Essays on Organizational Theories: Stages of Theory Development Literature review

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing

The paper "Organizational Theories: Stages of Theory Development" is a great example of a literature review on management. A theory can be regarded as a system of variables and constructs, whereby the variables are associated with one another through hypotheses while the constructs are associated with each other through propositions (Bacharach, 1989, p. 499). Therefore, a worthy theory is applicable to complex real-life environments and to research contexts that are tightly controlled and highly simplified. In addition, a good theory is generalizable to relevant and well-defined populations and universes beyond particular studies boundaries, wherein it was constructed and tested.

As pointed out by Corley and Gioia (2011, p. 18) a good theory is practical specifically because it develops scientific knowledge, edifies the management profession, and guides research in the direction of crucial questions. A theory can only be good if it pursues the virtues criteria. A good does not only establish empirically observable patterns but also tries to describe the causes. In addition, a good theory has a dynamic element, whereby it explains how one set of circumstances results in another.

A good theory is the one that can be applied to various situations, people, or individual events. Practically, a good theory facilitates the Identification of what factors must be studied and why and how they are connected. More importantly, a high-quality theory outlines the boundaries as well as conditions of relationships (Corley & Gioia, 2011, p. 18). According to Van de Ven (1989, p. 486), a good theory suggests means of strengthening capabilities of theory development; thus, connecting the theory with the professions and disciplines. A good theory can be exposed to rigorous hypothesis analysis and should control, explain, describe, and predict behavior and phenomena (Cramer, 2013, p. 10).

A good theory should focus on the effects rather than the attributes of phenomena. A good theory should enable a person to understand different things in new ways. In general, the proper concepts as cited by Bacharach (1989, p. 501) are required to formulate a good theory, but a good theory is required in order to get proper concepts. Stages of theory development The stages of theory development as shown in figure one include observation, categorization in terms of the attributes of phenomena, and defining relationships (Christensen, 2006, p. 40).

In the first stage (observation), phenomena are observed, and then the researchers carefully measure and describe what they have observed. The researchers are expected to lay a firm foundation by carefully observing, documenting as well as measuring the phenomena in numbers and words. In this stage, constructs are normally developed, and they are abstractions that enable researchers to overcome the cluttered detail in order to fathom the significance of the phenomena and the means of operating them. In the second stage (classification), the researchers build a pyramid, whereby the phenomena are classified into categories.

Importantly, the categorization stage organizes and simplifies the world to an extent that the possible consequential connections between the outcomes of interest and phenomena are highlighted. Christensen (2006, p. 40) refers to the descriptive categorization schemes as typologies or frameworks. In the last stage (defining relationships), the relationship between the phenomena’ s category-defining attributes and the observed outcomes are explored. The researchers make clear the attributes’ differences and methods like regression analysis are normally utilized to define such correlations.

The studies’ output at this stage is commonly known as models.


Bacharach, S., 1989. Organizational Theories: Some Criteria for Evaluation. Academy of Management Fleview, vol. 14, no. 4, pp.496-515.

Christensen, C.M., 2006. The Ongoing Process of Building a Theory of Disruption. Journal of Product Innovation Management , vol. 23, pp.39–55.

Conner, K., Brokaw, S.C. & McManus, K., 2014. Post-Crisis Communication in a Technology Driven Environment: Target Data Breach Analysis. American International Journal of Contemporary Research, vol. 4, no. 6, pp.55-66.

Coombs, W.T., 1997. Attribution Theory as a guide for post-crisis communication research. Public Relations Review, vol. 33, pp.135–39.

Coombs, W.T., 2007. Protecting Organization Reputations During a Crisis: The Development and Application of Situational Crisis Communication Theory. Corporate Reputation Review, vol. 10, no. 3, pp.163–76.

Corley, K.G. & Gioia, D., 2011. Building Theory About Theory Building: What Constitutes A Theoretical Contribution? Academy of Management Review, vol. 36, no. 1, pp.12–32.

Cramer, K.M., 2013. Six Criteria of a Viable Theory: Putting Reversal Theory to the Test. Journal of Motivation, Emotion, and Personality, vol. 1, no. 1, pp.9–16.

Eisenhardt, K.M., 1989. Building Theories from Case Study Research. Academy o/Management Review, vol. 14, no. 4, pp.532-50.

Eisenhardt, K.M. & Graebner, M., 2007. Theory Building From Cases: Opportunities And Challenges. Academy of Management Journal, vol. 50, no. 1, pp.25–32.

Hussein, M.E., Hirst, S., Salyers, V. & Osuji, J., 2014. Using Grounded Theory as a Method of Inquiry: Advantages and Disadvantages. The Qualitative Report, vol. 9, no. 13, pp.1-15.

Leykin, D., Aharonson-Daniel, L. & Lahad, M., 2016. Leveraging Social Computing for Personalized Crisis Communication using Social Media. [Online] Available at:

Manusov, V. & Spitzberg, B., 2008. Attributes of attribution theory: Finding good cause in the search for theory. In Braithwaite, D.O. & Schrodt, ‎. Engaging theories in interpersonal communication. London: SAGE Publications. pp.37-49.

Meredith, J., 1998. Building operations management theory through case and field research. Journal of Operations Management, vol. 16, pp.361–85.

Ngamassi, L., Ramakrishnan, T. & Rahman, S., 2016. Examining the Role of Social Media in Disaster Management from an Attribution Theory Perspective. In Proceedings of the ISCRAM 2016 Conference. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016.

Van de Ven, A.H., 1989. Nothing Is Quite So Practical as a Good Theory. Academy of Managemenl Review, vol. 14, no. 4, pp.486-89.

Weick, K.E., 1989. Theory Construction as Disciplined Imagination. Academy o/Management fieview, vol. 14, no. 4, pp.516-31.

Whetten, D.A., 1989. What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution? Academy o/Management fleview, vol. 14, no. 4, pp.490-95.

Zamani, E.D., Giaglis, G.M. & Kasimati, A.E., 2015. Public Relations Crisis and Social Media: An Investigation into Extant and Prospective Consumers’ Perceptions through the Lens of Attribution Theory. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, vol. 10, no. 2, pp.33-52.

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
Contact Us