Theme: theory and writing


Welcome and introduction of the day by Annette Risberg, the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.


On Theory

What is theory? Workshop on theory with Hervé Corvellec, Lund University.


The What is theory? question

There can be a wealth of possible answers to the question what theory is[1] [2], but it is not that theory can be anything and anything can be theory. There is a fundamental difference between anything and many things, and a purpose of the workshop is to help participants to distinguish between many and any views of theory.

The What is theory? workshop

First, as a participant to the workshop, you present a very short presentation of an example of theory. It can be a theory that you use in your PhD project or not. Explain in a few sentences the basic tenets and claims of the theory, provide 1-2 key names, and explain why you think this is a theory. The answers of all participants will lay ground for what will be the class’s performative theory of theory[3]. (09:15-10:00)

Second, we reflect on this definition, answering to questions such as: Is this a good definition of theory? Anything missing? Anything unnecessary? Is it precise enough to decide what is not a theory? A Ph.D. is required to make a theoretical contribution; is this definition helpful to understand what this requirement means? (10:15-10:45)

Third, I contrast the collective and individual answers provided in the class with the answers provided by the contributors to the What is theory? book (see note 1). More than an epistemological lecture, the purpose here is to provide an entry into the richness of academic practice with theory. (10:45-11:10)

Finally, in the time left, we discuss how you use or plan to use theory in your research, and with which consequences. (11:20-12:00)

See you!

Hervé CorvellecLund University

[1] See: Corvellec Hervé (Ed); What is theory? Answers from the social and cultural sciences, Liber 2013[2] See: Sandberg, Jörgen, and Mats Alvesson. 2021. «Meanings of Theory: Clarifying Theory through Typification.» Journal of Management Studies 58

(2):487-516. doi:

[3] About performative definitions see: Latour Bruno. (1986) The Power of association. In: Law J(ed) Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? London:Routledge, 264-280




Performative theorizing, Interactive lecture with Oliver Laasch, Manchester University.


Performativity describes theories whose truthfulness and success lies not in accurately representing current realities. Instead, performative truth depends on theories’ success in shaping future realities. Such success in turn centrally depends on us as academics. Academic work is inescapably performative, as teaching, generating, and disseminating theory is our daily bread. Therefore, if we want it or not, we engage in performative practice that shapes future realities- to the better or worse. This keynote’s main purpose is to help us acknowledge our performative nature and to start owning it!




On Writing

Beyond linear writing – finding your personal way of writing. Monika Kostera, Jagiellonian University in Kraków.




Writing academic articles – reflections from the editor’s side. Annette Risberg, the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.


Reflections and discussion on the participants’ own writing and theorizing in their PhD projects.


End of programme