Webinar: Hidden Power of Theoretical Mechanisms

Date: 19th May 1pm-2.30pm (UK Time)

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Just as causal reasoning is central to theorising (Markus and Rowe, 2018), mechanisms are central to theory. Mechanisms are a powerful tool for explaining all the reasoning behind a theory, and can help us produce better theories, but are not often discussed in business and management disciplines. We argue that mechanisms are core not just to theory developed from a critical realist perspective, where they are acknowledged as such, but are, although taking a variety of forms, core to all theory regardless of philosophical stance. Unfortunately, despite their importance, mechanisms have been all but ignored by most of the literature about theory in business and management. Our paper addresses this silence by exploring the different forms mechanisms have taken (whether acknowledged or not) in a number of exemplars that span a wide variety of research approaches. We also look at the literature that discusses mechanisms in other fields to expand the types of mechanisms we consider, and suggest a variety of tools to help researchers identify new mechanisms, and hence new, native theories for our business and management.

Cathy Urquhart is a Professor of Digital Enterprise at the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. Cathy serves as a member of the CABS AJG (Chartered Association of Business School - Academic Journal Guide) Scientific Committee. She is a Senior Editor for the European Journal of Information Systems, an Editorial Board member for the Information Systems Journal, and an Associate Editor for Information Technology and Development. She is currently an Associate Editor for the MIS Quarterly special issue on Next Generation Theories. She is a member of the AIS Special Interest Groups for Global Development (SIGGLOBDEV), Grounded Theory Method (SIGGTM) and of the IFIP 9.4 Working Group on the Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries and IFIP 8.2 Working Group on Information Systems and Organizations. She has a strong interest in the use of grounded theory in information systems, and has written extensively on this topic. Her website can be found here