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Examining "Borrowed Theory" in Original vs. New Disciplines via Text Mining


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Examines the differences in borrowed theories from their parent to their appropriated disciplines, specifically related to qualitative vs. quantitative use and changes in their applications over time, via text mining of peer-reviewed journal articles.

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Examining "Borrowed Theory" in Original vs. New Disciplines via Text Mining

  1. 1. “Borrowed Theory” in Original vs. New Disciplines Stephen Downing 10 Jan. 2014
  2. 2. Content Brief Literature Review Research Questions Data & Analysis Results Conclusions 2
  3. 3. Brief Literature Review
  4. 4. Borrowed Theory Examples Borrowed Theory Application Social Exchange explore motivational factors of knowledge sharing in large, information-intensive organizations Hall, 2003 Evolutionary interpret how firms renew organizational competencies Burgelman, 1991 Ecosystem explain firm competition and cooperation with internationally interconnected and interdependent supply chains, customers, complementors, etc. Moore, 1993 4
  5. 5. Classifications of Borrowed Theories Cross-level (vertical) Cross-Context (horizontal) Borrowing theories that were developed at different levels of analysis Paradigmatic Theories Propositional Arguments Borrowing theories developed for study of phenomena in other social contexts Broad theory used to explain phenomena One concept used to explain another concept Example: Example: Example: Example: social involvement literature from sociology (Davis et al, 2004) used for organizational research Keystone effect from ecology to management science (to be addressed later) behavioral theory (March and Simon, 1958) and equity theory (Mowday, 1991) to explain differences in employee motivation level of environmental uncertainty (Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967) to explain the levels of integration and differentiation among organizational units Source: Whetten, Felin, & King, 2009 Source: Prabhakar, 2010 5
  6. 6. Limitation of Theory Borrowing: Between Disciplines: Application Origination Within Discipline: 6
  7. 7. Example of Misused Borrowed Theory • Freudian theories applied to motivational research for marketing purposes in 1940’s and 1950’s. • Proved ineffective and inappropriate; eventually discontinued. • Murray and Evers argue it’s due to three aspects of borrowed theory. Motivation Research Freudian Theories Helping Disturbed Patients Superstructure Explaining Typical Behavior Interpretive Type of Science Logical Empirical Psychoanalysis: 19th Century Vienna Social Context Consumer Behavior: 1950’s America Source: Murray & Evers, 1989 7
  8. 8. Trade-offs of Theory Borrowing Usefulness Debate Appropriateness Debate Benefits Costs Pro Con Essential for interdisciplinary fields (e.g., marketing) Has led to dead-ends Sacrifice goal of developing management science as legitimate academic field Has led to creative and illuminating issues of theory Wasted time of researchers Borrowing Theories has helped organizational studies develop credibility and legitimacy (Agarwal and Hetker, 2007) Opportunities in three types: 1. Application/replication 2. Extension (focal domain) 3. Transformation (parent domain) Theories should be built within focal domain Efficient to use available Wasted resources of resources for research academic institutions Source: Murray & Evers, 1989; Murray, Evers, & Janda, 1995 Source: Floyd, 2009; Zahra & Newey, 2009; Markoczy & Deeds, 2009 8
  9. 9. Research Questions
  10. 10. • The type of research usually depends on the level of uncertainty and the timeframe. Qualitative Quantitative • How does the application of borrowed theory compare in the original and new disciplines? Level of Uncertainty Methodological Implications Suitable Research Type for Context Exploratory Descriptive Causal Time from Awareness of Problem 10
  11. 11. Research Questions • 1. Does application of the borrowed theory differ from original to new discipline?  How? • Qualitative vs. quantitative • Exploratory (or descriptive) vs causal • 2. Does the research methodology of applying the borrowed theory change over time?  How? • Early, middle, vs. late periods after theory introduced (borrowed) • 3. Does that change over time differ between the original and new disciplines? How? 11
