戴维·惠滕:什么构成理论贡献?

2020-05-03 21:14:41   --   来源:中国经济管理大学|中國經濟管理大學   --   浏览:253
内容提要:戴维·惠滕:什么构成理论贡献?

戴维·惠滕:什么构成理论贡献?

戴维·惠滕
伊利诺伊大学


    什么是理论发展的构建基块?
    根据理论发展权威(例如,Dubin,1978年),一个完整的理论必须包含四个基本要素,如下各段所述。
什么?在解释社会或个人利益现象时,哪些因素(变量、结构、概念)在逻辑上应被考虑?判断我们纳入"正确"因素的程度有两个标准:全面性(即,是否都包括所有相关因素)和简约性(即,应删除某些因素,因为它们对我们的附加价值不大理解)。
    当作者开始规划一个主题的概念图时,他们应该倾向于包括太多的因素,认识到随着时间的推移,他们的想法将被完善。删除不必要或无效的元素通常比证明添加的合理性更容易。但是,这不应被解释为可丢弃厨房水槽的许可。对简约和全面等相互竞争的美德的敏感是一个好的理论家的标志。
如何。在确定了一组因素后,研究人员的下一个问题是,它们的关系如何?从操作上讲,这涉及到使用"箭头"来连接"框"。此外,它通常引入因果关系。尽管研究人员可能无法充分测试这些联系,但方法上的限制并没有使理论的内在因果性质失效。
什么和如何构成理论的领域或主题。考虑的关系集越复杂,图形化地描述它们就越有用。并非所有的理论论文都必须包含带有方框和箭头的图形,但视觉表现往往能澄清作者的思想,增加读者的理解力。特别是,形式化模型帮助理论开发人员和用户评估简约性和完整性之间的平衡。
为什么。哪些潜在的心理、经济或社会动力可以证明选择因素和拟议的因果关系是正确的?这一理论基础构成了理论的假设——将模型焊接在一起的理论粘合剂。(和杜宾一样,我不区分模型和理论。)
这里讨论的中心问题是:为什么同事们要相信这种现象的特殊表现呢?答案在于模型背后的逻辑。对人性、组织要求或社会过程的基本观点的正确性为判断所提出的概念化的合理性提供了基础。
在理论发展过程中,逻辑代替数据作为评价的基础。如果理论家希望对研究实践产生影响,他们必须说服其他人,他们的主张是有意义的。如果理论模型是研究的有用指南,根据定义,模型中的所有关系都没有得到测试。如果所有环节都经过经验验证,该模型就可以进入课堂,在实验室中价值不大。理论发展期刊的使命是挑战和扩展现有知识,而不仅仅是重写它。因此,作者应该通过为修改后的视图提供令人信服的逻辑理由,来缩小我们知识的边界。这就需要解释重组后的what和how背后的原因。
为什么进行研究,对理论发展与实证研究之间的联系具有重要的意义。将"如何"和"What"相结合可生成典型模型,从中可以得出可测试命题。(命题和假设之间的主要区别是命题涉及概念,而假设需要度量。从技术上讲,可以在不了解模型基础原因的情况下测试这些语句(例如,A是由B引起的)。然而,这往往导致经验,而不是理论上,主导讨论研究结果的影响。作为一个领域,当我们对为什么集体开始调查之旅,或者我们遵循的理论方向认识不足时,我们的话语往往会退化成关于我们旅行速度的激烈方法论辩论。为了避免空洞的讨论,命题应该以"为什么"以及"如何"和"什么"为根据。
总结至今:什么和如何是在描述,只有为什么是在解释。在我们的经验观察中,什么和如何提供解释模式或差异的框架。这是一个重要区别,因为数据,无论是定性的还是定量的,都是特征。理论提供了对特征的解释。因此,我们必须确保作为好理论传递的东西包括一个合理的、令人信服的解释,说明为什么我们应该在我们的数据中期望某些关系。这三个要素共同提供了一个简单的理论的基本要素:描述和解释。
关于命题使用的附加评论是有序的。并非所有真正的理论贡献都需要命题,而且所有论文都不需要采用相同的格式。然而,当论文的目的是提出一个新的理论立场或质疑现有理论的基本结构时,可研究的命题是非常有用的。它们迫使作者思考新思维或修正思维的具体应用,并增加后续研究构成对作者核心论点的有效检验的可能性。如果使用命题,它们应仅限于说明研究理论论点的逻辑推论的含义。(有些作者错误地用命题来概括一部文学作品。)
谁,在哪里,何时。这些条件限制了从理论模型生成的命题。这些时间和语境因素设定了可概括性的边界,因此构成了理论的范围。研究时间和背景对人和事件影响的学者们一直在问一些令人不安的问题,比如,你的预测在日本蓝领阶层还是跨阶层适用?不幸的是,很少有理论家明确关注他们命题的语境限制。在他们努力理解一种社会现象时,他们往往只在熟悉的环境和某个时间点考虑这种现象。
尽管期望理论家对所有可能的边界约束都敏感是不公平的,但对核心命题的可概括性进行一些简单的心理测试显然是有价值的。例如,应该鼓励理论家考虑他们的理论效应是否随时间而变化,不仅是因为其他的时间相关变量在理论上很重要,而且因为理论效应由于某种原因不稳定。对于基于经验的理论来说,对语境的敏感性尤为重要。根据语境主义的观点(Gergen,1982),意义是从语境中派生出来的。也就是说,我们通过欣赏它发生的地点和时间来理解正在发生的事情。观察是嵌入的,必须在上下文中理解。因此,归纳生成理论的作者对讨论可概括性的极限负有特殊的责任。虽然对理论家来说,对语境敏感是很重要的,但理论的“谁”、“在哪里”和“何时”通常是通过随后对最初的、基本的理论陈述(什么、如何、为什么)的测试而被发现的。在测试这些想法的过程中,我们发现了内在的限制条件。在缺乏如此广泛的实验证据的情况下,我们必须实事求是地看待理论家对理论适用性的所有可能限制的预见程度。

