Small Steps or Giant Leaps Forward: Theoretical Contributions in Management Studies

43 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013

See all articles by J. P. Cornelissen

J. P. Cornelissen

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Rodolphe Durand

HEC Paris - Strategy & Business Policy

Date Written: August 26, 2013

Abstract

How do we, as management researchers, develop novel theoretical contributions, and potentially break new ground, in management studies? To address this question, we review previous methodological work on theorizing and advance a typology of the reasoning processes that underlie theoretical contributions and significant advances in management studies. This typology consist of various types of analogical and counterfactual reasoning that range from focused thought experiments aimed at prodding existing theory in the direction of alternative assumptions, constructs and hypotheses to more expansive efforts around inducing new theoretical models and alternative explanations. With this typology we detail the mechanisms behind the formation of novel theoretical contributions and we illustrate the currency of our typology with a review of twenty-four major theoretical breakthroughs in management studies. We conclude the paper with a discussion of the implications of this typology for our collective efforts in building, elaborating and expanding theory in management studies.

Suggested Citation

Cornelissen, J. P. and Durand, Rodolphe, Small Steps or Giant Leaps Forward: Theoretical Contributions in Management Studies (August 26, 2013). HEC Paris Research Paper No. SPE-2013-998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2316113 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2316113

J. P. Cornelissen

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences ( email )

Kloveniersburgwal 48
Amsterdam, 1012 CX
Netherlands
+31 20 525 2242 (Phone)

Rodolphe Durand (Contact Author)

HEC Paris - Strategy & Business Policy ( email )

Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351
France

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