Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2020

Abstract

This paper advances and tests a comprehensive but parsimonious model of theory-building/evaluation criteria in management and organization science, and of the relationships between these criteria and a theory's eventual prominence within the discipline. The model is tested using survey data in which knowledgeable scholars are asked to provide a detailed assessment of the traits of one of a few well-known seminal theoretical articles that are used as vehicles. The results support the presence of three distinct but correlated dimensions of theory evaluation (novelty, extendibility, and relevance to practice) and further provide confirmatory evidence of an overarching, second-order construct, which we term the explanatory meaningfulness of a theoretical exposition. Moreover, we find this construct to be a positive and strong predictor of the subsequent perceived importance of a theoretical article among management scholars. By contrast, the logical consistency and the falsifiability of the theoretical exposition were not significantly associated with its perceived importance. Paradoxically, our findings suggest that the most influential theoretical articles in management are those that offer greater explanatory value (stemming from their originality and perceived usefulness for research and practice), regardless of other aspects associated with conventional prescriptions for rigorous theory-making.

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