Henry Mintzberg: Developing theory about the development of theory

I have no clue how I develop theory. I don’t think about it; I just try to do it. Indeed, thinking about it could be dangerous: The centipede was happy quite Until a toad in fun Said, “Pray, which leg goes after which?” That worked her mind to such a pitch, She lay distracted in a ditch Considering how to run. (Mrs. Edward Craster, 1871) I have no desire to lay distracted in a ditch considering how to develop theory. Besides, that’s the work of cognitive psychologists, who study concept attainment, pattern recognition, and the like, but never really tell us much about how we think. Nonetheless, I’ll take the bait, this once, at the request of the editors of this book, because I probably won’t get far either. I want to start with what theory isn’t and then go on to what theory development isn’t, for me at least, before turning, very tentatively, to what they seem to be.


By Henry Mintzberg