Definition and meanings in theory building from Socrates to grounded theory and sensemaking

Producció científica: Contribució a una conferènciaContribució


Defining concepts and precising the meanings of words are two basic operations in management research and theory building. They can involve deep and long discussions, such as those that we find, for instance, around the notion of knowledge. These operations seem to be so closely related that they are usually considered to be the same activity. They are, however, based on different ontological status, epistemological conceptions and methodological approaches. Amazingly, the complexities of defining concepts and precising the meanings of words are not always clear for researchers. In fact, they are not considered in the current curricula of epistemology and methodology in management research and doctoral studies. Moreover, formal theories, such as those of mathematics and economics, usually introduce definitions as starting points and do not comment the long discussions that led to them. On the one hand, the subject of what are concepts and how to define them has an important history in the Western tradition. The Socratic dialogues present many examples on the search for definitions. Plato focussed on the ontologic status of concepts and Aristotle worked on their ontologic and logic aspects. Contemporary studies such as those by Lakatos insist on the empirical foundations and logical conventions of definitions. On the other hand, many contemporary approaches to the meanings of words, which follow the revolutionary views of Wittgenstein, reject the notion of concepts. They characterize meanings in different linguistic games. In that line, Lakoff introduced the notion of radial categories. As we will emphasize, Grounded Theory and other methods of sensemaking for generating theory do not focus on the definitions of concepts but in common meanings of names.
Idioma originalAnglès
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 17 de maig 2006
Esdeveniment6th EURAM Annual Conference 2006 -
Durada: 1 de maig 200620 de maig 2006


Conferència6th EURAM Annual Conference 2006


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