What are the causes and consequences of workplace boredom? Can the schema theory offer fresh insights into how psychological contracts are formed? What is the value of considering variance in the type of creativity found in creative ideas? You can find the answers to these questions and more in Group and Organization Management‘s 2015 Conceptual Issue.
The simplest question to answer is that of whether conceptual papers are simply papers without data. Yes, conceptual papers do not have data, because their focus is on integration and proposing new relationships among constructs. Thus, the onus is on developing logical and complete arguments for associations rather than testing them empirically. The “but not quite” part of the response to this question centers on the fact that there are plenty of papers that have no data, but which, nonetheless are not what we would consider conceptual papers.
Much has been written on what constitutes a good theory paper. For example, Whetten (1989) noted that conceptual papers should be judged on the basis of seven criteria: (a) What’s new? (b) So what? (c) Why so? (d) Well done? (e) Done well? (f) Why now? and (g) Who cares? Weick (1989) posited that writing theory is an iterative process based on disciplined imagination rather than a focus on validation. And Van de Ven (1989) built upon Weick’s recommendations describing good theory building as that which seeks to address or resolve tensions, inconsistencies, and contradictions surrounding an issue. Interestingly, Cropanzano (2009) described theory papers as more interesting when they “underscore commonalities that build coherence” (p. 1306).
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