Camp Riverside – PhD Workshop in Theory Construction and Research Development

Professor Ajay Kohli (Photo: Eisa Tabrizi)
Professor Ajay Kohli (Photo: Eisa Tabrizi)

Camp Riverside: June 13-16, 2022

The workshop is an annual event for PhD students and faculty in Marketing at USN and other Norwegian programs (e.g., BI, NHH). The workshop is chaired by professor Ajay Kohli (Georgia Tech) and professor Fred Selnes (BI and USN) and takes place on campus Drammen. 

The goal of the workshop is to develop student skills and stimulate collaboration among students and faculty, and cultivate world-class scholars in Marketing and other business disciplines. The first two days are devoted to understanding and engaging in theory construction (see the enclosed material at the bottom of this page). The next two days are devoted to students presenting their research (including but not limited to thesis work) and getting constructive suggestions from faculty and fellow students.

Program 

Day 1: Monday

Time Program/Presentation
09:00 - 12:00 Theory construction, part 1, Professor Ajay Kohli
12:00 - 13:00 Lunch
13:00 - 16:30 Theory construction, parts 1 and 2, Professor Ajay Kohli

 

Day 2: Tuesday

Time Program/Presentation
09:00 - 12:00 Theory construction, part 2 cont'd, Professor Ajay Kohli
12:00 - 13:00 Lunch
13:00 - 15:00 Theory construction, part 2 cont'd, Professor Ajay Kohli
  Short break
15:15 - 16:30 Crafting a paper, Professor Ajay Kohli

 

Day 3: Wednesday

Time Program/Presentation
09:00 - 12:00 Student presentations, incl. short break
12:00 - 13:00 Lunch
13:00 - 16:00 Student presentations, incl. short break
16:00 - 16:15 Short Break                                                                               
16:15 - 17:00 Keynote speaker (to be announced)
19:00 Dinner


Day 4: Thursday

Time Program/Presentation
09:00 - 12:00 Student presentations, incl. short break
12:00 - 13:00 Lunch
13:00 - 15:00 Student presentations, incl. short break
15:00 Summing up Camp Riverside 2022 Professor Fred Selnes

Student presentations: Approx. 15 minutes presentation each (max 10 slides) + 15 minutes discussion.

Theory Construction Workshop (enclosed material)

Theory construction workshop

Ajay K. Kohli

Gary T. and Elizabeth R. Jones Chair
Georgia Institute of Technology

The purpose of this workshop is to help participants understand the nature of a theory, the theory construction process, and to develop skills in building interesting and impactful new marketing theory. The focus of the workshop is on nuts and bolts of building new theory (and not on philosophy of science).

The workshop will discuss theory as comprised of three core components. It will bring into sharp focus three general structures of arguments that can be used to support different types of theoretical propositions (main effects, interaction effects, and non-linear effects). It will identify characteristics of impactful theories, map the process of constructing theories, and provide guidelines for constructing impactful theories.

A key component of the workshop will be a hands-on exercise where participants will engage in the theory construction process during the session to better appreciate the nature of theory construction, the difficulties involved, and ways of addressing the difficulties successfully.

The workshop is divided in two parts:

PART 1

Part 1 is an interactive lecture-discussion covering the following topics/questions:

  1. What is the purpose of a theory?
  2. What is a theory, and what are its key components?
  3. How one can develop persuasive arguments for supporting different types of theoretical propositions (i.e., what are the general structures of arguments for supporting different types of theoretical propositions)?
  4. What are the different forms of theoretical contributions scholars can make?
  5. What is the difference between theory construction and theory application?
  6. What are the characteristics of theories that are more impactful (i.e., used more) than others?
  7. How does the theory construction process work? What can scholars do during the theory construction process to develop more impactful theories?
  8. What are some common weaknesses in “theory” manuscripts? Why do they arise and how can one safeguard against them?

PART 2

Part 2 involves reviewing participants’ theoretical propositions and arguments, and collectively working to improve a select set. The goal is to learn by doing. Please bring the following to the workshop:

  1. A written proposition about a main effect of X on Y (one succinct sentence) and a written argument to justify/support the proposition.  X and Y can be any variables of your choice.  (Make the argument as short as possible – one sentence is ideal.)
  2. A written proposition about a moderating effect of Z on the relationship between X and Y (one succinct sentence) and a written argument to justify/support the proposition. You can use any variables you wish. (Make the argument as short as possible – one sentence is ideal.)
  3. A written proposition about a non-linear (e.g., inverted U-shaped) relationship between X and Y (one sentence) and a written argument to justify/support the proposition. You can use any variables you wish. (Make the argument as short as possible – two sentences are ideal.)
  4. A dilemma or question you have with regard to theory or its construction. We will try to discuss some dilemmas/questions during the workshop.

READINGS

It is not necessary to do any reading prior to the workshop. However, time permitting, reading the following may help participants get more value out of the workshop:

  • “Causality” – Zaltman, LeMasters and Heffring, Chapter 3
  • Sutton, Robert I. and Barry M. Staw (1995), “What theory is Not,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 371-384.  
  • Weick, Karl E. (1995), “What Theory is Not, Theorizing Is,” Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 385-390.
  • “Deductive and Inductive Thinking” – Zaltman, LeMasters and Heffring Chapter 5.
  • Weick, Karl E. (1989), “Theory Construction as Disciplined Imagination,” Academy of Management Review, 14 (4) 516-531.
  • “Being Interesting,” – Zaltman, LeMasters, and Heffring, Chapter 2.
  • Kohli, Ajay K. (2011), “From the Editor: Reflections on the Review Process,” Journal of Marketing, 75 (November), 1-4.

(Zaltman, Gerald, Karen LeMasters and Michael Heffring (1982), Theory Construction in Marketing: Some Thoughts on Thinking.  New York, NY: John Wiley & So
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