A conversation with a collaborator about how to write and publish theory led Ted to send me the hot-off-the-press Editor’s comments from the most recent AMR. Got me thinking about some of the other badly needed comments on theory in our field. Distilling them led to the following list. There are many other resources out there about how to think theoretically. These have the advantage of being about the craft of writing and publishing theory. These are all my paraphrases (including colorful language in a few places).
I am very grateful to to the cited authors for offering guidance and directions to those of us setting off across terra incognito.
□ Know that your audience are other scholars interested in same topic, not God, or ignorant savants. Talk to the Guild; the heavens ain’t listening (Rindova 2008).
□ Your theory shall start with a richly detailed problem statement that triggers theorizing (Weick 1989)
□ Your theory shall have a what (elements) a how (processes) and a why (fundamental logic) (Whetten 1989).
□ Your theory shall be a why account that emphasizes the causal nature of events, thoughts, and structure; it delves into reasons for systematic occurrence or non-occurrence.
□ Your theory shall not substitute references, list of variables, diagrams, hypotheses nor data for good theory (Sutton and Straw 1995)
□ Your theory enlightens, illuminates, surprises, delights, and narrates (Weick 1995; Sutton and Straw 1995; DiMaggio 1995).
□ Thou shalt know that the What and How of a theory describe; only Why explains (Whetten 1989).