Professor of Sociology
Cornell University (USA)
The evolving article: change in the structure of communications in organizational studies, Administrative Science Quarterly 1956-2008
10 May 10 2012
David Strang is professor of sociology at Cornell University. His research focuses on the diffusion of innovations in the business and political worlds. He is author of Learning by Example: Imitation and Innovation at a Global Bank (Princeton University Press, 2010) and articles in Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, International Organization, Organizational Studies, Sociological Methodology, Theory and Society, and elsewhere. Current projects examine managerial hiring and firing, computational models of innovation adoption and abandonment, and the evolution of the “article” in organizational studies. David Strang received a Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University in 1988.
At ABRI, Professor Strang will present his work on how the structure of scholarly research on organizations changed from 1956 to the present. This paper examines shifts over time in social scientific communications in the field of organizational studies, drawing on a sample of 350 pieces published in the Administrative Science Quarterly. Over the 1956 to 2008 period, articles expand along almost all dimensions: word count, title length, bibliography, and numbers of tables and figures. Structurally, the dominant format of the journal’s first decade – the essay – is replaced by the scientific report with its four-partite division into theory, methods, findings, and discussion. The relative size of these four components itself changes over time, primarily through growth of the theoretical sections and contraction of the results section. Mechanisms that might lead contemporary social science to be increasingly theory-heavy are considered, including the peer review process, shifts in research design, and patterns of citation across articles that make different kinds of contributions.