WORKSHOP – WHAT IS THEORY?

The application is closed. We will announce via the newsletter if/when a new opportunity is given.


Welcome to the workshop ”What is Theory?” with Hervé Corvellec.

Date: November 17, 2021
Time:  9.00-12.00
Format: Online

Hervé Corvellec, Professor in Business Administration, Department of Service Management and Service Studies, Lund University.

The workshop is open for all FEKIS members, but if fully booked, PhD student and Post Docs will be prioritized.

Sign up via the form further down the page.


The What is theory? question

There can be a wealth of possible answers to the question what theory is[1], but it is not that theory can be anything and anything can be theory. There is a fundamental difference between anything and many things, and a purpose of the workshop is to help participants to distinguish between many and any views of theory.

The What is theory? workshop

First, as a participant to the workshop, you present a very short presentation of an example of theory. It can be a theory that you use in their PhD project or not, within or outside the academic of social work: Explain in a few sentences the basic tenets and claims of the theory, provide 1-2 key names, and explain why you they think that this a theory. The answers of all participants will lay ground for what will be the class’s performative theory of theory[2]. (09:15-10:00)

Second, we reflect on this definition, answering to questions such as: Is this a good definition of theory? Anything missing? Anything unnecessary? Is it precise enough to decide what is not a theory? A Ph.D. is supposed to make a theoretical contribution; is this definition helpful to understand what this means? (10:15-10:45)

Third, I contrast the collective and individual answers provided in the class with the answers provided by the contributors to the What is theory? book (see not 1). More than an epistemological lecture, the purpose here is to provide an entry into the richness of academic practice with theory. (10:45-11:10)

Finally, in the time left, we discuss how you use or plan to use theory in your research, and with which consequences. (11:20-12:00)

E-see you,

Hervé Corvellec


[1] See: Corvellec Hervé (Ed); What is theory? Answers from the social and cultural sciences, Liber 2013

[2] About performative definitions see: Latour Bruno. (1986) The Power of association. In: Law J (ed) Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? London: Routledge, 264-280


Rekommenderad litteratur:

Corvellec, Hervé. 2013. ”Why ask what theory is?” In What is theory? Answers from the social and cultural sciences, edited by Hervé Corvellec, 9-24. Stockholm (Sweden) and Copenhagen (Denmark): Liber and Copenhagen Business School Press. https://www.smakprov.se/smakprov/?l=liber&isbn=9789147097364

Sandberg, Jörgen, and Mats Alvesson. 2021. ”Meanings of Theory: Clarifying Theory through Typification.”  Journal of Management Studies 58 (2):487-516. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/joms.12587.