Maximizing the Impact of Organization Science: Theory-Building at the Intersection of Disciplines and/or Fields


Shaker A. Zahra, Department of Strategic Management and Organization and Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, 321 19th Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA (


The intersection of academic disciplines and fields provides an important forum for creative theory building. In this article, we identify three modes of theory building at the intersection and highlight their strengths and weaknesses. We position these three modes relative to one another using the ‘impact wheel’, which visually describes their influence on five domains: theory, field, discipline, researchers, and external stakeholders. Though impact on these domains varies across the three modes, maximum impact is created when theory building at the intersection uncovers new phenomena that revise the boundaries of existing disciplines and fields while giving birth to new ones. Such theorizing is infrequent and demands particular skills on the part of researchers to help organization science to realize more of its potential.