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How do theories become self-fulfilling? Clarifying the process of Barnesian performativity

Marti, E. & Gond, J-P. ORCID: 0000-0002-9331-6957 (2019). How do theories become self-fulfilling? Clarifying the process of Barnesian performativity. Academy of Management Review, 44(3), pp. 686-694. doi: 10.5465/amr.2019.0024


To explore when theories become self-fulfilling in our original paper (Marti & Gond, 2018), we first had to develop a process model of how theories become self-fulfilling. We argued that this process involves three steps: (1) new theories lead to experimentation, (2) experimentation produces anomalies, and (3) anomalies convince initially unconvinced actors to shift their practices. Our critics (i.e., D’Adderio, Glaser, & Pollock, 2019; Garud & Gehman, 2019; Shadnam, 2019) raise important issues about our process model, which is why we use this response to clarify our argument about the process of Barnesian performativity. In Section 1, we lay the groundwork for our response by explaining why Barnesian performativity is relevant to organization and management theory. In Section 2, we show that our model is in line with important insights from our critics: we show why self-fulfilling theories can be part of an “ongoing journey” (Garud & Gehman, 2019: 1), how anomalies can lead to new theories (D’Adderio et al., 2019), and why our model matters for folk theories (D’Adderio et al., 2019). In Section 3, we reflect on our process model from a philosophy of science perspective by discussing the role that “reality” plays in each step of our process model. We thereby address concerns that our process model is “positivist” (Shadnam, 2019: 1), “representational” (Garud & Gehman, 2019: 3), and “essentialist” (D’Adderio et al., 2019: 3).

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Published by Academy of Management.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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