The Role of Theory in Supply Chain Management: A Comprehensive Review

Dane Paul Pflueger, Andreas Wieland, Christopher Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This paper contributes to contemporary debates over the apparent tradeoff between relevance and rigor in supply chain management (SCM) research. Building on Suddaby (2015), we advance the case for explicit and reflexive engagement with a diversity of paradigmatic choices and their alternatives as part of a healthy system of knowledge production. Based on an analysis of recent articles published across twelve SCM journals, we find a diversity and strength in research across a stylized dichotomy between modelling and empiricism, and between work adopting both quantitative and qualitative methods. Whilst there is great strength in all of these positivist endeavors however, our analysis illuminates a scarcity of work that treats theory as a normative tool for fashioning lenses that allow us to analyze the world as it might be. Drawing from examples of interpretive work from adjacent disciplines we elaborate the possibilities of this role of theory to complement the strength of the existing system of knowledge production. Specifically, it is argued that through its more explicit engagement with values, interpretive research can help to support the relevance of all SCM research. This is partly through the introduction of new forms of questions that arise from an interpretivist paradigm. Perhaps more importantly, however, greater paradigmatic pluralism would add to the reflexive capacity of the field also in relation to existing forms of questions addressed through positivistic work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Volume2019
Issue number1
Number of pages1
ISSN2151-6561
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this

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title = "The Role of Theory in Supply Chain Management: A Comprehensive Review",
abstract = "This paper contributes to contemporary debates over the apparent tradeoff between relevance and rigor in supply chain management (SCM) research. Building on Suddaby (2015), we advance the case for explicit and reflexive engagement with a diversity of paradigmatic choices and their alternatives as part of a healthy system of knowledge production. Based on an analysis of recent articles published across twelve SCM journals, we find a diversity and strength in research across a stylized dichotomy between modelling and empiricism, and between work adopting both quantitative and qualitative methods. Whilst there is great strength in all of these positivist endeavors however, our analysis illuminates a scarcity of work that treats theory as a normative tool for fashioning lenses that allow us to analyze the world as it might be. Drawing from examples of interpretive work from adjacent disciplines we elaborate the possibilities of this role of theory to complement the strength of the existing system of knowledge production. Specifically, it is argued that through its more explicit engagement with values, interpretive research can help to support the relevance of all SCM research. This is partly through the introduction of new forms of questions that arise from an interpretivist paradigm. Perhaps more importantly, however, greater paradigmatic pluralism would add to the reflexive capacity of the field also in relation to existing forms of questions addressed through positivistic work.",
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The Role of Theory in Supply Chain Management: A Comprehensive Review. / Pflueger, Dane Paul; Wieland, Andreas; Chapman, Christopher .

In: Academy of Management Proceedings, Vol. 2019, No. 1, 2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalResearchpeer-review

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AU - Wieland, Andreas

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AB - This paper contributes to contemporary debates over the apparent tradeoff between relevance and rigor in supply chain management (SCM) research. Building on Suddaby (2015), we advance the case for explicit and reflexive engagement with a diversity of paradigmatic choices and their alternatives as part of a healthy system of knowledge production. Based on an analysis of recent articles published across twelve SCM journals, we find a diversity and strength in research across a stylized dichotomy between modelling and empiricism, and between work adopting both quantitative and qualitative methods. Whilst there is great strength in all of these positivist endeavors however, our analysis illuminates a scarcity of work that treats theory as a normative tool for fashioning lenses that allow us to analyze the world as it might be. Drawing from examples of interpretive work from adjacent disciplines we elaborate the possibilities of this role of theory to complement the strength of the existing system of knowledge production. Specifically, it is argued that through its more explicit engagement with values, interpretive research can help to support the relevance of all SCM research. This is partly through the introduction of new forms of questions that arise from an interpretivist paradigm. Perhaps more importantly, however, greater paradigmatic pluralism would add to the reflexive capacity of the field also in relation to existing forms of questions addressed through positivistic work.

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