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Reducing Uncertainty in Scholarly Publishing: Concepts in the Field of Organization Studies, 1960-2008


  • Suleika Bort
  • Simone Schiller-Merkens


In this paper, we investigate the dynamics in the field of organization studies. We focus on the market for scholarly publishing and trace how many and which kinds of concepts have been developed and diffused in publications over the last 48 years. We argue that scholars in the publishing market must deal with two kinds of uncertainty: uncertainty on the delicate balance of maintaining research that is both novel and attentive to existing schools of thought, and uncertainty related to the heterogeneity of institutional logics that guide research in the field. We propose that concepts are a means of uncertainty reduction for two reasons. First, working with concepts allows considering both novelty and continuity. Second, working with concepts in a way that follows the dominant field logic helps to reduce uncertainty about what is valued as publishable in the field. We find that the number of concept articles in organization studies has increased, particularly concept articles that align with the dominant logic of positivism.

Suggested Citation

  • Suleika Bort & Simone Schiller-Merkens, 2011. "Reducing Uncertainty in Scholarly Publishing: Concepts in the Field of Organization Studies, 1960-2008," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 63(4), pages 337-360, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sbr:abstra:v:63:y:2011:i:4:p:337-360

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    Cited by:

    1. Daoud, Adel & Kohl, Sebastian, 2016. "How much do sociologists write about economic topics? Using big data to test some conventional views in economic sociology, 1890 to 2014," MPIfG Discussion Paper 16/7, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.

    More about this item


    Concept; Institutional Logic; Organization Studies; Positivism; Publish or Perish; Uncertainty;

    JEL classification:

    • N01 - Economic History - - General - - - Development of the Discipline: Historiographical; Sources and Methods
    • Y8 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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