Borrowing concepts in organization theory

Whetten, David, Felin, Teppo and King, Brayden (2009) Borrowing concepts in organization theory. Journal of Management, 35 (3). pp. 537-563.


The borrowing and application of concepts and theories from underlying disciplines, such as psychology and sociology, is commonplace in organization theory. This article critically reviews this practice in organizational research. It discusses the borrowing of theoretical perspectives across vertical (cross-level) and horizontal (cross-context) boundaries and makes an associated distinction between theories in organizations and theories of organizations. It also explicates several unintended consequences and metatheoretical challenges associated with theory borrowing and highlights the legitimate reasons and ways for borrowing theories. By way of example, this article reviews how theories and concepts have been borrowed and applied in organizational research from two different literatures: individual identity and social movements. Overall, it is argued that treating organizations as social actors is the key to appropriate horizontal and vertical theory borrowing in organizational studies, in that it highlights the distinctive features of the organizational social form and organizational social context.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: organization theory; concept and theory borrowing; interdisciplinary research
Subject(s): Strategy; Entrepreneurship & Global business
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2015 15:48
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2015 15:48
Funders: n/a

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