What Counts as ‘Theory’ in Qualitative Management and Accounting Research?

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What Counts as ‘Theory’ in Qualitative Management and Accounting Research?

By: Robert Hartono

Qualitative research in the management and accounting disciplines rely in empirical work to gather information on organizational actions, events, structures, and process. This article will focus on what is theory, levels of theorization, how recent works related to the level of theorizing, the implications of defining different level of ‘theory’. It will also explain how ‘levels’ of theory relate to different empirical issues and methodologies.

So what is theory? Theory is defined as an ordered set of assertions about generic behavior or structure assumed to hold throughout a significant broad range of specific instance. Next, theory also forms part of culture, people’s opinion on a particular issues and how should people conduct their action in certain circumstances. The main point of theory is it is formed based on people’s experience, so theory is not accidently created, but it is based on the social phenomena or what is happening on the social culture.

Next, theorization has five (5) levels, such as metaphor, differentiation, concept, theorizing settings, and grand theorizing. The first level, metaphor creates the foundation of the conceptual system and new concept is likely to emerge from this level. It gives an understanding from source to the target, where it transpose by giving a picture of unfamiliar term to be familiar. The second level is differentiation. As mentioned above, theory is made based on people experience. It is created by contrasting and categorizing. The third level is concept, which is a fundamental tools used in social practice and social science to observe and to represent the world and to act and work in it. The forth level is theorizing setting. It addresses specific social, organizational or individual phenomena in their setting. Furthermore, explaining relationship between events creates meaning and significance. Last but not...
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