什么是对理论发展合法的增值贡献?
大多数组织学者不会从头开始生成一个新的理论。他们通常致力于改善已经存在的东西。在这种情况下,往往很难判断什么构成足够的贡献,以保证在像AMR这样的理论期刊上发表。然而,上一节所述的社会理论的构成要素提出了一套作出编辑判断的标准。
什么和如何。尽管原则上,只需从现有模型中添加或减去因子(Whats),就可以做出重要的理论贡献,但此过程很少满足审评人。通常建议的添加或删除数量不足以实质性地改变现有模型的核心逻辑。
在因子列表中演示建议更改值的一种方法是确定此更改如何影响变量(Hows)之间接受的关系。正如变量列表不构成理论一样,在现有列表中添加新变量不应被误认为是理论贡献。关系,而不是列表,是"关系"的域。正如庞卡林(1983年)如此恰当地指出,“科学是事实,就像房子是石头做的一样...但是,一堆石头不是房子,而一组事实不一定是科学的。”因此,理论见解来自于演示新变量的添加如何通过重组因果图而显著改变我们对现象的理解。例如,在工作设计理论中增加"成长需求强度",形成了现存的观点,改变了研究实践(Hackman&Lawler,1971年)。
理论中的重要变化经常被令人惊讶的研究结果所刺激。在收集定量或定性数据的过程中,学者们经常面临他们的观察与传统智慧之间的不一致。尽管相反的结果经常被理论家基于测量误差而打折,但对过时的动机思考的持续挑战(Organic,1988)表明充足的数据是有说服力的。
为什么。这也许是最富有成果,也是理论发展最困难的途径。它通常涉及从其他领域借用一个观点,这鼓励改变我们的隐喻和比喻的方式,挑战支持公认理论的基本原理。这种对人性、群体发展、组织交易等观点的深刻挑战,普遍促使对受影响的理论进行广泛的重新概念化。
概念发展的这一方面特别重要,而且通常被忽视。理论经常受到质疑,因为它们的假设被证明是不切实际的(通常是从其他领域进口的工作)。尽管围绕范式真理和实证事实建立共识同样困难,但涉及生态学和经济学的近期宏观理论发展证明了这种方法的显著性(Hannan&Freeman,1989年;欧奇和巴尼,1986年)。
谁,何时,在哪里。一般来说,指出当前理论应用范围概念的局限性是不够的。例如,发现主流人员选拔模式在军事环境中具有较低的预测有效性本身并不构成理论贡献。此外,理论家需要了解这种异常存在的原因,以便他们可以修改模型的"如何"和"什么"来适应这些新信息。
相反,将旧模型应用到新的设置中并显示其按预期工作本身并不具有指导意义。这一结论只有在新环境的某些方面表明该理论不应在这些条件下起作用时才具有理论价值。换言之,最好是研究理论边界的定性变化(在定性不同条件下的应用),而不是单纯的定量扩展。这种方法的两个例子是Maruyama在东方文化背景下对西方管理理论的考察(1984年)和Whetten在衰落条件下对成长导向型组织理论的考察(1980年)。
通过在新的环境中应用它来推进理论发展的共同点是需要一个理论反馈回路。理论家们需要在不同的条件下学习一些关于理论本身的新知识。也就是说,新的应用程序应该改进这个工具,而不仅仅是重申它的实用性。
这篇文章的三个主要主题是:第一,提出的改进只针对现有理论中的一个元素很少被认为是足够的。因此,一般的经验法则是,批判应该集中在理论的多个要素上。这种方法增加了理论工作的完整性和彻底性。
第二,理论批判应该收集有说服力的证据。这些证据可以是逻辑的(例如,理论内部不一致)、经验的(其预测与几项研究积累的数据不一致)或认识论的(其假设是无效的,来自另一个领域的信息)。
第三,一般而言,理论批评应提出补救措施或替代方案。尽管我们可以想到科学史上基于自身优点的经典批评,但我们领域的典型辩论却不那么清晰。因此,批评家应该共同承担制定改进的概念化的责任。否则,很难知道原著是否确实低劣,或者仅仅是我们在一个非常复杂的世界里能做的最好的。

