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Meanings of Theory : Clarifying Theory through Typification

Sandberg, Jörgen and Alvesson, Mats LU (2020) In Journal of Management Studies
Abstract

Developing and evaluating scientific knowledge and its value requires a clear – or at least not too unclear – understanding of what ‘theory’ means. We argue that common definitions of theory are too restrictive, as they do not acknowledge the existence of multiple kinds of scientific knowledge, but largely recognize only one kind as ‘theory’, namely explanatory knowledge. We elaborate a typology that broadens and clarifies the meaning of ‘theory’. Consisting of five basic theory types – explaining, comprehending, ordering, enacting and provoking theories – the typology offers a framework that enables researchers to develop and assess knowledge in more varied ways and for a broader set of purposes than is typically recognized, as well as... (More)

Developing and evaluating scientific knowledge and its value requires a clear – or at least not too unclear – understanding of what ‘theory’ means. We argue that common definitions of theory are too restrictive, as they do not acknowledge the existence of multiple kinds of scientific knowledge, but largely recognize only one kind as ‘theory’, namely explanatory knowledge. We elaborate a typology that broadens and clarifies the meaning of ‘theory’. Consisting of five basic theory types – explaining, comprehending, ordering, enacting and provoking theories – the typology offers a framework that enables researchers to develop and assess knowledge in more varied ways and for a broader set of purposes than is typically recognized, as well as providing a more level playing field within the academic community.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
scientific knowledge, theoretical contribution, theory, theory development
in
Journal of Management Studies
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:85086155086
ISSN
0022-2380
DOI
10.1111/joms.12587
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a115c3bd-7b5e-4725-ac40-179e36abf676
date added to LUP
2020-07-02 17:04:33
date last changed
2020-09-16 04:47:21
@article{a115c3bd-7b5e-4725-ac40-179e36abf676,
  abstract     = {<p>Developing and evaluating scientific knowledge and its value requires a clear – or at least not too unclear – understanding of what ‘theory’ means. We argue that common definitions of theory are too restrictive, as they do not acknowledge the existence of multiple kinds of scientific knowledge, but largely recognize only one kind as ‘theory’, namely explanatory knowledge. We elaborate a typology that broadens and clarifies the meaning of ‘theory’. Consisting of five basic theory types – explaining, comprehending, ordering, enacting and provoking theories – the typology offers a framework that enables researchers to develop and assess knowledge in more varied ways and for a broader set of purposes than is typically recognized, as well as providing a more level playing field within the academic community.</p>},
  author       = {Sandberg, Jörgen and Alvesson, Mats},
  issn         = {0022-2380},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Journal of Management Studies},
  title        = {Meanings of Theory : Clarifying Theory through Typification},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joms.12587},
  doi          = {10.1111/joms.12587},
  year         = {2020},
}