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Writing the Theory Section

The primary purpose of the “theory section” of an empirical paper is to build confidence in the hypotheses advanced in the paper. A secondary purpose is to show its contribution by positioning the paper in a conversation in the literature. Papers aim to make different types of contributions ranging from generating insights about practical issues at the phenomenon level to developing new theory. In this session, we will discuss differences in how a theory section may be structured to support different types of contributions. We will also discuss some common traps in developing theory sections and how to avoid them.