评判概念论文考虑了哪些因素?
到目前为止,我们已经研究了理论论点的内在优点。此外,审评人还考虑其他因素,包括表达的清晰度、对研究的影响、及时性、和相关性。
以下七个关键问题列表大致按调用它们的频率顺序总结了我们的审评人最常提出的关切。这些问题既包括前两节讨论的实质性问题,也包括几个格式问题。它们共同构成了一个概括性问题的简要答案,什么构成可发表的理论论文?
1.新颖吗?本文是否对当前的思想做出了重大的增值贡献?审评人不一定在寻找全新的理论。然而,对现行理论的修改或扩展,应该以重要的方式改变学者的现存观点。建议的更改可以根据范围和程度进行校准。范围往往反映一般与中级的层次,而程度则反映提案的激进性。一般来说,范围(有多少领域受到影响)在确定贡献的优点时不如程度重要(这与当前思维有何不同)。
2.那又怎样?这个理论是否会改变这一领域的组织科学实践?与研究的联系是否明显(明确布局,或容易、可靠地推导)?论文是否不仅仅是对测试的价值或使用这些想法进行象征性的陈述?提出解决方案是为了弥补当前理论中所谓的缺陷?这些问题不太适合那些旨在改变组织学者思考方式的罕见、高度概念性的论文。然而,标准理论论文的目的应该是改变研究实践,而不是简单地以影响不大的方式调整概念模型。
3.为什么会这样?基本逻辑和支持证据令人信服吗?是作者的假设明确吗?作者的观点可信吗?理论发展论文应建立在令人信服的论证基础上,以合理、明确的观点为基础的人文与组织实践。
4.做得好?论文是否反映了老练的思想,传达了完整性和彻底性?多个理论元素(什么,如何,为什么,何时何地)是否涵盖了这篇论文,使其在概念上更全面,而不是肤浅?这些论点是否反映了对这一主题的广泛的、当前的理解?如果包含命题,是否正确使用?这个论点有明显的逻辑缺陷吗?作者是否通过大量的同行意见,在很长一段时间内形成了这些想法?
5.做得好?论文写得好吗?它的逻辑顺畅吗?它的核心思想容易理解吗?阅读感愉悦吗?论文长度足够覆盖主题又能言简意赅吗?论文的外观是否反映了高专业标准?论文的格式和内容是否符合《致贡献者通知》中的规范?
6.为什么是现在?这个领域学者对当代这个话题感兴趣吗?它是否会推动当前的讨论,刺激新的讨论,或振兴旧的讨论?审评人对他们认为是冗余、未连接或过时的论文给低分。
7.谁在乎?学术读者对这个话题感兴趣的比例是多少?一篇论文可能在技术上是足够的,但对我们大多数的广大读者来说,它本身就是乏味的。对于标准1和标准2来说,就狭隘的主题撰写的论文通常会有更高的标准;也就是说,它们有望对当前的思维和研究实践作出更重大的贡献。一般来说,即使是高度专业化的论文也应该与核心管理或组织概念和问题联系起来。否则,它们更适合于基于学科的期刊。
总之,理论发展过程和判断理论贡献的标准需要得到广泛的理解和接受,以便编辑和撰稿人能够有效沟通。希望这篇简短的文章将有助于这一进程。我敦促读者协助进一步制定框架,说明和加强这些重要的学术活动。关于建立和改进现有理论的过程的论文总是受欢迎的。

