Developing Theory and Hypotheses in Management and Organization Research. YADONG LUO University of Miami IACMR Dissertation Proposal Development Workshop July 12, Guangzhou. It is difficult…. Theoretical development is, perhaps, the most difficult part in research development
University of Miami
IACMR Dissertation Proposal Development Workshop
July 12, Guangzhou
A theory is a system of constructs and variables in which the constructs or variables are related to each other by propositions or hypotheses, within the boundary that sets the limitations and assumptions in applying it (e.g., values, context, space, time)
Its purpose is (1) to organize (parsimoniously) and to (2) communicate (clearly)
Theory is developed by which to explain AND predict complex events, objects or phenomena. A theory is useful (i.e., utility value) if it can both explain and predict (e.g., TCE; Resource dependence)
An explanation establishes the substantive meaning of constructs, variables, and their linkages, while a prediction tests that substantive meaning by comparing it to empirical evidence
with hypotheses model or framework theory or perspective
weak medium strong
Theoretical completeness, rigorousness, and originality
e.g., Management Science e.g., ASQ, AMJ
J. of Applied Psychology
Annual R. of Sociology
Most studies do not generate new, novel theories from scratch. Instead, they generally work on improving what already exists
The additions or deletions of factors are not of sufficient magnitude to substantially alter the core logic of the existing theory. Relationships, not lists, are the domain of theory
Authors must be able to identify and delineate how proposed changes affect the accepted relationships between the factors and what contributions you will make
It is a common approach to explain why and strengthen logic by borrowing a perspective from other fields, which encourages an alternative explanation or challenge the underlying rationales of accepted theories. Theories are often challenged because their assumptions have been proven unrealistic (e.g., structuration theory and social exchange theory)
Explicate pertinent logic from past theoretical work so that the reader can grasp the author’s developmental arguments
Strong theory usually stems from a single or small set of research ideas, though their implications are widespread. Papers with strong theory often start with a few sharpened conceptual statements and build a logically detailed case; they have both simplicity and interconnectedness (e.g., population density theory)
Read the diverse literature in multiple fields (economics, sociology)
Avoid mentioning those variables or process that you cannot measure and test
A Theoretical Model of Control and Cooperation Coupling in Buyer-Supplier Dyads
Hypothesis 1: Commitment in buyer-supplier partnerships will be highest
in the integrator metaphor (Cell 1), lowest in the buffer metaphor (Cell 3),
with in-between levels in the metaphors of hammer (Cell 2) and lubricant (Cell 4).
Plot of Centroids of Four Clusters
Argyris, C. and Schon, D.A. 1977. Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bacharach, S.B. 1989. Organizational theories: Some criteria for evaluation. Academy of Management Review, 14(4): 496-515.
Blalock, H.M. 1969. Theory construction: From verbal to mathematical formulation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Cohen, B. 1980. Developing sociological knowledge: Theory and method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Davis, J.P., Eisenhardt, K.M. and Bingham, C.B. 2007. Developing theory through simulation methods. Academy of Management Review, 32(2): 480-499.
Dubin, R. 1969. Theory building. New York: Free Press.
Eisenhardt, K.M. 1989. Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review, 14(4): 532-550.