• theory building;
  • theory;
  • supply chain management

In recent years, the field of supply chain management has placed increasing emphasis on using theories to describe, explain and predict relationships among important concepts. One source of theory within this work has been the organizational sciences — an allied set of fields including management, strategic management, organizational behavior and organization theory whose overarching goal is to identify ways to improve the functioning of organizations. Several powerful tools for guiding the theory building process — and for evaluating others' theory building efforts — have been developed within the organizational sciences, but have not yet found widespread application within the field of supply chain management. Our goal is to describe several of these tools and to explain how the tools can be used to enhance theory building within supply chain management.