Addressing the "Too Much Theory" Problem in Management Research: Abductive Reasoning and the Role of AMD



Management and Organizational research is largely grounded on two basic logics or epistemological approaches, namely induction and deduction. However, increasingly scholars have begun to question whether the grounding of our field in these two logics alone may be overly restrictive, generating obtuse and abstract results and limiting our relevance to the broader community which our science seeks to serve. 


In Part I of this workshop, Professor Bamberger will present a complementary scientific logic, one grounded on abductive reasoning (i.e., inference to the best plausible explanation). Building upon Mantere & Ketokivi's (2013: 72) statement that, “we predict, confirm, and disconfirm through deduction, generalize through induction, and theorize through abduction,” he will distinguish the latter from these other two, more established scientific logics. After demonstrating how abduction serves as the basis for many other scientific fields, he will argue that it also serves as the under-recognized (and often maligned) basis upon much of what we do as management scholars. He will also discuss the three types of situations for which such an approach may be most suitable, namely to:


· Surface significant new or emerging phenomenon using any number of empirical approaches including rich description, quantitative construct validation, and/or empirical taxonomic analyses.

· Identify and explore surprising relationships using rigorous qualitative and/or quantitative methods in order to develop plausible explanations for those relationships and provide a grounded basis for innovative theorizing.

· Leverage original, secondary or “big” data and any number of alternative approaches (including lab and field/quasi-experiments, meta-analyses and replication studies) in order to offer empirically-driven insights into and/or a plausible resolution of critical anomalies and discrepant findings.


Part I of the workshop will end with a brief discussion of how such research is reviewed, evaluated and constructively developed when submitted to Academy of Management Discoveries.


Part II of the workshop will be dedicated to paper development.