Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bridgestone paid for the study that concluded that Bridgestone will bring billions to Nashville

Straight up, tell me: would you be more likely to rely on a study that was funded by a business that stands to benefit from the study's conclusions or a study that was conducted independently of the risk/reward to the business activity studied?

If you in the former group, you likely will have no qualms (like I do) about news of a study of the "economic impact" of a new Nashville Bridgestone headquarters:

Bridgestone Americas' decision to move its corporate headquarters to downtown Nashville will generate $1.7 billion in additional economic activity in Greater Nashville during the next 20 years, or $87 million annually, according to a economic impact report by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville ....

Bridgestone paid for the UT-Knoxville report.

I should point out that the original story on the study did not contain the last sentence about where the funding is coming from until I pointed the omission out to the news source. Omitting that information was effectively leaving off an important disclaimer that affects the trustworthiness of the study itself. Otherwise, people will believe that some professor conducted the research in pristine disinterestedness. To their credit, they added the disclaimer.

Go read the research "findings" for yourself, but I choose to believe that we are left wanting an independent, double-blind study of even such a slippery, subjective topic as "economic impact."

There were two other cities that Nashville beat out for the HQ. Were area researchers hired in those cities to tout the economic impact of a new building for Bridgestone? If so, the corporate pattern appears to be to use contracted university researchers to market the product.

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