Low Heed in Organization Theory

  • William McKinley Southern Illinois University
  • Matthew S. Wood University of North Carolina
  • Gyewan Moon Kyungpook National University
Keywords: organization theory; heedful interrelating; knowledge production; metaphors


This essay borrows the construct of “heedful interrelating” from Weick and Roberts’s (1993) study of aircraft carrier flight decks, and uses the construct to analyze the social processes that structure contemporary scholarship in organization theory. We argue that organization theory often operates as a lowheed discipline, in which scholars take minimal heed of the contributions of their fellows. This condition of low heed is revealed in several specific aspects of the discipline: lack of attention to testing previously published theories, lack of emphasis on replication of published empirical research, low standardization of construct definition and measurement, and a minimally developed division of labor between theorists and empirical researchers. We explore the causes of this low-heed state in contemporary organization theory, and we also enumerate some advantages of low heed in the discipline. We devote attention to the effects of low heed on the training of newcomers to the field, and we argue that doctoral education in organization theory is both an effect and a cause of low heed. Finally, we offer some suggestions for incorporating more scholarly heed into organization theory without destroying the major advantage of a lowheed discipline – freedom of inquiry. We also indicate how a cautious increase of heedful interrelating in organization theory might improve the perceived relevance of its research results for management practice.


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How to Cite
McKinley, W., Wood, M. S., & Moon, G. (2019). Low Heed in Organization Theory. M@n@gement, 14(3), 153-181. Retrieved from https://management-aims.com/index.php/mgmt/article/view/4054
Original Research Articles