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The (Re?)Emergence of New Ideas in the Field of Organizational Studies

Chapter in book
Authors Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist
Published in The Production of Managerial Knowledge and Organizational Theory: New Approaches to Writing, Producing and Consuming Theory. Edited by Tammar B. Zilber, John M. Amis, Johanna Mair
Pages 123 - 139
ISBN 978-1-78769-184-1, eISBN: 978-1-78769-183-4
Publication year 2019
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Pages 123 - 139
Language en
Keywords Emergence of ideas, institutional theory, multiple discoveries, collegial work, academic networks, Zeitgeist
Subject categories Business Administration


The circumstances for the emergence of new ideas in organizational theory have previously been explored from several viewpoints. Researchers trace the origins of new ideas to previous literature or compare ideas across continents and countries. The author takes another point of departure. Following Merton (1957, 1963), she focuses on “multiple discoveries” in science, studying the independent, simultaneous (re-)discovery of certain aspects of institutional theory in organizational theory. Specifically, she follows the circumstances under which two pairs of researchers proffered similar explanations for the phenomena they encountered (Jönsson & Lundin, 1977; Meyer & Rowan, 1977). Without ever having met, they suggested an analogous way of understanding the concept of organizing, though their research used different frames of reference and field material and was published in different outlets. The author’s analysis of the circumstances surrounding the two papers led her to explore elements in the emergence of new ideas: the Zeitgeist – the spirit of the times – international networks, and collegial work. When these factors are in play, physical meetings do not seem to be required, but scholars must be involved in networks in which their colleagues provide judgment and advice.

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