英文原文

What Constitutes a  Theoretical Contribution?

DAVID A. WHETTEN
University of Illinois

 


Since becoming editor of AMR, I have tried to  find a simple way to communicate the necessary ingredients of a theoretical contribution.  There are several excellent treatises on the subject, but they typically involve terms and concepts that are difficult to incorporate into everyday communications with authors and reviewers. My experience has been that available  frameworks are as likely to obfuscate, as they  are to clarify, meaning. Besides exposure to the  works of Kaplan, Dubin, and others varies  widely across the Academy.
This article is a rudimentary effort to fill this  gap: The intent is not to create a new conceptualization of theory, but rather to propose several  simple concepts for discussing the theorydevelopment process. It is a personal reflection,  which has emerged out of my daily editorial activities. My motivation is to ease the communication problems regarding expectations and  standards, which result from the absence of a  broadly accepted framework for discussing the  merits of conceptual writing in the organizational sciences.
Finally, my comments should not be interpreted either as official AMR dogma or ironclad rules governing the evaluation process. Each submitted paper is unique, and it is judged on its own merits;however, my thinking has clearly been influenced by the hundreds of communications I have read during the first half of my editorship.
This article is organized around three key questions: (a) What are the building blocks of theory development? (b) What is a legitimate value-added contribution to theory development? and (c) What factors are considered in judging conceptual papers? The first section describes the constituent elements of a theory. The second section uses this framework to establish standards for the theory-development process. The third section summarizes the expectations of reviewers regarding the substantive contribution and appropriateness of AMR papers.

What Are the Building Blocks of Theory Development?

