In Search of Valid Results in a Complex Economic Environment: The Potential of Meta-Analysis and Value Transfer

F. Bal, P. Nijkamp

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The rapidly increasing dissemination of rising volumes of scientific results exhibits features of complex dynamic systems and also brings to light (seemingly) inconsistencies among research findings from different sources. At the same time, there is a growing need for synthesizing diverse research results and this explains the fast growing interest in comparative studies and related research tools such as meta-analysis and value transfer. Recently, several studies have been published in the economic literature with the aim of exploring the potential of meta-analysis. Simultaneously, a body of studies has become available which tests the performance of value transfer in a direct way, especially in the field of economic evaluation. The results from previous, independently undertaken studies are then compared with the results generated by value transfer: one of the independent studies is chosen as a study site and serves as a benchmark for value transfer, while the other site is treated as the policy site. Distinct studies show that the socio-economic values obtained for the policy site via value transfer do not necessarily comply with the results obtained from the independently undertaken study at that site. This paper will offer a critical methodological contribution to the discovery of sources of structural problems underlying the application of value transfer and the creation of new knowledge in economics. The paper aims to provide both new insights into research synthesis by considering value transfer in the light of modern quantitative economic analysis and a formal analytical framework for the applicability of value transfer in economic research. Throughout the paper, simple cases will serve as illustrations for our arguments; the relevance however covers the whole of the economics discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-384
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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