Small Steps or Giant Leaps Forward: Theoretical Contributions in Management Studies
43 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013
Date Written: August 26, 2013
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.
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