In this paper, we investigate the dynamics in the field of organization studies. We focus on the market for scholarly publishing and trace how many and which kinds of concepts have been developed and diffused in publications over the last 48 years. We argue that scholars in the publishing market must deal with two kinds of uncertainty: uncertainty on the delicate balance of maintaining research that is both novel and attentive to existing schools of thought, and uncertainty related to the heterogeneity of institutional logics that guide research in the field. We propose that concepts are a means of uncertainty reduction for two reasons. First, working with concepts allows considering both novelty and continuity. Second, working with concepts in a way that follows the dominant field logic helps to reduce uncertainty about what is valued as publishable in the field. We find that the number of concept articles in organization studies has increased, particularly concept articles that align with the dominant logic of positivism.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Augier, Mie, James March, and Bilian Sullivan (2005), Notes on the evolution of a research community: Organization studies in anglophone North America, 1945–2000, Organization Science 16, 85–95.
Bacharach, Samuel (1989), Organizational theories: Some criteria for evaluation, Academy of Management Review 14, 496–515.
Bagozzi, Richard and Lynn Phillips (1982), Representing and testing organizational theories: A holistic construal, Administrative Science Quarterly 27, 459–489.
Barley, Stephen (2006), When I write my masterpiece: Thoughts on what makes a paper interesting, Academy of Management Journal 49, 16–20.
Bartunek, Jean, Sara Rynes, and Duane Ireland (2006), Academy of Management Journal editors’ forum: What makes management research interesting, and why does it matter?, Academy of Management Journal 49, 9–15.
Beckert, Jens (1999), Agency, entrepreneurs, and institutional change. The role of strategic choice and institutional¬ized practices in organizations, Organization Studies 20, 777–799.
Best, Joel (2001), Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling the Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists, Berke¬ley: University of California Press.
Beyer, Janice, Roland Chanove, and William Fox (1995), The review process and the fates of manuscripts submitted to AMJ, Academy of Management Journal 38, 1219–1260.
Blossfeld, Hans-Peter, Katrin Golsch, and Götz Rohwer (2007), Event History Analysis with Stata, New York: Law¬rence Erlbaum Associates.
Burrell, Gibson and Gareth Morgan (1979), Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis: Elements of the Sociol¬ogy of Corporate Life, London: Heinemann Educational Books.
Camic, Charles and Yu Xie (1994), The statistical turn in American social science: Columbia University, 1890 to 1915, American Sociological Review 59, 773–805.
Carnap, Rudolph (1995), An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, New York: Dover Publications.
Clegg, Stewart R., Cynthia Hardy, Thomas B. Lawrence, and Walter R. Nord (2006), The Sage Handbook of Organi¬zation Studies, 2nd ed., London: Sage.
Clemens, Elisabeth S. and James M. Cook (1999), Politics and institutionalism: Explaining durability and change, Annual Review of Sociology 25, 441–466.
Cole, Stephen and Jonathan Cole (1967), Scientific output and recognition: A study in the operation of the reward system in science, American Sociological Review 32, 377–390.
Colquitt, Jason and Cindy Zapata-Phelan (2007), Trends in theory building and theory testing: A five-decade study of the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal 50, 1281–1303.
Daft, Richard (1980), The evolution of organization analysis in ASQ, 1959–1979, Administrative Science Quarterly 25, 623–636.
Daft, Richard, Ricky Griffin, and Valerie Yates (1987), Retrospective accounts of research factors associated with significant and not-so-significant research outcomes, Academy of Management Journal 30, 763–785.
De Rond, Mark and Alan Miller (2006), Publish or perish: Bane or boon of academic life?, Journal of Management Inquiry 14, 321–329.
Denison, Daniel (1996), What is the difference between organizational culture and organizational climate? A natives point of view on a decade of paradigm war’s, Academy of Management Review 21, 619–654.
Dubin, Robert (1969), Theory Building, New York: The Free Press.
Engwall, Lars (1998), Mercury and minerva: A modern multinational academic business studies on a global scale, in José L. Alvarez (ed.), The Diffusion and Consumption of Business Knowledge, London: Macmillan Press, 81–109.
