Boundary Conditions: What They are, How to Explore Them, Why We Need Them, and When to Consider Them
64 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2016
Date Written: November 25, 2015
Boundary conditions (BC) have long been discussed as an important element in theory development, referring to the “Who, Where, When” aspects of a theory. However, it still remains somewhat vague as to what exactly BC are, how they can or even should be explored, and why their understanding matters. This research tackles these important questions by means of an in-depth theoretical-methodological analysis. The study contributes fourfold to organizational research methods: First, it develops a more accurate and explicit understanding of BC. Second, it widens the understanding of how BC can be explored by suggesting and juxtaposing new tools and approaches. It also illustrates BC-exploring processes, drawing on two empirical case examples. Third, it analyzes the reasons for exploring BC, concluding that BC exploration fosters theory development, strengthens research validity, and mitigates the research-practice gap. Fourth, it synthesizes the analyses into 12 tentative suggestions for how scholars should subsequently approach the issues surrounding BC. The authors hope that the study contributes to consensus shifting with respect to BC and draws more attention to BC.
Keywords: Boundary condition; context; generalizability; research-practice gap; theorizing; validity
JEL Classification: M10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation