Theoretical Literature Review: Tracing the Life Cycle of a Theory and Its Verified and Falsified Statements

John R. Turner, Rose Baker, Frank Kellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) has proven to be a source of knowledge providing research in the forms of theory development, literature reviews, educational and descriptive analyses, critical analyses, and empirical research studies. Given this vast body of knowledge, there has not been a call for researchers to provide a literature review format for tracing the life cycles of individual theories, differentiating between formal and informal theories within human resource development’s (HRD) body of knowledge. The current article proposes a format for conducting a theoretical literature review, using path-goal leadership theory and the learning organization as two examples to showcase the benefits of using a theoretical literature review. Incorporating theoretical literature reviews to some of the AHRD’s journals could help in identifying and mapping the field’s formal and informal theories while aiding in providing additional historical reviews for the discipline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-61
Number of pages28
JournalHuman Resource Development Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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