Theory and Practice in the Real World

Karl E. Weick

in The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199275250
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

 Theory and Practice in the Real World

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  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour


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Theory and practice are qualitatively different. This article first examines the terminology used in discussions of theory-practice and discovers that the word ‘understanding’ is a major source of trouble. It then reviews eight different ways in which people have tried to reconcile theory and practice. It is then argued that theory and practice can be partly reconciled if living forward is differentiated into ready-to-hand living and unready-to-hand living, a distinction first proposed by Heidegger. If theorists and practitioners alike focus on the interruptions of unready-to-hand, then the theorist is forced to sense more of the world as it is experienced by the practitioner and the practitioner is forced to detach from the flow of events, objectify portions of what normally is a flow, and adopt a mindset toward barriers similar to that of the theorist. Finally, this article concludes with an example of unready-to-hand theorizing.

Keywords: theory; practice; understanding; practitioner; ready-to-hand living; unready-to-hand living

Article.  9715 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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