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Low heed in organization theory


McKinley, William; Wood, Matthew S; Moon, Gyewan (2011). Low heed in organization theory. M@n@gement, 14(3):153-181.

Abstract

This essay borrows the construct of “heedful interrelating” from Weick and Roberts’s (1993) study of aircraft carrier flight decks, and uses the construct to analyze the social processes that structure contemporary scholarship in organization theory. We argue that organization theory often operates as a low-heed discipline, in which scholars take minimal heed of the contributions of their fellows. This condition of low heed is revealed in several specific aspects of the discipline: lack of attention to testing previously published theories, lack of emphasis on replication of published empirical research, low standardization of construct definition and measurement, and a minimally developed division of labor between theorists and empirical researchers. We explore the causes of this low-heed state in contemporary organization theory, and we also enumerate some advantages of low heed in the discipline. We devote attention to the effects of low heed on the training of newcomers to the field, and we argue that doctoral education in organization theory is both an effect and a cause of low heed. Finally, we offer some suggestions for incorporating more scholarly heed into organization theory without destroying the major advantage of a low-heed discipline – freedom of inquiry. We also indicate how a cautious increase of heedful interrelating in organization theory might improve the perceived relevance of its research results for management practice.

Abstract

This essay borrows the construct of “heedful interrelating” from Weick and Roberts’s (1993) study of aircraft carrier flight decks, and uses the construct to analyze the social processes that structure contemporary scholarship in organization theory. We argue that organization theory often operates as a low-heed discipline, in which scholars take minimal heed of the contributions of their fellows. This condition of low heed is revealed in several specific aspects of the discipline: lack of attention to testing previously published theories, lack of emphasis on replication of published empirical research, low standardization of construct definition and measurement, and a minimally developed division of labor between theorists and empirical researchers. We explore the causes of this low-heed state in contemporary organization theory, and we also enumerate some advantages of low heed in the discipline. We devote attention to the effects of low heed on the training of newcomers to the field, and we argue that doctoral education in organization theory is both an effect and a cause of low heed. Finally, we offer some suggestions for incorporating more scholarly heed into organization theory without destroying the major advantage of a low-heed discipline – freedom of inquiry. We also indicate how a cautious increase of heedful interrelating in organization theory might improve the perceived relevance of its research results for management practice.

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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:2011
Deposited On:05 Apr 2013 11:49
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:13
Publisher:D M S P Research Center
ISSN:1286-4892
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3917/mana.143.0154
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:7606

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