Theory Development and Research Design

Lecturer Alan R. Dennis, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
Date 08./09.06.2023
with classes at 9am – 4pm each day
Room/Address Georg-Schumann-Building, Room SCH B 37 (TU Dresden, Faculty of Business and Economics)
Seminar content The first day will include lecture, hands-on activities, and group discussion. The course will examine these topics using the example of AI-controlled Chatbots and Digital Humans. The second day will be one-on-one consultations about specific research projects and group discussions. The topics include:
Finding and Selecting Research Projects: The course begins with commonly used sources of research ideas and a framework for selecting and refining ideas to make them more interesting. This introduces the idea of a research project portfolio.
Defining the Project and Writing the Introduction: The next step is to carefully define the nature of project to understand exactly what will be studied and the likely message of the paper is. This provides a set of questions that will help you define the project and uses your answers to write the introduction to the paper.
Theory Development: Writing theory is usually a core part of an empirical paper. We consider phenomenon-based and theory-based research and the need for both relevant and irrelevant literature reviews. This provides a step-by-step approach to developing and writing your theory using the art of story-telling.
Research Design: It is critical to match the design of the research to theory, but in practice, we often match the theory to the research design. We consider the advantages and disadvantages of different methods, and consider the key issues likely to arise in the review process for research papers using primary source data (e.g., preregistration). We touch on secondary data analysis, but do not consider this in depth.
Navigating the Publication Process: We usually spend more time working on a paper after the data are collected than before, so in this topic, we examine how to manage writing time, framing the paper, selecting journals, and navigating the revision process.
Prerequisite Participants must already have some experience with research, paper writing, and publishing.
Preparation material The seminar will discuss the following papers:
What is Theory?
  • Whetten, D.A. “What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution?” Academy of Management Review, 1989 14:4, 490-495.
  • Sutton, R.I, and Staw, B.M. “What Theory is Not,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 1995, 371-384.
  • Gregor, S. “The Nature of Theory in Information Systems,” MIS Quarterly, 30:3, 2006, 611-642.
Where Does Theory Come From?
  • Mintzberg, H., “Developing Theory about the Development of Theory”, 2014
  • Alvesson, M., and Sandberg, J., “Generating research questions through problematization,” Academy of Management Review, 36, 2011, 247–271.
  • Hassan, N.R., Lowry, P.B., and Mathiassen, L., “Useful Products in Information Systems Theorizing: A Discursive Formation Perspective,” Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 23:2, 2022, 418-446.
Developing a Theory Outline
  • Gregory, R.W. and Henfridsson, O. „Bridging Art and Science: Phenomenon-Driven Theorizing,“ Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 22(6), 2021,1509-1523.
  • Borsboom, D. et al. “Theory Construction Methodology: A Practical Framework for Building Theories in Psychology,” Psychological Inquiry, 16(4), 2021, 756-766
Building Theory
  • Fisher, G. and Aguinis, H. “Using Theory Elaboration to Make Theory Advancements,” Organizational Research Methods, 20:3, 2017, 438-464
  • Van De Ven A.H. Chapter 4: Building a Theory, Engaged Scholarship, 2007, Oxford University Press, 100-142.
  • McGrath, J.E. “Dilemmatics: The Study of Research Choices and Dilemmas,” in McGrath, J.E. Judgment Calls in Research, Sage, Beverly Hills, 1982, 69-80.
  • Publishing in AMJ Part 2: Research Design, Academy of Management Journal, 54:4, 2011, 657-660.
  • Publishing in AMJ Part 5: Crafting the Methods and Results, Academy of Management Journal, 55:1, 2012, 8-12.
  • Dennis, A.R. and Valacich, J.S. “Conducting Research in Information Systems,” Communications of the AIS, 7:5, 2001
Publishing Your Paper
  • Straub, D.W. “Why Top Journals Accept Your Paper,” MIS Quarterly, 33:3, 2009, iii-x.
  • Seibert, S.E. “Anatomy of an R&R,” Academy of Management Journal, 49:2, 2006, 203-207
Certificate Doctoral candidates from the Faculty of Business and Economics, TU Dresden can earn a certificate according to § 9 of the Ph.D. doctoral regulations (PromO 2018):
Doctoral candidates of Business Administration: § 9 (1) Nr. 5 or 6
Doctoral candidates of Business Information Systems: § 9 (1) Nr. 6
Doctoral candidates of Economics: § 9 (1) Nr. 6

Doctoral candidates from other universities can earn a certificate as well.
Assignment (1) Attend all classes
(2) Participation in class and group discussions
Registration This course is fully booked – no more registrations are possible.