Essay: Theory Development Nature and Use

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[. . .] The question of utility and the value that the theory adds is the next question to be addressed by the authors. In addressing the criteria for a theoretical contribution, the authors spend considerable time asking the question,"what us is this knowledge?" They ask how the theory contributes to the field or how it can be used.

Corley and Gioia explore at length, many different theorists on the topic of theory development. The authors did not rely on empirical research findings, as the topic did not lend itself to such methods. The purpose of the article was to explore present theory and the process of theory generation. They do not support their work through empirical research findings, or formal data collection techniques. Rather they develop their theory by examining qualitatively the works of others in the field and comparing it to their own observations. Their purpose was to better define the contribution that theoretical development can have in advancement of practical knowledge in organizations.

Corley and Gioia's work is both theoretical and practice oriented. They develop theories on the need for originality and utility for theoretical concepts. However their intent was to be able to apply these theories to real world situations and events. The authors do not believe that theory can exist simply for the sake of its own existence. The authors stress the utility and practicality of the knowledge in a given field. Their artiele lacks empirical data, as the topic does not lend itself to the rigors of quantitative testing. It is a practice oriented paper, as it addresses the ability to apply the concepts to real world situations, rather than relying on hypothetical situations to support its existence. The authors illustrate their points through the use of examples and antidotes that illustrate their key arguments.

Corley and Gioia rely on the works of other theorists and other and commentary based on both the academic world and on organizations that utilize the studies. They test their ideas through application to situations and through example. Their work is largely academic argument that explores some of the key problems that confront academic publishing and its ability to define the direction of our knowledge base. The authors explores what constitutes a theoretical construct, the authors also defined what a theoretical construct is not. However, they take a different approach than Sutton and Straw by staying away from the technical parts of the research study. Instead, and the talk about theoretical construct development in general terms that can be applied to different types of research studies.

Corley and Gioia indirectly blame academic reviewers for confining the advancement of theory. They discuss the idea of a certain popularity factor in the research field. When a topic becomes a popular point of discussion, articles that provide a slightly different viewpoint are more likely to be published in those that approach a subject that is completely unrelated and not as popular. The authors blame academic reviewers for confining theoretical development to that which is already known. Theories become popular and widely accepted, thus limiting the ability of theories that are counter theories to be introduced, as they are unlikely to be published.

Without directly stating it, the authors presented a dilemma that hinders the ability to present original ideas. Once a theory is properly seated within the academic community, it can be difficult to displace, even in light of convincing evidence that it may not be true. Corley and Gioia do note that academic journals will be more responsive to articles on a popular topic or theory if they present practical application of the theory to a problem. They make the point that authors are often dissuaded from articles that rely too heavily on practical application rather than theoretical development. However, under the argument presented by Corley and Gioia, this undermines the purpose of theoretical development as a whole.

The implications of Corley and Gioia's work is a call for the academic community to return to its original purpose. The purpose of academic research is to provide solutions to today's problems. Theory is not a solution in and of itself. It is a tool for the development of practical solutions that confront today society. A theory that does not have utility cannot lead to advances and solutions to problems. The problem under investigation is to determine what constitutes a theoretical construct and how to determine if the construct has merit and is worthy of academic attention. They contribute to our understanding of the problem representing two conditions that theories must consider in order to help advance knowledge in the chosen field.

Corley and Gioia help to bring a greater understanding of how the world of academics intersects with the professional world. They bring to light a greater understanding and definition of the rules of academia and organization. The world of academia and the professional world are intimately linked through a need for advancement of knowledge. The authors remind the academic world that they do not exist solely on their own accord but they exist as a support network for the advancement of the professional world. The inner logic of Corley and Gioia relies on the intimacy of this relationship.

Corley and Gioia help bring a deeper understanding of what constitutes strong theoretical development. By doing so, they also help to better define what constitutes week theoretical development. The authors took a different approach than many of their contemporaries who addressed the same subject. The authos emphasize the importance of theory beyond the ability to generate conversation. This work has greater implications beyond the academic field. Their purpose was to tie, or perhaps to reiterate, the bond between the academic world and the professional world.


Corley, K.G., & Gioia, D.A. (2011). Building theory about theory building: What constitutes a theoretical contribution? Academy of Management Review, 36(1), 12-32.

Suddaby, R. (2010). "Construct clarity and theory development." Academy of Management


Sutton, R. And Straw (1995). What Theory is Not. Administrative

Science Quarterly, 40 (3), 371-384.

Jordan, C. And Zanna, M. (1999). How to Read a Journal Article in Social Psychology. University of Waterloo. First Published… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Theory Development Nature and Use.  (2012, February 3).  Retrieved June 26, 2019, from

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"Theory Development Nature and Use."  February 3, 2012.  Accessed June 26, 2019.