UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Organizational theory development: Displacement of ends?


McKinley, William (2010). Organizational theory development: Displacement of ends? Organization Studies, 31(1):47-68.

Abstract

In this essay I argue that organization theory has witnessed a significant displacement of ends over the last 30 years. Whereas in the 1960s and 1970s the dominant goal of the discipline was achieving consensus on the validity status of theories, today the overriding goal appears to be development of new theory. Formerly new theory development was considered a means to the end of attaining consensus on theory validity, but was not the only activity deemed necessary to accomplish that goal. In addition, instrumental standardization and replication were viewed as important. The contemporary displacement of ends toward new theory development creates the paradox that organization theory today is both epistemologically simpler (in terms of the intellectual activity deemed desirable) and more complex theoretically than it was 30 years ago. I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the displacement of ends toward new theory development in organization theory, and offer some possible remedies that are designed to reallocate priorities and resources toward the instrumentation, theory testing, and replication components of the research process. I also propose an agenda of future research in the history and sociology of organization science that would study the displacement of ends hypothesized here, with a view to improving our understanding of how organization theory has evolved and how its knowledge could be made more useful to managers.

In this essay I argue that organization theory has witnessed a significant displacement of ends over the last 30 years. Whereas in the 1960s and 1970s the dominant goal of the discipline was achieving consensus on the validity status of theories, today the overriding goal appears to be development of new theory. Formerly new theory development was considered a means to the end of attaining consensus on theory validity, but was not the only activity deemed necessary to accomplish that goal. In addition, instrumental standardization and replication were viewed as important. The contemporary displacement of ends toward new theory development creates the paradox that organization theory today is both epistemologically simpler (in terms of the intellectual activity deemed desirable) and more complex theoretically than it was 30 years ago. I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the displacement of ends toward new theory development in organization theory, and offer some possible remedies that are designed to reallocate priorities and resources toward the instrumentation, theory testing, and replication components of the research process. I also propose an agenda of future research in the history and sociology of organization science that would study the displacement of ends hypothesized here, with a view to improving our understanding of how organization theory has evolved and how its knowledge could be made more useful to managers.

Citations

24 citations in Web of Science®
24 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:05 Apr 2013 12:07
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:13
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN:0170-8406
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0170840609347055
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:4371

Download

Full text not available from this repository.View at publisher

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations