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New theories and organization research: from the eyes of change

Masoud Shadnam (MacEwan University, Edmonton, Canada)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 30 March 2020

Issue publication date: 16 September 2021




In recent years, organization scholars have engaged in several conversations about the process of theory development, and offered many proposals for building new theories of organization. The purpose of this paper is to highlight a fundamental, fruitful and often neglected method for developing new theories of organization.


This paper draws on Peirce's typology of reasoning: deduction, induction and abduction. This typology helps in analyzing and categorizing the extant proposals for developing new theories of organization, and also makes it visible what approach has been most often missing.


This paper shows that the offered proposals can be categorized into the following two models: (1) armchair theorizing; (2) present capturing. This categorization also highlights a third model – change sensitizing – that is based on shifting organization theories by sensitizing ourselves to macro shifts of organizational reality.


Although the change sensitizing model is an unusual, marginal practice in today's organization research, it has historically been used to develop many of the renowned theories in social sciences. If taken as a serious agenda, it has the potential to generate a host of new, valuable theories of organization.



I am grateful to Steffen Roth, Daniel Hjorth, Andrew Brown, Saku Mantere, and two anonymous JOCM reviewers for insightful comments and encouragements on earlier drafts.


Shadnam, M. (2021), "New theories and organization research: from the eyes of change", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 822-837.



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