This page is older archived content from an older version of the Emerald Publishing website.

As such, it may not display exactly as originally intended.

Special issue on "Management theory and practices: criticism and debate"

Special issue call for papers from Management Decision

Guest Editors: Dr. Domingo Ribeiro Soriano, University of Valencia Spain and Dra. Marta Peris-Ortiz, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain

The topic of this special issue is the analysis of management theory and practices. Each management theory is a lens that allows us to interpret one or other mode of management, to identify a particular set of problems and to seek a variety of solutions to those problems. Hence, the importance of a critical review of those theories and the analysis of the resulting practices from each of them. Management practices in different economic sectors and in varying types businesses depend on the theories that are applied either explicitly or implicitly.

Schools of thought, either from sociology or economy, that make up the field of management, particularly the theories or approaches that gained acceptance during the second half of the 20th century and the first few years of the 21st, have undergone both the consolidation and application of their most relevant contributions and the criticism of some of the aspects of their implications or even their fundamental proposals. In this respect, the existence of discrepancies of:

  • A metatheoretical nature that are not explicit in the theory might be suggested (determinism vs. enactment)
  • Basic disagreement on behavioural theory (opportunism vs. trust)
  • Different ontological arguments (transaction as opposed to technology)
  • Different methodologies (anthropological or ethnographical as opposed to positive or functionalist)
  • Different theoretical frameworks (sociology vs. the economy of organizations)
  • Different schools of thought within each theoretical framework (contingency vs. population ecology or transaction vs. agency)
  • Important differences in methodology and concepts when we compare approaches from different theoretical areas (communities of practice vs. the agency theory)

All of which leads to an essential attempt to criticize and refine current theories, which will, in turn, have repercussions for management practice and for levels of effectiveness and efficiency in organizations. The more consolidated and recent developments and modifications and the appearance of new theory in management practices are the result of the incomplete nature of existing theories and of their limitations in explaining real phenomena, as well as being the consequence of technical and social changes brought about by human activity and the intellectual capacity for applying new interpretations and developments. In this sense, this special issue provides authors with the chance to criticize, to analyze ontological and/or methodological differences between the various theories, share criticism aimed at defining and refining these theories, contributions that propose a mixture of different schools of thought or criticism related to discrepancies between theory and practice.

The way in which more recent approaches are interwoven with previous theories and practices shows how the need to understand reality and establish efficient practices leads to continuity between a critical review of existing theory and the construction of new approaches and groundbreaking practices.

Although the list is not exhaustive, the authors-topics for contributions within this framework include comment and criticism about:

  • Oliver E. Williamson, as the author of the modern theory of transaction costs.
  • Michael C. Jensen, as the most renowned author of the agency theory applied to organizations.
  • Sydney G. Winter, as the most representative author of the theory of organizational routines, which in his most recent contributions he relates to capabilities, knowledge and dynamic capabilities.
  • Lex Donaldson, as the most prestigious contributor to structural contingent theory, within which he still champions the determinist vision of this theory. 
  • Karl E. Weick, as the fundamental author on the theory of cognitive management, which led to the study of practice communities. 
  • Michael T. Hannan, as one of the main authorities on the ecology of populations. Critics of this theory should consider the contributions, debates and criticisms that have already surrounded this theory at different times.
  • Jeffrey Pfeffer, as the main author of the theory of resource dependence: one of the richest theories from within the social model of behaviour.
  • Michael Porter, as the best known author on the theory of the formulation of strategy and a principal author in the strategic field. 
  • Gerry Johnson, as the main representative of the activity based view. 
  • Henry Mintzberg, as the main representative of the configurational strategic approach, and/or business policies related to strategy.
  • Jay B. Barney, as one of the most important contributors to the theory of resources and capabilities.
  • Mark A. Huselid, as a renowned author in the field of human resource management.
  • Ikujiro Nonaka, as one of the most important authors on knowledge management and innovation. One of the biggest criticisms aimed at this approach lies in its ontological distinction between tacit and explicit knowledge.
  • Nick Bontis, as one of the main exponents of the intellectual capital approach within the framework of knowledge management.
  • Haridimos Tsoukas, in the business policies related to knowledge management.

We are also open to interesting and imaginative ideas that do not fit neatly within any of the above topics but that do fit within the spirit and intent of this call for papers.


The goal of this special issue is to offer the opportunity for criticism and debate on the spectrum of management theories with the aim of refining current theories and thus improving management practices and organizational efficiency. To achieve this objective, we encourage different researchers to carry out a critical review of some of the theories that appear in the topics described above, among other notions. These critiques, in their most constructive form, may refer to as yet unexploited developments and possibilities concerning the thoughts of a particular author and their theories. To be considered for publication in this special issue, manuscripts must be received by July 1, 2010. Papers submitted will be subject to a minimum double-blind peer review process to ensure that this special issue maintains the excellent reputation and record of Management Decision.  The journal website is located at: Please read through the author guidelines on this site before submitting your paper. Submissions to Management Decision are made using ScholarOne's Manuscript Central, full instructions are on the author guidelines site. As a guide, articles should be between 3,000 and 6,000 words in length. A title of not more than twelve words should be provided.

Queries should be submitted directly to the Guest Editors, Domingo Ribeiro Soriano ([email protected]) and Marta Peris-Ortiz ([email protected]).