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Does it ‘pay’ to be on time? Different conceptualizations of time in qualitative theorizing and the link to citation impact.



Gibbert M.



Time plays an integral role in the everyday working of an organization. Time also plays a methodological role in developing rigorous, in-depth theoretical understanding of organizational phenomena (Ballard, 2008), i.e. it plays a central role in the theorizing process. Albeit, management and organization research have largely ignored this particular role of time at the interface of methodology and the qualitative theorizing process (Ballard, 2008; George & Jones, 2000; Ployhart, et al., 2002; Roe, 2008). It is therefore not surprising to see that management and organization studies scholarship lacks diverse processes of theorizing (Delbridge, 2013; Piekkari & Welch, 2011; Welch et al, 2011), despite the numerous calls to embrace more pluralistic approaches to theorizing (Brannen & Doz, 2010; Delbridge, 2013; Piekkari, et al., 2009; Ragins, 2015; Welch, et al., 2011; Welch & Piekkari, 2017). This lack of attention has been attributed to practical problems, such as lack of resources, including, ironically, not having enough time to consider time (McGrath and Kelly, 1986; Ancona, Okhuysen & Perlow, 2001). The result is a significant lacunae when it comes to methodological guidance in qualitative research on the usage of time (Ancona, Okhuysen & Perlow, 2001; Ancona, et al., 2001) in the theorizing process. The project proposed here focuses squarely on this role of time, how it is used at the intersection of methods and theory, and how the different intersections (we propose four) ‘pay out’ in terms of impact (i.e. citation count). The impetus of the proposed idea emerged during the coding phase of the data that has been collected for the ongoing SNSF grant 100018_165634. Our first round of open coding showed that published qualitative papers in top management and organization journals, when theorizing, did not transparently report on the treatment of time, even after explicitly positioning themselves as a longitudinal study. This insight motivated the current project proposal that wants to empirically investigate how time is used in the theorizing process for qualitative research.

Additional information

Start date
End date
48 Months
Funding sources
External partners
CERIC Leeds University Business School University of Leeds Department of Methodology & Statistics University of Utrecht
Swiss National Science Foundation / Project Funding / Division I - Humanities and Social Sciences