  12. 12. Focal Study: keystone species Parent Discipline New Focal Discipline “Keystone Species” Concept Context Ecological ecosystem Business ecosystem General Actor Organism Firm Health Evaluation Metrics 1.Productivity, 2.Robustness, 3.Niche Creation 1.Firm ROI, 2.Surviving Firms 3.New firms/tech Borrowed from Ecology Specific Roles Food web hierarchical roles (predator, prey, etc.) Keystone, dominator, landlord, niche for Mgmt. Science Identification Metrics Biomass density/diversity, trophic position, Food web links Firm size & growth, Contracts and supply chain links Analysis Methodology Experimental removal, Network visualization Network visualization, (though mostly qualitative) 12
  13. 13. Focal Study: “Keystone Species” “keystone species” originated in ecology (Paine, 1966) “ecosystem” borrowed for business context (Moore, 1993) “keystone species” borrowed for business ecosystem strategy (Iansiti & Levien, 2004) ? 13 Graph Source: Google Ngrams Viewer, smoothing factor = 3, case insensitive
  14. 14. “Keystone Species”: Summary of Prevalence in the literature 197 17 keystone strategy “keystone species” Citations 21,600 “keystone effect” 983 “keystone strategy” keystone species 21,600 Search 197 “keystone species” and “keystone effect” 65 keystone effect 65 “keystone species and keystone effect” 17 983 Sources: Google Scholar and 國立交通大學(NCTU) Library e-database peer-reviewed citations 14
  15. 15. Data and Analysis
  16. 16. Text Analysis Corpus • 163 total journal articles involving “keystone species” • New Discipline: Mgmt. Science • Context: business ecosystem • 2004 – 2013 timeframe (n = 103) • Original Field: Ecology • Context: ecological ecosystem • 1965 – 2013 timeframe (n = 59) All analyses performed using RapidMiner 5. 16
  17. 17. Text Corpus Divisions by Time Periods Sample Citations per Period in Ecology Sample Citations per Period in Mgmt. Science 25 50 20 40 15 30 10 20 5 10 0 0 Early: 1966 1993 Middle: 1994 2001 Late: 2002 2013 Early: 2004 2007 Middle: 2008 2010 Late: 2011 2013 17
  18. 18. Text Analysis: Group and Period Simulated Probabilities via Naïve Bayes Classifier • Application of Bayes’ theorem • 𝑝 𝐺 𝑖 𝐹1 … 𝐹 𝑛 = 𝑝 𝐺 𝑖 ∙𝑝(𝐹1 …𝐹 𝑛 |𝐺 𝑖 ) 𝑝(𝐹1 …𝐹 𝑛 ) • Produces posterior probability (p) of group classification (𝐺 𝑖 ), given certain evidence (F1…Fn) • Strong independence assumptions • Articles analyzed for probability of indicator tokens by term frequencyinverse document frequency (TF-IDF) in sample corpus by • academic field • time period • Tokens := n-grams (words) of n=1,2,3 18
  19. 19. Results 19
  20. 20. Q1: Does application of the borrowed theory differ from original to new discipline? Mgmt. Science: More Qualitative “qualitative research” Mgmt. Science vs. Ecology Ecology: More Quantitative “quantify” Mgmt. Science vs. Ecology 20
  21. 21. Q1: Does application of the borrowed theory differ from original to new discipline? Mgmt. Science: More Exploratory “exploratory” Mgmt. Science vs. Ecology Ecology: More Causal “experiment” Mgmt. Science vs. Ecology 21
  22. 22. A1: Yes, application of the borrowed theory differs from original to new discipline. Most Frequent Word stems: Ecology Exploratory Causal √ √ Qualitative Quantitative Business √ √ 22
  23. 23. Q2: Does the research methodology of applying the borrowed theory change over time? Early Period: Exploratory “business ecosystem concept” Management Science Middle Period: Exploratory “business ecosystem development” Management Science 23
  24. 24. Q2: Does the research methodology of applying the borrowed theory change over time? Middle Period: Qualitative “qualitative analysis” Management Science Late Period: Quantitative “quantitative analysis” Management Science 24
  25. 25. Q2: Does the research methodology of applying the borrowed theory change over time? Late Period: Exploratory “exploratory research” Management Science Late Period: Exploratory & Causal “exploratory analysis” Management Science 25
  26. 26. A2: Yes, the research methodology of applying the borrowed theory changes over time. Mgmt. Science Exploratory Early Middle Late √ √ √ Causal Qualitative Quantitative √ √ √ √ √ 26
  27. 27. Q3: Does that change over time differ between the original and new disciplines? Early: Early: “business ecosystem concept” Management Science “data collection” Ecology 27
  28. 28. Q3: Does that change over time differ between the original and new disciplines? Middle: Middle: “qualitative analysis” Management Science “ experiment” Ecology 28
