8 Weak Arguments in Harvard Business Review Papers

Harvard Business Review

Introduction to Harvard Business Review (HBR)

Harvard Business Review (HBR) is well-known for its insightful analysis and thought-provoking articles on business and management. It is a significant source for the executives, academics and professionals who are looking for the latest ideas and research in the field of business. 

Importance of Critical Analysis

The critical analysis is the key to the assessment of the arguments that are given in the academic literature. In the context of Harvard Business Review papers, it is important to look at the arguments made by the authors to make sure they are strong enough to survive the examination. 

Identifying Weak Arguments

Understanding Logical Fallacies

Logical fallacies are the mistakes in the process of reasoning which decrease the trustworthiness of an argument. Through knowing the common fallacies, we can easily find the weak arguments in the Harvard Business Review papers. 

Weak arguments can be found in Harvard Business Review papers. 

1.  Argument from Authority

This is when a writer uses the status or knowledge of a person instead of the power of their argument. In the Harvard Business Review papers, referencing famous people without backing up their statements with evidence can damage the reliability of the argument. 

2.  Ad Hominem Attacks

The ad hominem attacks are the ones that attack the character or motives of the person making the argument instead of addressing the substance of the argument. These attacks are usually used to taint the opposing views without participating in the real debate. 

3.  False Dichotomies

The false dichotomies are the arguments that are presented as though there are only two options, they ignore the nuanced alternatives or the complexities in the issue. Harvard Business Review papers are the culprits of this fallacy in which they oversimplify the complex business problems and thus, limit the scope of the possible solutions. 

4.  Anecdotal Evidence

Anecdotal evidence is based on isolated instances or personal experiences that are used to substantiate the wider claim. Although anecdotes can be fascinating, they are not statistically rigorous and hence cannot be used as strong arguments in scholarly conversations. 

5.  Appeal to Emotions

Appeals to the emotions intend to persuade the audience to change their opinion by using emotional manipulation instead of logical reasoning. In HBR papers, the use of emotional appeals may be a factor that will take away from the factual analysis of business phenomena. 

6.  Circular Reasoning

Circular reasoning is the case when the conclusion of an argument is the same as the premise, thus providing no new information or evidence to back up the claim. The Harvard Business Review papers that base their arguments on circular reasoning are not contributing to the real issues in the topic at hand. 

7.  Hasty Generalizations

Hasty generalizations are formed when conclusions are made based on inadequate evidence or a small number of cases. Harvard Business Review papers, who are guilty of this fallacy, can end up in the situation of overgeneralizing the complex business dynamics and not taking into account the important nuances. 

8.  Appeal to Tradition

Tradition-based appeals support the preservation of the current state of things or following the old ways of doing things without critically assessing their effectiveness. In Harvard Business Review papers, just being committed to tradition as ground for business decisions is what causes the loss of innovation and the stagnation of progress

Impact of Weak Arguments

The weak arguments in HBR papers have the consequences of the enhancement of the credibility and the poor decision-making in the business community. The arguments that are based on the false reasoning, are the ones that ruin the academic discourse and the advancement of knowledge in the field of business. 

Case Studies: The instances of poor arguments in HBR papers are the examples of the weak arguments. 

Undoubtedly, it is possible to find weak arguments in many publications, for instance, in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). 

  • Cherry-Picked Data: The Harvard Business Review paper on the new management technique concentrates on the data of a few successful case studies and ignores the instances where the technique failed. Through the selection of some data, the paper is making a one-sided view of the technique’s effectiveness which may lead the readers to take a decision based on the incomplete information. 
  • Appeal to Authority: An HBR article promotes a certain business strategy just because a famous CEO or industry leader endorses it, without offering any proof or explanation of how the strategy will work. The fact that the argument is based on authority without the empirical evidence makes the credibility of the argument low. 
  • Correlation vs. Causation: A research study published in HBR states that the level of employee satisfaction is directly related to the company profits, but the study does not take into account other factors like the market conditions or the management practices. The inability to establish causation weakens the argument and trivializes a complex relationship. 
  • Anecdotal Evidence: A HBR case study emphasizes the success story of a company based on the anecdotal evidence of a single firm, without carrying out a wider research of the industry trends or market dynamics. Singling out only the anecdotal proofs ignores the possible confounding factors and thus makes the generalization of the results impossible. 
  •  Logical Fallacies: An HBR opinion piece uses logical fallacies, for example, ad hominem attacks or slippery slope arguments, to discredit the opposing viewpoints without tackling their substantive arguments. The use of fallacious arguments in the author’s reasoning devalues his or her position and undermines the strength of the argument. 

In all of these instances, the weak arguments destroy the credibility and the persuasiveness of the HBR papers, thus, the importance of the rigorous analysis, the empirical evidence, and the logical reasoning in the academic and professional discourse is pointed out. 

Strategies for Strengthening Arguments

Evidence-Based Reasoning

Constructing arguments based on the solid foundation of empirical evidence and data analysis definitely increases their credibility and persuasiveness. The Harvard Business Review authors should give first place to the evidence-based reasoning in order to prove their claims and to make their arguments more strong and powerful. 

Logical Consistency

The logical consistency of the argument should be the main thing that the author should pay attention to during the whole process of the argumentation in order to construct the logical and coherent narratives. Through the avoidance of contradictions and fallacious reasoning, Harvard Business Review authors can boost the validity of their arguments and hence, they can make a more powerful impact on their readers. 

Peer Review

The Harvard Business Review papers are subjected to the strict peer review processes which thus permit the detection and rectification of the weak arguments before the publication. Through the process of getting advice from experts in the field, authors are able to improve their arguments and thus, the general level of quality of their contributions to the academic discourse. 


To sum it up, it is very important to carry out critical analysis of the arguments in the papers of Harvard Business Review. Thus, this procedure separates the good, well-researched arguments from the bad, fallacious ones. Through the recognition and correction of the typical weak arguments, we protect the respect of the academic scholarship and the business community gets to the intelligent discussions. 


Q.1: How can I upgrade my critical thinking skills when I am reading Harvard Business Review papers?

Strengthen the skills of recognizing the logical fallacies and assessing the power of the arguments in the light of the evidence and the reasoning. 

Q.2: Are weak arguments always harmful to the general worth of an HBR paper?

Indeed, weak arguments not only diminish the credibility and persuasiveness of the paper, but also they reduce its impact on the readers. 

Q.3: why should the Harvard Business Review writers steer clear of logical fallacies in their arguments?

Logical fallacies damage the validity of the argument and thus the author’s reputation, which in turn obstructs the communication of the ideas. 

Q.4: Does peer review help to recognize and correct the flaws of weak arguments in the HBR papers?

Certainly, peer review gives the authors a piece of advice from the people who are experts in the field, thus, they can strengthen their arguments and the quality of the paper. 

Q.5: What can the HBR authors do in order to make their arguments more solid before the publication?

HBR authors should concentrate on the evidence-based reasoning, the logical consistency and the review to detect and to remove the weak arguments. 

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