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date: 15 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter makes a case for public organization theory. It begins by tracing the rise of theory development as the central focus in organization studies. Problems with an overriding focus on theory development are pointed out. These include being irrelevant, neglecting empirical issues, adopting a baroque style, amoralism, and a profusion of uninteresting questions. To address these problems, I suggest scholarship focused on theory development might be supplemented by public organization theory. This approach entails: (1) engaging with substantive questions, (2) which have a clear organizational dimension and are of public concern, (3) with a sceptical attitude, (4) which is grounded in contextual detail, and (5) with the aim of addressing a broader public. The chapter concludes by giving some example of how these strategies have been used in existing studies of organizations.

Keywords: theory development, public sociology, engaged scholarship, critical theory, amoralism

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