European Journal of Information Systems

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 45–55 | Cite as

Using grounded theory as a method for rigorously reviewing literature

  • Joost F WolfswinkelEmail author
  • Elfi Furtmueller
  • Celeste P M Wilderom
Research Article


This paper offers guidance to conducting a rigorous literature review. We present this in the form of a five-stage process in which we use Grounded Theory as a method. We first probe the guidelines explicated by Webster and Watson, and then we show the added value of Grounded Theory for rigorously analyzing a carefully chosen set of studies; it assures solidly legitimized, in-depth analyses of empirical facts and related insights. This includes, the emergence of new themes, issues and opportunities; interrelationships and dependencies in or beyond a particular area; as well as inconsistencies. If carried out meticulously, reviewing a well-carved out piece of literature by following this guide is likely to lead to more integrated and fruitful theory emergence, something that would enrich many fields in the social sciences.


grounded theory systematic state-of-the-art literature reviews theory development theory emergence 


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Copyright information

© Operational Research Society 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joost F Wolfswinkel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elfi Furtmueller
    • 1
  • Celeste P M Wilderom
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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