According to theory-development authorities (e.g., Dubin, 1978), a complete theory must contain four essential elements, which are described in the following paragraphs.
What. Which factors (variables, constructs, concepts) logically should be considered as part of the explanation of the social or individual phenomena of interest? Two criteria exist for judging the extent to which we have included the "right" factors: comprehensiveness (i.e., are all relevant factors included?) and parsimony (i.e.z should some factors be deleted because they add little additional value to our understanding?).
When authors begin to map out the conceptual landscape of a topic they should err in favor of including too many factors, recognizing that over time their ideas will be refined. It is generally easier to delete unnecessary or invalid elements than it is to justify additions. However, this should not be interpreted as license to throw in the kitchen sink. Sensitivity to the competing virtues of parsimony and comprehensiveness is the hallmark of a good theorist.
How. Having identified a set of factors, the researchers next question is, How are they related? Operationally this involves using "arrows" to connect the "boxes." Such a step adds order to the conceptualization by explicitly delineating patterns. In addition, it typically introduces causality. Although the researcher may be unable to adequately test these links, restrictions in methods do not invalidate the inherent causal nature of theory.
Together the What and How elements constitute the domain or subject of the theory. The more complex the set of relationships under consideration, the more useful it is to graphically depict them. Not all theoretical treatises must contain figures with boxes and arrows, but a visual representation often clarifies the authors thinking and increases the readers comprehension. In particular, formal models aid theory developers and users to assess the balance between parsimony and completeness.
Why. What are the underlying psychological, economic, or social dynamics that justify the selection of factors and the proposed causal relationships? This rationale constitutes the theorys assumptions—the theoretical glue that welds the model together. (Like Dubin, I do not distinguish between a model and a theory.)
The central question addressed here is: Why should colleagues give credence to this particular representation of the phenomena? The answer lies in the logic underlying the model. The soundness of fundamental views of human nature, organizational requisites, or societal processes provide the basis for judging the reasonableness of the proposed conceptualization.
During the theory-development process, logic replaces data as the basis for evaluation. Theorists must convince others that their propositions make sense if they hope to have an impact on the practice of research. If the theoretical model is a useful guide for research, by definition, all the relationships in the model have not been tested. If all links have been empirically verified, the model is ready for the classroom and is of little value in the laboratory. The mission of a theory-development journal is to challenge and extend existing knowledge, not simply to rewrite it. Therefore, authors should push back the boundaries of our knowledge by providing compelling and logical justifications for altered views. This requires explaining the Whys underlying the reconstituted Whats and Hows.
Why research is conducted has important implications for the link between theory development and empirical research. Combining the Hows and the Whats produces the typical model, from which testable propositions can be derived. (The primary difference between propositions and hypotheses is that propositions involve concepts, whereas hypotheses require measures.) Technically, these statements (e.g., A is caused by B) can be tested without understanding the Whys underlying the model. However, this tends to lead to empirically, rather than theoretically, dominated discussions of the implications of a study's results. As a field, when we have insufficient understanding of why we collectively started an investigative journey, or what theoretical direction we are following, then our discourse tends to degenerate into heated methodological debates over how fast we are traveling. To avoid vacuous discussions, propositions should be well grounded in the Whys, as well as the Hows and the Whats.
To summarize thus far: What and How describe;only Why explains. What and How provide a framework for interpreting patterns, or discrepancies, in our empirical observations. This is an important distinction because data, whether qualitative or quantitative, characterize;theory supplies the explanation for the characteristics. Therefore, we must make sure that what is passing as good theory includes a plausible, cogent explanation for why we should expect certain relationships in our data. Together these three elements provide the essential ingredients of a simple theory: description and explanation.
An additional comment about the use of prop ositions is in order. Not all bona fide theoretical contributions require propositions, and all papers need not follow the same format. However, when the purpose of a paper is to present a new theoretical position or to call into question the fundamental structure of an existing theory, researchable propositions are very useful. They force the author to think about the concrete applications of new or revised thinking, and they increase the likelihood that subsequent research will constitute valid tests of the authors core arguments. If propositions are used, they should be limited to specifying the logically deduced implications for research of a theoretical argument. (Some authors mistakenly use propositions to summarize a body of literature.)
Who, Where, When. These conditions place limitations on the propositions generated from a theoretical model. These temporal and contextual factors set the boundaries of generalizability, and as such constitute the range of the theory. Scholars who study the effects of time and context on people and events keep asking nagging questions like, Would your predictions hold in Japan, with a blue-collar population, or across time periods? Unfortunately, few theorists explicitly focus on the contextual limits of their propositions. In their efforts to understand a social phenomenon they tend to consider it only in familiar surroundings and at one point in time.
Although it is unfair to expect that theorists should be sensitive to all possible boundary constraints, clearly there is value in conducting some simple mental tests of the generalizability of core propositions. For example, theorists should be encouraged to think about whether their theoretical effects vary over time, either because other time-dependent variables are theoretically important or because the theoretical effect is unstable for some reason.
Sensitivity to context is especially important for theories based on experience. According to the contextualist perspective (Gergen, 1982), meaning is derived from context. That is, we understand what is going on by appreciating where and when it is happening. Observations are embedded and must be understood within a context. Therefore, authors of inductively generated theories have a particular responsibility for discussing limits of generalizability.
Although it is important for theorists to be sensitive to context, the Who, Where, and When of a theory are typically discovered through subsequent tests of the initial, rudimentary theoretical statement (What, How, Why). In the process of testing these ideas in various settings, we discover the inherent limiting conditions. In the absence of this breadth of experimental evidence, we must be realistic regarding the extent of a theorists foreknowledge of all the possible limitations on a theorys applicability.

