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The Role of Time in

Theory Building
Jisan John(16827499)
Ganesh Prasath Anandan (16629420)
Jenna Balluck(15632951)

George, Jennifer M., and Gareth R. Jones. "The role of time in theory and theory building." Journal of Management 26, no.
4 (2000): 657-684.

Structure of the Presentation
1. Introduction
2. Factors of Theory
3. Time in Theory Building
4. Dimensions of Time
5. Theories related to time
6. Supporting Claims
7. Limitations
8. Critical Reviews
9. References

So, What is Time ?
The measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or
condition exists or continues (Webster 2014, accessed March 29,

Issues of time and temporality relate to modern organisational management
(Bluedorn and Denhardt 1988)

What about Theory ?
Theory is a collection of assertions both verbal and symbolic that identifies
what variables are important for what reasons, and specifies how they are
interrelated , why are they ? And identifies the conditions under which they
should be either related or not
Factors of Theory
A complete theory is compose of 4 factors i.e (Whetten 1989)
1) What Factors
2) How Factors
3) Why Factors
4) Who, Where and When Factors

Time in Theory building
Time (When) is considered as an important factor as it plays a critical role in
theory building and directly impacts the What, How , Who factors.

Inaccurate representation of time in theory building has resulted in
inconsistent descriptions there by triggering a plethora of debates .
6 Dimensions of Time

Image 1.1
Interdependence of factors
Each of the factors of theory do not give an individual meaning and must be
integrated and articulated to give a cogent meaning.

The What of Theory
Concerned with the creation and definition of constructs that are thought to
be unnecessary to adequately understand some phenomenon.
Theoretically many researchers treat many constructs in a static , a temporal
Most often when constructs are defined issues relating to time are ignored
The How of Theory
Specifies the nature of the relationships between constructs in a particular
theory and often their causal ordering. Relationships often unfold over time
and more often given implicit rather than explicit conditions.
The Why of Theory
Concerned with why constructs should be related to each other in the way
proposed causal relations are likely to exist.
What , How and Why Theories
Image 1.2
The role of time in theorizing

Three Components of theorizing process
1) Problem Statements
2) Thought Trials
3) Selection criteria
Time dimensions resolve controversies in
literature ?
Four ongoing controversies
1. State-Trait Controversy
2. Role of leadership
3. Participation in decision making
4. Effects of Job redesign
Supporting Claims
Time is one of the critical aspects in theory building as it serves as a metric
in measuring the cause and the true strength of relationships (Mitchell and
James 2001)

Temporal aspects should be considered explicitly while developing and
refining theory in organisational research (Sonnentag 2012)
Author has discussed the article from a narrow perspective of the
dimensions of time in theory building , but has not mentioned about other
critical aspects like quality of the completeness and thoroughness of the
theoretical work.
Critical Review : Accounting Profession
Accounting theory views an organisation as a continuous entity.

Flow of transactions occurs through time dimensions, known as accounting periods (fiscal/
financial year).

The inflows and outflows occur more or less continuously.

However, a static analysis of the accounting presentation of activity is required as
shareholders/ potential investors need to know where the organisation stands (Bray 2012)
Critical Review : Accounting Profession
Static Analysis of firm performance Annual Reports prepared.
Assuming discontinuity in time intervals of accounting periods (Bray 2012).
Not very realistic as time is continuous and not discrete.
Time Aggregation dimension does not show the right

Need to shorten time differences
Critical Review : Accounting Profession
Preparing short period operating accounts, for example, quarterly financial statements.
For management purpose only; not for shareholders

Allow to account for changes in inputs and outputs flows Change expectations for future
direction of firm. Reorientation of the organisations direction (Bray 2012).

Change is not immediately visible in published annual accounts (short term); but through
long term.
Critical Review: Information Technology
Information Technology can revolutionise peoples perception of time , its
measurement and the way time is organised (Lee and Whitley 2002)

Virtual reality has brought about a fundamental transformation in the
temporal aspects of work and organisations (Lee and Whitley 2002)

Critical Review: Information Technology
IT has changed the time frame patterns of decision making (Failla and
Bagnara 1992)
The transformation of time by Information Technology is global and generic
(Failla and Bagnara 1992)
Information technology can disorder the sequence of events and make them
simultaneous, and thereby time is dissolved (Failla and Bagnara 1992)

Critical Review:
Time has to be given a more holistic consideration due to the following aspects:
Neither objectivist or subjectivist conceptualisations of time address time as
a dimension of events (Bluedorn and Denhardt 1988)
Chronological conceptualisations of time limit our ability to understand the
deeper and more complex inter relationships between processes (Bluedorn
and Denhardt 1988)
Bluedorn, Allen C., and Robert B. Denhardt. "Time and organizations." Journal of management 14, no. 2 (1988): 299-320.
Bray, F. Sewell. 1996. The Formal Principal of Public Company Accounting. In Accounting Research, 1948-1958, edited by David Solomons and Stephen A. Zeff,
162 179. UK: Cambridge University Press.
Failla, Angelo, and Sebastiano Bagnara. "Information technology, decision, time." Social Science Information 31, no. 4 (1992): 669-681
George, 00): 657-684.
Lee, Heejin, and Edgar A. Whitley. "Time and information technology: Temporal impacts on in Jennifer M., and Gareth R. Jones. "The role of time in theory and
theory building." Journal of Management 26, no. 4 (20dividuals, organizations, and society." The Information Society 18, no. 4 (2002): 235-240.
Mitchell, Terence R., and Lawrence R. James. "Building better theory: Time and the specification of when things happen." Academy of Management Review 26,
no. 4 (2001): 530-547.
Peters, Linda D., Marcus Vanharanta, Andrew D. Pressey, and Wesley J. Johnston. "Taking time to understand theory." Industrial Marketing Management 41, no.
5 (2012): 730-738.
Sonnentag, Sabine. "Time in organizational research: Catching up on a long neglected topic in order to improve theory." Organizational Psychology Review 2,
no. 4 (2012): 361-368.
Whetten, David A. "What constitutes a theoretical contribution?." Academy of management review 14, no. 4 (1989): 490-495.