Edited by Raymond J.G.M. Florax, Peter Nijkamp and Kenneth G. Willis
Chapter 3: The ceteris paribus clause in the context of meta-analysis and value transfer
Frans Bal, Peter Nijkamp 1 INTRODUCTION The process of knowledge acquisition in the social sciences, and hence also in economics, is usually based on a reductionist approach. This means that a complex reality (or a complex phenomenon) is reduced to a limited set of common distinct features which serve as abstract descriptors of relevant aspects of the subject matter concerned. Clearly, this reduction process eliminates many person-speciﬁc, object-speciﬁc or site-speciﬁc characteristics of a phenomenon, but the major advantage is that it allows for generalization through a common standardized approach that is applicable to a larger population. This methodology lies also at the heart of meta-analysis, which seeks to synthesize research ﬁndings from diﬀerent case studies (van den Bergh et al., 1997; van den Bergh and Button, 1997, 1999). Through the use of common relevant descriptors (behavioural, methodological, contextual) it is possible to draw inferences from a large sample of cases. When such cases are designed from a joint conceptual and experimental background, the degree of controllability is obviously higher, so that more solid conclusions may be drawn (see also Yin, 1994). But also in the case of semi-controlled (or even non-controlled) experimentation meta-analysis allows us to account for commonality and speciﬁcity. In the same vein, we may consider the use of value (or beneﬁt) transfer, mainly in the ﬁeld of environmental economics (Johnson and Button, 1997). By assuming uniformity in behavioural response of economic actors regarding environmental goods, it is in principle possible to...
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