What Is a Legitimate, Value-Added
Contribution to Theory Development?
Most organizational scholars are not going to  generate a new theory from scratch. Instead,  they generally work on improving what already  exists. In that context, it is often difficult to judge  what constitutes enough of a contribution to  warrant publication in a theory journal like  AMR. Nevertheless, the constituent elements of  social theories described in the preceding section suggest a set of criteria for making editorial  judgments.
What and How. Although, in principle, it is  possible to make an important theoretical contribution by simply adding or subtracting factors  (Whats) from an existing model, this process seldom satisfies reviewers. The additions or deletions typically proposed are not of sufficient  magnitude to substantially alter the core logic of  the existing model.
One way to demonstrate the value of a proposed change in a list of factors is to identify how  this change affects the accepted relationships  between the variables (Hows). Just as a list of  variables does not constitute a theory, so the addition of a new variable to an existing list should  not be mistaken as a theoretical contribution.  Relationships, not lists, are the domain of theory. As Poincare (1983) so aptly noted, "Science  is facts, just as houses are made of stone....  But a pile of stones is not a house, and a collection of facts is not necessarily science." Therefore, theoretical insights come from demonstrating how the addition of a new variable significantly alters our understanding of the phenomena by reorganizing our causal maps. For  example, the addition of "growth-need strength"  to job-design theories transformed extant views  and altered research practice (Hackman &  Lawler, 1971).
Important changes in a theory's What and  How are frequently stimulated by surprising research results. In the process of gathering either  quantitative or qualitative data, scholars are often confronted with an inconsistency between  their observations and conventional wisdom.  Although contrary results are frequently discounted by theorists on the basis of measurement error, ongoing challenges to outmoded  thinking about motivation (Organ, 1988) demonstrate that sufficient data can be persuasive.
Why. This is probably the most fruitful, but  also the most difficult avenue of theory development. It commonly involves borrowing a perspective from other fields, which encourages altering our metaphors and gestalts in ways that  challenge the underlying rationales supporting  accepted theories. This profound challenge to  our views of human nature, group development, organizational transactions, and so forth,  generally precipitates a broad reconceptualization of affected theories.
This aspect of conceptual development is particularly critical, and generally overlooked.  Theories often are challenged because their assumptions have been proven unrealistic (generally by work imported from other areas). Although it is just as difficult to build consensus  around paradigmatic truth as around empirical  fact, nonetheless, recent macro theoretical developments involving ecology and economics  demonstrate the salience of this approach (Hannan & Freeman, 1989; Ouchi & Barney, 1986).
Who, When, Where. Generally, it is insufficient to point out limitations in current conceptions of a theory's range of application. For example, discovering that a mainstream personnel selection model has low predictive validity in  a military setting does not by itself constitute a  theoretical contribution. In addition, theorists  need to understand why this anomaly exists, so  that they can revise the How and What of the  model to accommodate this new information.
Conversely, applying an old model to a new  setting and showing that it works as expected is  not instructive by itself. This conclusion has theoretical merit only if something about the new  setting suggests the theory shouldn't work under  those conditions. In other words, it is preferable  to investigate qualitative changes in the boundaries of a theory (applications under qualitatively different conditions), rather than mere  quantitative expansions. Two examples of this  approach are Maruyama's examination of  Western theories of management in the context  of Eastern culture (1984) and Whetten's examination of growth-oriented organizational theories under conditions of decline (1980).
The common element in advancing theory development by applying it in new settings is the  need for a theoretical feedback loop. Theorists  need to learn something new about the theory  itself as a result of working with it under different  conditions. That is, new applications should improve the tool, not merely reaffirm its utility.
Three broad themes underlie this section:  First, proposed improvements addressing only a  single element of an existing theory are seldom  judged to be sufficient. Therefore, a general rule  of thumb is that critiques should focus on multiple elements of the theory. This approach adds  the qualities of completeness and thoroughness  to theoretical work.
Second, theoretical critiques should marshal  compelling evidence. This evidence can be logical (e.g., the theory is not internally consistent),  empirical (its predictions are inconsistent with  the data accumulated from several studies), or  epistemological (its assumptions are invalidgiven information from another field).
Third, in general, theoretical critiques should  propose remedies or alternatives. Although we  can think of classic critiques in the history of science that stood on their own merits, the typical  debate in our field is less clear cut. Consequently, critics should share responsibility for  crafting improved conceptualizations. Otherwise, it is difficult to know whether the original is  indeed inferior, or simply the best we can do in  a very complex world.

