Abductive Reasoning – Definition

Cite this article as:"Abductive Reasoning – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated February 10, 2019, last accessed September 23, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/abductive-reasoning-definition/.

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What is Abductive Reasoning Definition

The abductive reasoning method is the logical process of making observations and seeking the hypothesis that would best fit or explain those observations. Simply put, a list of incomplete observations is analyzed to create the best prediction (hypothesis to explain the observation).

Abductive reasoning is an integral part of the scientific process and the formation of hypotheses. Abductive reasoning is commonly employed by physicians who identify symptoms and develop a hypothesis concerning the ailment.

Deductive Reasoning is unique from Deductive and Inductive Reasoning.

A Little More on What is Abductive Reasoning

Abductive reasoning begins as an incomplete observation and results in a hypothesis to explain the correlation of the observations. In contrast to deductive reasoning, abductive reasoning yields a result that is plausible without being verified. Deductive reasoning seeks to verify an observation based upon facts or universal understandings.

With abductive reasoning, there remains a certain level of doubt. Abductive reasoning is often referred to as an inference to the best explanation.

Abductive reasoning is commonly used in hypothesis creation in scientific fields. Science recognizes the following four commonly used forms of abductive reasoning:

  • Logic-Based Abduction – This means deriving multiple hypotheses from a set of observations and using logic to pick the best or more probable one.
  • Set Cover Abduction – This means deriving a group of hypotheses whose effect contains all observed manifestations of the situation.
  • Abductive Validation (successive approximation) – A hypothesis is valid if it is a simple and elegant explanation of largely unknown data or information.
  • Subjective LogicAbduction – This is a subcategory of abductive validation. It entails assigning subjective opinion as a variable in a probabilistic determination.

Academic Research for Abductive Reasoning

  • Abductive reasoning in logistics research, Kovács, G., & Spens, K. M. (2005). Abductive reasoning in logistics research. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 35(2), 132-144.  The purpose of the study was to create a framework for discussing three primary research approaches in regards to logistics. This was accomplished through the review of three major logistics journals. The research found that deductive reasoning as the primary method while indicating a need for increased utilization h inductive and abductive reasoning in the hypotheses development process.
  • Theorising and practitioners in HRD: the role of abductive reasoning, Gold, J., Walton, J., Cureton, P., & Anderson, L. (2011). Theorising and practitioners in HRD: the role of abductive reasoning. Journal of European Industrial Training, 35(3), 230-246. Purpose – The article explores abductive reasoning as an unacknowledged logical process utilized by human resource development scientists and professionals. The paper examines contemporary analyses of tradition theory and the consequential relevance gap in the field. The researchers explore the conceptual implications of abductive reasoning in human resource development and outline implications for said professionals.
  • Expressing and verifying business contracts with abductive logic programming, Alberti, M., Chesani, F., Gavanelli, M., Lamma, E., Mello, P., Montali, M., & Torroni, P. (2008). Expressing and verifying business contracts with abductive logic programming. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 12(4), 9-38. Researchers lay the foundation of SCIFF as a declarative language as developed from abductive logic.  The abductive logic programming can be programmed to accommodate different finite domain variables and forward rules while predicating definitions. The abductive reasoning program is an absolute SCIFF proof procedure which is ideal for business contract specifications.
  • Business+ design: exploring a competitive edge for business thinking, Ungaretti, T., Chomowicz, P., Canniffe, B. J., Johnson, B., Weiss, E., Dunn, K., & Cropper, C. (2009). Business+ design: exploring a competitive edge for business thinking. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 74(3), 4. The researchers surveyed graduate business programs and analyzed the logical reasoning skills taught to students. The article outlines the importance of both interdisciplinary study and abductive reasoning. The scholars found the greatest benefit to students when the two variables were taught in unison.
  • Towards knowledge-based product development: the 3-D CAD model of knowledge creation, Baba, Y., & Nobeoka, K. (1998). Towards knowledge-based product development: the 3-D CAD model of knowledge creation. Research policy, 26(6), 643-659. The researchers outline potential uses of 3-D CAD systems in the formation of knowledge-based product development systems. Through a model example, the researchers demonstrate the use of 3-D CAD systems in the formulation of abduction hypotheses. Within the research, implications are discussed for management and organizational adaptations.
  • Supply chain management and sustainability: procrastinating integration in mainstream research, De Brito, M. P., & Van der Laan, E. A. (2010). Supply chain management and sustainability: procrastinating integration in mainstream research. Sustainability, 2(4), 859-870. While previous research has outlined the importance of integrating sustainability issues with supply chain and operation management issues, the article finds that this is still not common practice. The paper applies behavioral theory and abductive reasoning to expound upon this phenomenon coming to the conclusion that focus on functionality takes precedence over other issues.
  • The crossover-dialog approach: The importance of multiple methods for international business, Polsa, P. (2013). The crossover-dialog approach: The importance of multiple methods for international business. Journal of Business Research, 66(3), 288-297. Researchers scrutinizes the approaches global commerce can apply to culturally diverse empirical settings. Instead of focusing on a single approach, the article suggests combing abduction, emic, and deductive reasoning. The article uses a study from China to illustrate the efficiency of a crossover-dialog design.
  • A content analysis of research approaches in logistics research, Spens, K. M., & Kovács, G. (2006). A content analysis of research approaches in logistics research. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, 36(5), 374-390. The paper seeks to analyze three research methodological approaches in logistics through Kovacs and Spens framework. The article synthesizes information from three major logistic journals over the course of five years. The research indicates a dominance of deductive reasoning despite the growing importance of inductive and abductive reasoning.
  • Interactive credential negotiation for stateful business processes, Koshutanski, H., & Massacci, F. (2005, May). Interactive credential negotiation for stateful business processes. In International Conference on Trust Management (pp. 256-272). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. While discussing the shortfallings of Business Processes for Web Services, the researchers submit an abductive logical substructure. The framework would provide clients with a verified and complete algorithm. The infrastructure and algorithm would provide clients with a solution that is resistant to DoS attempts.
  • Design Thinking for Business Analysis, Frisendal, T. (2012). Design Thinking for Business Analysis. In Design Thinking Business Analysis (pp. 15-24). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. The article outlines the redesigning of Business Analysis. While still including SWOTs and RASCIs, the outlined system includes abductive reasoning and inclusion of expansive business information. With years of analysis, the outlook for the proposed process is promising.

 

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