Having One’s Cake and Eating it Too

Middle Range Content and Generalized Process as Ways of Understanding Organization
  • Peter J. Frost
  • David C. Hayes


Debate on the relative usefulness of general theory versus middle range theories of organization has taken place in recent years (e.g. Melcher, 1975; Pinder and Moore, 1977, Weick, 1974). The intent of this paper is to argue for a dual approach to studying and understanding organization, involving the development of partial, middle range theories to describe and explain the content of organization, and the development of general theory to capture the essence of the process of organizing. We use the concept of middle range in this paper to refer to discrete, confirmed theory that “… applies to limited ranges of data, consolidates segregated hypotheses and is itself available for consolidation with other theories” (Weick, 1974, p. 357). By general theory we mean that the elements of such a theory (the constructs and relationships between them) are not bound by particular settings, but represent a deductive approach based on phenomena that are assumed to be universal in application.


Organization Design Social Exchange Theory Administrative Office Sales Representative Organizational Experience 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishing 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter J. Frost
    • 1
  • David C. Hayes
    • 1
  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaCanada

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