Theory by nuhman10


                Theory Building Workshop
                            Prof. Ellen Christiaanse
         ESADE Chair Information and Communication Systems
                      ESADE Business School
                            Part 1: Barcelona, May 2-4, 2006
                            Part 2: Barcelona, June 6-8, 2006

                              Draft Course Outline 03/03/06

Workshop Description:
        Science is not just about discovering facts, it’s about explaining what the facts
mean. Explanations for, and interpretations of, empirical phenomena are theories, and
constructing and modifying theories are core scientific activities. Good theory is essential
to the many new fields for several reasons. First, good theory provides guidance for
practical action and therefore should be at the foundation of curricula. Second, without
good theory in any particular field, researchers must borrow theories from other academic
disciplines. Since these theories might not fit our subject matter well. For example in IS
theory these borrowed theories from other disciplines rarely reflect substantive features
of the “IT artifact”.
        Research courses commonly emphasize empirical research methods and formal
modeling approaches to theory development. There is much less guidance for those who
want to build theory for managerial and behavioral studies—yet every researcher must do
so to develop a good research proposal. This workshop aims to fill that gap by focusing
on theory types and evaluation criteria, theory development processes, and theoretical
        During the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to practice theory-
building techniques. Participants are requested to complete a short reading and short
written assignment prior to the workshop as a basis for workshop exercises. Participants
will receive a bibliography of resources for their future theory-building efforts.
    On completing the course, students will be able to:
     Articulate the role played by theory in research and the need for (IS) specific
     Define and distinguish among several different types of theories and their most
        important evaluation criteria
     Explain the challenges of theoretical writing and articulate various strategies for
        coping with these challenges
Organization of Workshop:

This workshop is organized in 2 parts which can be followed independently:
Part 1: Theory Building
Part 2: Academic Writing related to Theory Building

Target Audience and Fees:
The target audience is young researchers and other interested candidates from a variety of
areas in managerial and behavioral studies. Registration is limited.

Prework for the Workshops
    Read the paper:
         o Gregor, S. (2002). A theory of theories in information systems. In S.
            Gregor and D. Hart (Eds.), Information Systems Foundations: Building
            the Theoretical Base. Australian National University, Canberra, 1-20.
         o Additional readings will be provided
    Bring to the workshop:
         o A research question or topic of interest to you for which you believe more
            theoretical development is needed
         o Brief descriptions of two or more existing theories that apply to this
            question or topic and short statements about why you believe they are
         o Ideas that you wish to incorporate into a specific theory of that question or

Workshop Schedule:

Part 1: Theory Building
May 2nd 2006:
          o Introductions
          o Workshop objectives
          o Why theory is needed in various fields (IS, Knowledge management etc.)

May 3rd 2006 :
          o Types of theories and their unique characteristics
          o The theory development process
          o Practice developing theory for participants’ research questions

May 4th 2006:
          o Challenges of, and strategies for, theoretical writing
          o Applying the “theory of theories” to participants’ research questions
Part 2: Academic Writing related to Theory Building
This 3 day workshop on the interplay between thinking and writing related to
theory building will be an excellent follow up for those who were able to attend
part one of this workshop or for those who attended the successful Theory
Building I Workshop by Prof. M. Lynne Markus (Bentley, USA) and Ellen
Christiaanse in March 2004.

However part 2 of this workshop can also be followed independently of part one.
A reading list of the recommended papers of the first workshop is provided at We will spend some
time on the first day to review some of the main techniques discussed in Theory
Building I.

The focus of this second workshop will be the thinking and writing process
associated with writing theory pieces either as introductions to empirical papers
or as full theoretical contributions. The workshop will focus on topics such as
conceptualizing during the theory building process, effective writing strategies
and tactics, common writing problems, publishing theoretical papers, and
reviewing theoretical contributions. The workshop will be run in a very
participatory format. Students will have the opportunity to extensively work in
small groups, to critique writing samples and to try out solutions to various writing
problems. Below a more detailed list of topics addressed during the workshop is

Preliminary Topic Outline Part 2:

June 6th 2006 : Writing Theoretical Contributions
           o Review of Theory building techniques
           o Writing strategies (e.g., outlining) and tactics (e.g., use of figures
              and tables)
           o How to structure a research report for an academic journal
           o Writing good abstracts and introductions—the most important and
              challenging writing tasks
           o How to write a good review of prior theory and research
           o How to use references—and bibliographic software
           o How to write the “discussion” of your findings
           o What distinguishes good articles from bad ones

June 7th 2006: Specific writing problems
           o How to write theory/conceptual papers
            o How to write qualitative research
            o How to write technical papers and papers based on formal

June 8th 2006: Publishing your work
           o Where to start?
           o What do reviewers look at?
           o Defining a publication strategy for your work

On completing the course, students will be able to:

       Articulate the role played by theory in research and the need for specific
       Explain the challenges of theoretical thinking and articulate various
        strategies for coping with these challenges
       Define and distinguish among several different types of writing strategies
        and tactics which can be applied during the academic writing process.

Pre-workshop Assignment:
Students will be asked to bring the following to the workshop (shouldn't all be
from same paper)

           example of a good abstract and a bad abstract
           example of a good "introduction" and a bad introduction
           example of a good diagram of a conceptual model
           example of a good methods section
           example of a good discussion section

Feedback provided by participants of Theory Building I:

Below some excerpts from emails from some of the participants of the Theory
Building Workshop in March 2004 given by Prof. M. Lynne Markus and Ellen

“ Prof. Markus makes an extraordinary contribution which turns fear of review rejections and
frustration regarding incommensurable theoretical viewpoints into possibilities for theory building
that encourages and drives direction in our work. I am grateful for having been able to experience
Prof. Markus’ wisdom.”

 “ Most workshops or PhD courses are able to provide the participant the possibility to reach a
higher level of knowledgeability. But very few of those I have participated in during my PhD studies
have managed to combine this with encouragement, delight, trust, direction and increased
enthusiasm. Thus, the workshop with Prof. Markus was not only a special event, but an event
which catalyzed a process of thinking in which I will certainly benefit throughout, and long after, the
PhD studies. “

“ In particular, I want to emphasize the value of this workshop in contributing encouragement and
direction. Many PhD students, and myself included, often find it hard to specify a concrete direction
as we often find ourselves navigating between many theoretical paradigms. To obtain a set of
frames to address the many theoretical paradoxes is thus pivotal.”

“ I hope she comes back and we have other efficient seminars like this where we
learn so much in a short period of time.”

 “ I also want to thank you for the wonderful evening events organized in relation to the workshop. It
was fantastic to meet, discuss, socialize and become acquainted with the other participants. This
not only facilitated new professional connections to become established, but I believe it both
created better dynamics and discussions at the workshop, as well as enabled us to create future
ties for research collaboration.”

“Thank you very much for making the workshop in Barcelona memorable and enthusing. I will
definitely keep my eyes open for forthcoming PhD events at ESADE.”

More Information and Registration:
Dr. Ellen Christiaanse

To top