> Skip to content
  • Published: 1 January 2018
  • ISBN: 9781609947132
  • Imprint: Berrett-Koehler
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $69.99

Theory Building In Applied Disciplines



Theory matters in applied disciplines—fields that apply scholarly research to professional practice, such as management, social work, health care, human resource development, education, and many others. Because these disciplines deal with human beings in the real world, a flawed theory can result in actual harm to people and institutions.

When faced with a professional problem, practitioners resort to the latest fad or simply throw everything and anything at it because of the lack of sound theory. Scholars deal with problems by slicing them into small segments to study them but fail to address the practical implications. What’s needed is a way to unite research and practice to create robust theory.

This is exactly what Richard Swanson and Thomas Chermack offer here: a complete, five-step method for developing sound, field-tested theory in applied disciplines. Unlike many existing methods, which cover only the initial conceptualization of a theory, the authors offer a complete approach, from conceptualizing a theory to creating relevant assessment criteria, establishing a research agenda to test the theory’s validity, applying the theoretical concepts in the real world, and using that experience to further refine and improve the theory. The method is not restricted to any single discipline, nor is it beholden to any research ideology.

Swanson and Chermack provide a set of tools for each phase of the process, making this book accessible and applicable to a wide audience. And in addition to examples in each chapter, they offer two extended case examples of complete theory building. With flawed theories impeding the development of many applied disciplines, this book is desperately needed.

  • Published: 1 January 2018
  • ISBN: 9781609947132
  • Imprint: Berrett-Koehler
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $69.99

Praise for Theory Building In Applied Disciplines

“Swanson and Chermack argue that applied disciplines falter when either theory or practice dominates. The method of theory building in applied disciplines presented and detailed in this book is simple yet powerful.” —Wayne F. Cascio, Robert H. Reynolds Chair in Global Leadership and Professor of Management, Business School, University of Colorado Denver Theory Building in Applied Disciplines is a long-overdue book. Swanson and Chermack have made a truly significant contribution to the development of practice-based theories that will enrich applied disciplines.” —Marshall Scott Poole, Professor of Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign “This book practices what it preaches by meshing theory and practice in an accessible and rigorous way. Scholars and graduate students will benefit from the advice and examples provided.” —Kevin Dooley, Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management, Arizona State University  “This is a welcome addition to the growing conversation on the role of theory and theory development in applied disciplines.” —David Whetten, Jack Wheatley Professor of Organizational Studies, Brigham Young University “Swanson and Chermack’s excellent presentation and expansion of the phases of theory building in applied disciplines represents a significant contribution to the scholarly literature.” —Pedro Reyes, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, The University of Texas System

Related titles