Field, Richard H. G. (1993), The case of the purloined journal article, or on being at the receiving end of academic dishonesty, Journal of Management Inquiry 2, 317–324.
Frey, Bruno (2003), Publishing as prostitution? Choosing between one’s own ideas and academic success, Public Choice 116, 205–223.
Frey, Bruno and Margit Osterloh (2006), Evaluations: Hidden costs, questionable benefits, and superior alternatives, Working Paper, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts, Zurich.
Friedland, Roger and Robert Alford (1991), Bringing society back in: Symbols, practices, and institutional contra¬dictions, in Walter W. Powell, and Paul J. DiMaggio (eds.), The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 232–263.
Frost, Peter and Ronald Taylor (1995), Partisan perspective. A multiple-level interpretation of the manuscript review process in social science journals, in Peter Frost, Anne Huff, Benjamin Schneider, Susan Taylor, and Andrew Van de Ven (eds.), Rhythms of Academic Life. Personal Accounts of Careers in Academia, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage, 13–84.
Giroux, Hélène (2006), ‘It was such a handy term’: Management fashions and pragmatic ambiguity, Journal of Man¬agement Studies 43, 1227–1260.
Glynn, Mary Ann and Michael Lounsbury (2005), From the critics’ corner: Logic blending, discursive change and authenticity in a cultural production system, Journal of Management Studies 42, 1031–1055.
Hannan, Michael and John Freeman (1977), The population ecology of organizations, American Journal of Sociology 82, 929–964.
Hardy, Cynthia, Stewart R. Clegg, and Walter R. Nord (1996), Handbook of Organization Studies, London: Sage.
Hardy, Cynthia and Steve Maguire (2008), Institutional entrepreneurship, in Royston Greenwood et al. (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, London: Sage, 198–217.
Harzing, Anne-Wil (2003), Journal Quality List, www.harzing.com, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Hatch, Mary Jo (1997), Organization Theory, New York: Oxford University Press.
Hempel, Carl (1974), Grundzüge der Begriffsbildung in der empirischen Wissenschaft, Düsseldorf: Bertelsmann Universitätsverlag.
Hennig-Thurau, Thorsten, Gianfranco Walsh, and Ulf Schrader (2006), VHB-Jourqual–Ein Ranking von betriebs-wirtschaftlich relevanten Zeitschriften auf der Grundlage von Urteilen der VHB-Mitglieder, VHB http://www.v-h-b.de.
Heusinkveld, Stefan and Jos Benders (2001), Surges and sediments: Shaping the reception of reengineering, Informa¬tion & Management 38, 239–251.
Heusinkveld, Stefan, Jos Benders, and Christian Koch (2000), Dispersed discourse: Defining the shape of BPR in Denmark and the Netherlands, Working Paper, 16th EGOS Colloquium, Helsinki.
Hirsch, Paul and Daniel Levin (1999), Umbrella advocates versus validity police: A life-cycle model, Organization Science 10, 199–213.
Jermier, John M. (1992), Literary methods and organization science: Reflections on “when in sleeper wakes”, in Peter J. Frost and Ralph E. Stablein (eds.), Doing Exemplary Research, Newbury Park, California: Sage, 210–226.
Judge, Timothy, Daniel Cable, Amy Colbert, and Sara Rynes (2007), What causes a management article to be cited: Article, author, or journal? Academy of Management Journal 50, 491–506.
Kaplan, Abraham (1964), The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science, San Francisco: Chandler Pub¬lishing Company.
Khurana, Rakesh (2007), From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kieser, Alfred (1997), Moden & Mythen des Theoretisierens über die Organisation, in Hans Jürgen Drumm and Christian Scholz (eds.), Individualisierung als Paradigma, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 235–259.
Kieser, Alfred (2007), Entwicklung von Organisationstheorien als Zeitgeistphänomen, zfbf 59, 674–701.
Kieser, Alfred and Mark Ebers (2006), Organisationstheorien, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.
Klamer, Arjo and Hendrik Van Dalen (2002), Attention and the art of scientific publishing, Journal of Economic Methodology 9, 289–315.
