The value of qualitative empirical research in the management and accounting disciplines lies in its “conceptual framing” of organizational actions, events, processes, and structures. Argues that the possibilities for conceptual framing extend beyond the highly abstract schema generally considered as “theories” by academics. In support of this argument, distinguishes five different forms of theorization. Explores the relationship between these theoretical “levels” and the different issues that empirical research explores, arguing that, as the “level” of theorizing “rises”, issues of agency give way to a focus on practice and, in turn, to a concern with structure. As this happens, research aims directed towards abstraction and explanation supersede those for contextualization and understanding. Concludes that views on “what counts as theory” are, currently, too narrow to conceptualize agency, emergence and change adequately in organizational life and, hence, the full range of significant empirical phenomena that characterize the management and accounting areas are not being researched.
Llewelyn, S. (2003), "What counts as “theory” in qualitative management and accounting research? Introducing five levels of theorizing", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 662-708. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513570310492344Download as .RIS
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