  29. 29. Q3: Does that change over time differ between the original and new disciplines? Late: Late: “data collection analysis” Management Science “ quantify” Ecology 29
  30. 30. A3: Yes, that change over time differs between the original and new disciplines. Mgmt. Science Exploratory Early Middle Late √ √ √ √ Causal Qualitative Quantitative √ √ Early Middle Exploratory √ √ Causal √ √ √ Qualitative √ √ Ecology Late √ Quantitative √ √ √ 30
  31. 31. Conclusions 31
  32. 32. Borrowed Theory in Parent vs. New Discipline Majority Classification by Discipline: Original: Ecology New: Mgmt. Science Methodology Progression over Time Standard: Exploratory  Confirmatory Stalled: Exploratory  Exploratory Certainty Ambiguity Causal Exploratory (Descriptive) Quantitative Qualitative Clarity of Phenomena Research Purpose Approach 32
  33. 33. Takeaways • Authors using borrowed theory (“keystone species”) described their own work as exploratory in relatively later periods and to greater extent than authors do in the originating field • Certainty and authoritativeness suffer from borrowed theory in later stages • Borrowed theories are ready-made, provide timeliness, cost benefit in the short run, but the benefit decreases faster than theories originated in the discipline • Except in the case of being the first one to borrow a theory with good cause, or applying a borrowed theory in a novel way, or when facing strict temporal/monetary constraints, then originating theory through research may allow more certainty and consistency applying the theory within original discipline.
  34. 34. Managerial Implications Given substantial research costs in time and resources: • large firms may benefit from propriety research originating theory (i.e., developing theories related to their specific business problem) • Small firms may find it more cost effective to apply insight from borrowed theory to arrive at faster, cheaper conclusion (i.e., essentially buying a copy of a research report instead of investing in propriety research).
  35. 35. References • Burgelman, R. a. (1991). Intraorganizational Ecology of Strategy Making and • Organizational Adaptation: Theory and Field Research. Organization Science, 2(3), 239–262. doi:10.1287/orsc.2.3.239 Murray, J., Evers, D., & Janda, S. (1995). Marketing, theory borrowing, and critical reflection. Journal of Macromarketing, (Fall), 92–106. Retrieved from • Floyd, S. W. (2009). “ Borrowing ” Theory : What Does This Mean and When Does It Make Sense in Management Scholarship? Journal of Management Studies, 46(6), 1057–1058. doi:0022-2380 • Paine, R. T. (1966). Food web complexity and species diversity. The American Naturalist, 100(910), 65–75. doi:10.1086/282400 • Hall, H. (2003). Borrowed theory. Library & Information Science Research, 25(3), 287–306. doi:10.1016/S0740-8188(03)00031-8 • Paine, R. T. (1969). The Pisaster-Tegula interaction: prey patches, predator food preference, and intertidal community structure. Ecology, 50(6), 950–961. doi:10.2307/1936888 • Iansiti, M., & Levien, R. (2004). Strategy as Ecology. Harvard Business • Review, 82(3), 68–78. Retrieved from 702&S=R&D=bth&EbscoContent=dGJyMNHr7ESep7E4zOX0OLCmr0meprN Sr6+4SreWxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGstEqurrNOuePfgeyx44Dt6fJJ Prabhakar, K. (2010). Borrowing Theory from other disciplines to Management. Retrieved November 12, 2013, from g-theory-from-other • Markóczy, L., & Deeds, D. L. (2009). Theory Building at the Intersection : Recipe for Impact or Road to Nowhere ? Journal of Management Studies, 46(6), 1076–1088. • Moore, J. (1993). Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition. Harvard Business Review, 71(3), 75–86. Retrieved from • Murray, J. B., & Evers, D. J. (1989). Theory Borrowing and Reflectivity in Interdisciplinary Fields. Advances in Consumer Research, 16, 647–652. • Whetten, D. a., Felin, T., & King, B. G. (2009). The Practice of Theory Borrowing in Organizational Studies: Current Issues and Future Directions. Journal of Management, 35(3), 537–563. doi:10.1177/0149206308330556 • Zahra, S. A., & Newey, L. R. (2009). Maximizing the Impact of Organization Science : Theory-Building at the Intersection of Disciplines and / or Fields. Journal of Management Studies, 46(6), 1059–1075. List of articles in text analysis sample corpus omitted for brevity; available upon request. 35