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Extant studies of theory evaluation rely on hindsight even though editors' entreaties are meant to be studied ex ante and applied in real time. The authors elaborate on the definitional requirements of theory and ways to appraise it. The authors present a synoptic chronology of the main trends in management theory evaluation, and discuss the methodological differences between formal theories and actual management schemes. This discussion leads us to adopt a constructivist perspective and replace “Popperian falsifiability” when inapplicable to management. The authors then introduce the concept of adaptive framing as a tripartite process subsuming the criteria of novelty, practicability and extendibility through consistency, which the authors argue to be the necessary requirements for perfectible theory-building in management.

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