What is a theory? LO3723

Olav Djupvik (Olav.Djupvik@BI.NO)
Wed, 15 Nov 1995 10:39:24 +0100

Replying to LO3659 --

I have a few references for those who whould like to read more about
theory and theory construction. I have very much enjoyed reading Karl E.
Weick's article in Academy of Management Review, Vol. 14. No. 4, 1989. The
title of the article is "Theory Construction as Disciplined Imagination".
He adopts Sutherland's (1975) definition of theory - "an ordered set of
assertions about a generic behavior or structure assumed to hold
throughout a significant broad range of specific instances." See also the
same issue of AMR, the article written by David A. Whetten, "What
constitutes a theoretical contribution?"

For those who are still interested I will offer a definiton (or a sort of)
taken from an interesting book called "Readings in the Philosophy of
Social Science" Edited by Michael Martin and Lee C. McIntyre, MIT Press
1994. In this book Fay and Moon writes: "Theories provide a systematic
account of a diverse set of phenomena by showing that the events in
question all result from the operation of a few basic principles." "A
theory goes beyond particular generalizations by showing why the
generalizations hold, and does this by specifying the basic enteties which
constitute the phenomena to be explained, and their modes of interaction,
from which the observed generalizations can be inferred."

Best regards
Olav A. Djupvik

Norwegian School of Management Box 4676, Sofienberg 0506 OSLO

Tel. +47 22 11 55 60 Fax: +47 22 11 56 20 E-Mail: Olav.Djupvik@BI.NO