What Factors Are Considered in  Judging Conceptual Papers?
Thus far we have examined the inherent merits of a theoretical argument. In addition, reviewers consider other factors, including clarity  of expression, impact on research, timeliness,  and relevance.
The following list of seven key questions,  roughly in the order of frequency in which they  are invoked, summarizes the concerns raised  most frequently by our reviewers. These questions cover both the substantive issues discussed  in the first two sections as well as several formatting concerns. Together they constitute a  summary answer to the broad question, What  constitutes a publishable theory paper?
1. What's new? Does the paper make a significant, value-added contribution to current thinking? Reviewers are not necessarily looking for  totally new theories. However, modifications or  extensions of current theories should alter scholars' extant views in important ways. Proposed  changes can be calibrated in terms of scope and  degree. Scope tends to reflect the level of theorizing (general versus middle level), while degree reflects the radicalness of the proposal. In  general, scope (how much of the field is impacted) is less important in determining the merits of a contribution than is degree (how different  is this from current thinking).
2. So what? Will the theory likely change the  practice of organizational science in this area?  Are linkages to research evident (either explicitly laid out, or easily, reliably deduced)? Does  the paper go beyond making token statements  about the value of testing or using these ideas?  Are solutions proposed for remedying alleged  deficiencies in current theories? These questions  are less appropriate for the rare, highly conceptual papers aimed at changing the way organizational scholars think, in general. However,  the purpose of the standard theoretical paper  should be to alter research practice, not simply  to tweak a conceptual model in ways that are of  little consequence.
3. Why so? Are the underlying logic and supporting evidence compelling? Are the author's  assumptions explicit? Are the author's views believable? Theory development papers should be  built on a foundation of convincing argumentation and grounded in reasonable, explicit views  of human nature and organizational practice.
4. Well done? Does the paper reflect seasoned thinking, conveying completeness and  thoroughness? Are multiple theoretical elements (What, How, Why, When-Where-Who)  covered, giving the paper a conceptually wellrounded, rather than a superficial, quality? Do  the arguments reflect a broad, current understanding of the subject? If propositions are included, are they used properly? Does the argument have any glaring logical flaws? Does it appear that the author has developed these  thoughts over an extended period of time, informed by extensive peer input?
5. Done well? Is the paper well written? Does  it flow logically? Are the central ideas easily  accessed? Is it enjoyable to read? Is the paper  long enough to cover the subject but short  enough to be interesting? Does the paper's appearance reflect high professional standards?  Are the paper's format and content consistent  with the specifications in the Notice to Contributors?
6. Why now? Is this topic of contemporary interest to scholars in this area? Will it likely advance current discussions, stimulate new discussions, or revitalize old discussions? Reviewers give low marks to papers they perceive are  redundant, unconnected, or antiquated.
7. Who cares? What percentage of academic  readers are interested in this topic? A paper may  be technically adequate but inherently uninteresting to most of our broad audience. Papers  written on topics with narrow appeal are typically held to a higher standard for Criteria 1 and  2; that is, they are expected to make a more  significant contribution to current thinking and  research practice. In general, even highly specialized papers should be linked to core management or organizational concepts and problems. Otherwise, they are more appropriate for  a discipline-based journal.
In conclusion, the theory-development process and criteria for judging theoretical contributions need to be broadly understood and accepted so that editors and contributors can communicate effectively. Hopefully this brief article  will facilitate that process. I urge readers to assist in the further development of frameworks for  describing and enhancing these important  scholarly activities. Papers on the process of  building new and improving current theories  are always welcome.
中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学培训|MBA实战|中国经济管理大学|MBA培训|硕士研究生|职业资格|管理培训 

中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学培训|MBA实战|中国经济管理大学|MBA培训|硕士研究生|职业资格|管理培训 

 

中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学|中国经济管理大学培训|MBA实战|中国经济管理大学|MBA培训|硕士研究生|职业资格|管理培训 

 

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