Knudsen, Christian (2003), Pluralism, scientific progress, and the structure of organization theory, in Haridimos Tsoukas and Christian Knudsen (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 262–286.
Kuhn, Thomas (1962), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Landry, Maurice (1995), ‘A note on the concept of problem’, Organization Studies 16, 315–343.
Lane, Peter, Balaji Koka, and Seemantini Pathak (2006), The reification of absorptive capacity: A critical review and rejuvenation of the construct, Academy of Management Review 31, 833–863.
Lawrence, Thomas B. and Roy Suddaby (2006), Institutions and institutional work, in Stewart R. Clegg, Cynthia Hardy, Thomas B. Lawrence, and Walter Nord (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Organization Studies, 2nd ed., Lon¬don: Sage, 215–254.
Leca, Bernard and Philippe Naccache (2006), A critical realist approach to institutional entrepreneurship, Organiza¬tion 13, 627–651.
Lounsbury, Michael (2002), Institutional transformation and status mobility: The professionalization of the field of finance, Academy of Management Journal 45, 255–266.
Lounsbury, Michael (2007), A tale of two cities: Competing logics and practice variation in the professionalization of mutual funds, Academy of Management Journal 50, 289–307.
Marquis, Christopher and Michael Lounsbury (2007), Vive la résistance: Competing logics and the consolidation of U.S. community banking, Academy of Management Journal 50, 799–820.
Mars, Matthew M. and Michael Lounsbury (2009), Raging against or with the private marketplace: Logic hybridity and eco-entrepreneurship, Journal of Management Inquiry 18, 4–13.
McKinley, William (2010), Organizational theory development: Displacement of ends?, Organization Studies 31, 47–68.
McKinley, William, Mark Mone, and Gyewan Moon (1999), Determinants and development of schools in organiza¬tion theory, Academy of Management Review 24, 634–648.
Miller, Chet (2006), Peer review in the organizational and management sciences: Prevalence and effects of reviewer hostility, bias, and dissensus, Academy of Management Journal 49, 425–431.
Miner, John B. (2003), The rated importance, scientific validity, and practical usefulness of organizational behavior theories: A quantitative review, Academy of Management Learning and Education 2, 250–268.
Mizruchi, Mark S. and Lisa C. Fein (1999), The social construction of organizational knowledge: A study of the uses of coercive, mimetic, and normative isomorphism, Administrative Science Quarterly 44, 653–683.
Morgan, Gareth (1979), Response to Mintzberg, Administrative Science Quarterly 24, 137–139.
Mowday, Richard (1997), Celebrating 40 years of the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal 40, 1400–1413.
Mullins, Nicolas C., William Snizek, and Kay Oehler (1988), The structural analysis of a scientific paper, in A. F. J. Van Raan (ed.), Handbook of Quantitative Studies of Science and Technology, Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publish¬ers, 81–105.
Nodoushani, Omid (2000), Epistemological foundations of management theory and research methodology, Human Systems Management 19, 71–81.
Osigweh, Chimezie (1989), Concept fallibility in organizational science, Academy of Management Review 14, 579–594.
Pfeffer, Jeffrey (1993), Barriers to the advance of organizational science: Paradigm development as a dependent vari¬able, Academy of Management Review 18, 599–620.
Pfeffer, Jeffrey (2005), Why do bad management theories persist? A comment on Ghoshal, Academy of Management Learning and Education 4, 96–100.
Podsakoff, Philip M., Scott B. MacKenzie, Daniel G. Bachrach, and Nathan P. Podsakoff (2005), The influence of management journals in the 1980s and 1990s, Strategic Management Journal 26, 473–488.
Picot, Arnold, Ralf Reichwald, and Rolf Wigand (2008), Information, Organization and Management, Berlin/Hei¬delberg: Springer-Verlag.
Porter, Theodore M. (1995), Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life, Princeton: Prin¬ceton University Press.
Porter, Theodore M. (1996), Making things quantitative, in Michael Power (ed.), Accounting and Science: Natural Inquiry and Commercial Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 36–56.
Pratt, Michael G. (2009), For the lack of a boilerplate: Tips on writing up (and reviewing) qualitative research, Acad¬emy of Management Journal 52, 856–862.
