Identifies the significant role of conceptual research methods in theory building and contrasts it with the theory-testing research currently prevalent in operations management. The research stages of description, explanation and testing are used to distinguish between theory building and theory testing. Short-circuiting any one of these stages results in dysfunctional research activities which produce war stories, black boxes, or ivory-tower prescriptions. Defines some terms relevant to conceptual research methods and describes different conceptual classification schemes. Finally, discusses the differences between conceptual models, frameworks, and theories and illustrates each method with examples from the literature.
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