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  • Sascha Albers, Professor of International Management, Dept. of Management, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
  • Jenny Gibb, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Strategy and HRM, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand


Purpose and contents: As a PhD candidate you will need to develop theory in one way or the other. It is therefore important to understand what theory is, in which types it comes along and what differentiates theories proper from proximate constructs such as models and frameworks, which themselves may constitute important, valuable and significant conceptual contributions.

Based on this understanding, participants will get to know types of conceptual papers and discuss criteria for assessing theoretical contributions. Accordingly, this module aims to deepen participants’ appreciation of theory building and to assist them in crafting potentially valuable and effective conceptual research papers. This module will also encourage participants to improve their analytical abilities to critically evaluate contemporary management research. This  course combines lectures with group exercises, critical discussions, and participant presentations.

After this course students will be able to:

  • Identify and understand what constitutes a theoretical contribution,
  • Differentiate between different types of theories and theoretical contributions,
  • Better develop their own conceptual frameworks and theories,
  • Critically review and assess the theoretical contribution of research papers,
  • Develop improved analytical skills in crafting their own (theory) papers.



The course is offered in an intensive, blocked format that combines traditional lectures with group exercises, critical discussions, and participant presentations. Students should complete readings prior to attending the relevant session.


DAY 1: September 24, 2019

9.00- 9.30              Welcome

9.30 -12.30           Foundations of Theory Building, Theory Types, Paper Types

14.00-18:00         Student Workshop: Defining your theoretical contribution

DAY 2: September 25, 2019

9.00 -12.30           Strategies to Make Contributions

14.00-18:00         Student Conference: Presenting your theoretical contribution

DAY 3: September 26, 2019

9.00 -12.30           Paper Submission, Processing, and Reviewer Handling -- Reconstructing the Journey and Evolution of the 2016 Albers et al. Journal of Management article

14.00-18:00         Student Workshop: AMR Best Paper Analysis:
Van de Ven & Poole (1989); Chen (1996); Birkinshaw, Hamel & Mol (2008); Mainemelis (2010)

DAY 4: September 27, 2019

9.00 – 12.00      Learning from AMR Best Papers

12.00 – 12.30   Evaluation and Farewell


Required readings prior to the course (read with a focus on the architecture of the article, not necessarily the contents):

For days 1 and 2:            

Suarez, F. F., & Lanzolla, G. (2007). The Role of Environmental Dynamics in Building a First Mover Advantage Theory. Academy of Management Review, 32(2), 377-392.
Barney, J. B. 1991. Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1): 99-120.
Chen, M.-J. 1996. Competitor Analysis and Interfirm Rivalry: Toward a Theoretical Integration. Academy of Management Review, 21(1): 100-134.
Miller, K. D. 2002. Competitive strategies of religious organizations. Strategic Management Journal, 23(5): 435-456.

For days 3 and 4:

Original, initial submission of: Albers, S., Wohlgezogen, F., & Zajac, E. J. 2016. Strategic Alliance Structures: An Organization Design Perspective. Journal of Management, 42(3): 582-614. [text will be provided by the lecturers]
Chen, M.-J. (1996). Competitor Analysis and Interfirm Rivalry: Toward a Theoretical Integration. Academy of Management Review, 21(1), 100-134.
Mainemelis, C. (2010). Stealing Fire: Creative Deviance in the Evolution of New Ideas. Academy of Management Review, 35(4), 558-578.
Andrew H. Van De Ven, V., & Poole, M. S. (1995). Explaining Development and Change in Organizations. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 510-540.
Birkinshaw, J., Hamel, G., & Mol, M. J. (2008). Management Innovation. Academy of Management Review, 33(4), 825-845.

Further useful readings:

Alvesson, M. & Sandberg, J. 2013. Constructing research questions: doing interesting research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Bacharach, S. B. 1989. Organizational Theories: Some Criteria for Evaluation. Academy of Management Review, 14(4): 496-515.

Bunge, M. A. 1996. Finding Philosophy in Social Science. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

Corley, K. G. & Gioia, D. A. 2011. Building Theory about Theory Building: What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution? Academy of Management Review, 36(1): 12-32.

Cornelissen, J. (2017). Editor’s Comments: Developing Propositions, a Process Model, or a Typology? Addressing the Challenges of Writing Theory Without a Boilerplate. Academy of Management Review, 42(1), 1-9.

Grant, A. M., & Pollock, T. G. 2011. Publishing in AMJ—Part 3: Setting the Hook. Academy of Management Journal, 54(5): 873-879.

Lange, D., & Pfarrer, M. D. (2017). Editors’ Comments: Sense and Structure—The Core Building Blocks of an AMR Article. Academy of Management Review, 42(3), 407-416. doi:10.5465/amr.2016.0225

Whetten, D. A. 1989. What Constitutes A Theoretical Contribution? Academy of Management Review, 14(4): 490-495.



Evaluation/Assessment: There are three component parts to the assessment which are due on September 16 and in October 21, 2019.

Component 1: Participants will complete a project proposal for a conceptual research paper. This will be an individual piece of assessment. The proposal will include a problem statement, objective, short description of its structure, and intended contribution (length: 1000 words max.) and a brief Powerpoint presentation that summarizes these main points (5 slides max.). This assignment is worth 30% of the final grade. The proposal must be submitted by  September 16, 2019 via E-Mail to sascha.albers@uantwerpen.be (i.e. prior to the course). Supporting sources: Grant & Pollock (2011) and Lange & Pfarrer (2017).

Component 2: Participants prepare a revision plan for their project proposal that summarizes their action plan for its revision. This revision plan should explicitly related to (a) the key feedback points from the student workshop and conference, and (b) potential learnings from the course (length: 1000 words max.). An actual revision is NOT required. This will be an individual assessment worth 40% of the final grade. It must be submitted by October 14, 2019 via E-Mail to sascha.albers@uantwerpen.be (i.e. after the course).

Component 3: A reflective essay in which students will identify and critically analyze the immediate and long term value they believe they have got from the core component parts offered in this course. This assessment will account for 30% of the final grade and is due  October 21, 2019 via E-Mail to sascha.albers@uantwerpen.be (i.e. after the course).

Credits: 4 ECTS


Interested doctoral students should register online (and add the required documents) no later than June 24, 2019. Besides doctoral students, other researchers may participate. The number of participants will be limited to create a stimulating environment. The selection among the applicants will be conducted by the Institute’s Faculty. They will review the following documents which should necessarily complement each application form:

  • the applicant’s curriculum vitae demonstrating his/her capabilities of doing research ;
  • a letter of recommendation of his/her local faculty supporting the application ;
  • a two-page description of his/her doctoral research, indicating the general objectives.


TThe participation fee is 1100 € (VAT exempt). This fee includes participation to the seminar, the documents, lunches and one group dinner.

The Institute offers a substantial reduction of the participation fee per member institution (one scholarship per member institution)Scholarships are strictly limited to students coming from an EIASM Institutional Member (the Academic Council). Allocation of the scholarships is entirely at the discretion of the European Institute.

Cancellations made before August 19, 2019 will be reimbursed with 10% deduction of the total fee. No reimbursement will be possible after this date.


The seminar will be held in Antwerp, Belgium.
The programme will start on September 24, 2019 and is scheduled to end September 27, 2019

You are requested to make your own hotel arrangement.

A list of recommended hotels will be posted shortly.




The maximum number of participants has been reached.
Please contact the EDEN manager.

For more information, please contact:
Ms. Nina Payen
Tel: +32 2 226 66 61 - Fax: +32 2 512 19 29
Email: payen@eiasm.be