Reay, Trish and C. R. Hinings (2005), The recomposition of an organizational field: Health care in Alberta, Organiza¬tion Studies 26, 351–384.
Reay, Trish and C. R. Hinings (2009), Managing the rivalry of competing institutional logics, Organization Studies 30, 629–652.
Reed, Michael (2006), Organizational theorizing: A historically contested terrain, in Stewart R. Clegg, Cynthia Hardy, Thomas B. Lawrence, and Walter R. Nord (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Organization Studies, 2nd ed., London: Sage, 19–54.
Rynes, Sara (2005), From the editors. Taking stock and looking ahead, Academy of Management Journal 48, 9–15.
Schatzki, Theodore (2005), The sites of organizations, Organization Studies 26, 465–484.
Scherer, Andreas G. (2003), Modes of explanation in organization theory, in Haridimos Tsoukas and Christian Knudsen (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 310–344.
Schminke, Marshall and Marie Mitchell (2003), From the editors. In the beginning …, Academy of Management Journal 46, 279–282.
Shenhav, Yehouda, Wesley Shrum, and Sigal Alon (1994), ‘Goodness concepts in the study of organizations: A lon¬gitudinal survey of four leading journals’, Organization Studies 15, 753–776.
Spell, Chester S. (1999), Where do management fashions come from, and how long do they stay? Journal of Manage¬ment History 5, 334–348.
Starbuck, William (2005), How much better are the most-prestigious journals? The statistics of academic publication, Organization Science 16, 180–200.
Staw, Barry (1995), Repairs on the road to relevance and rigor. Some unexplored issues in publishing organizational research, in L. L. Cummings and Peter Frost (eds.), Publishing in the Organizational Sciences, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage, 85–97.
Stevenson, William, Jone Pearce, and Lyman Porter (1985), The concept of “coalition” in organization theory and research, Academy of Management Review 10, 256–268.
Suddaby, Roy (2010), Construct clarity in theories of management and organization, Academy of Management Review 35, 346–357.
Suddaby, Roy and Royston Greenwood (2005), Rhetorical strategies of legitimacy, Administrative Science Quarterly 50, 35–67.
Sutton, Robert and Barry Staw (1995), What theory is not, Administrative Science Quarterly 40, 371–384.
Tahai, Alireza and Michael Meyer (1999), A revealed preference study of management journals direct influences’, Strategic Management Journal 20, 279–296.
Thornton, Patricia H. and William Ocasio (1999), Institutional logics and the historical contingency of power in organizations: Executive succession in the higher education publishing industry, 1958–1990, American Journal of Sociology 105, 801–843.
Tsoukas, Haridimos and Christian Knudsen (2003), The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Verbeke, Willem, Marco Volgering, and Marco Hessels (1998), Exploring the conceptual expansion within the field of organizational behaviour: Organizational climate and organizational culture, Journal of Management Studies 35, 303–329.
Von Weizsäcker, Ernst (1974), Erstmaligkeit und Bestätigung als Komponenten der pragmatischen Information, in Ernst von Weizsäcker (ed.), Offene Systeme I. Beiträge zur Zeitstruktur von Information, Entropie und Evolution, Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag, 82–113.
Walsh, James, Klaus Weber, and Joshua Margolis (2003), Social issues and management: Our lost cause found, Journal of Management 29, 859–881.
Weingart, Peter and Sabine Maasen (1997), The order of meaning: The career of chaos as a metaphor, Configurations
Whitley, Richard (2000), The Intellectual and Social Organization of the Sciences, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
We are grateful to Axel Haunschild, Dodo zu Knyphausen-Aufseß, and Arnold Picot for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. We also thank the participants at the Workshop of the Wissenschaftliche Kommission Organisation in 2010 for their suggestions.
About this article
Cite this article
Bort, S., Schiller-Merkens, S. Reducing Uncertainty in Scholarly Publishing: Concepts in the Field of Organization Studies, 1960–2008. Schmalenbach Bus Rev 63, 337–360 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03396823
- Institutional Logic
- Organization Studies
- Publish or Perish