally, we discuss steps that researchers can take to increase the probability of having articles reporting experiments accepted by leadership and management journals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLeadership Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Causal inference
  • Experimental designs
  • Field experiments
  • Laboratory experiments
  • Quasi-experiments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Cite this