When do theories become self-fulfilling? Exploring the boundary conditions of performativity

Emilio Marti, J-P Gond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Management researchers increasingly realize that some theories do not merely describe but also shape social reality—a phenomenon known as “performativity.” However, when theories become performative or even self-fulfilling is still poorly understood. Taking this gap in current research as our starting point, we develop a process model to show that new theories will only become self-fulfilling if (1) they motivate experimentation, (2) experimentation produces anomalies, and (3) these anomalies lead to a practice shift. On that basis we identify six boundary conditions that determine whether theories will come to shape social reality. To illustrate our argument, we explore the conditions under which theories that postulate a positive link between corporate social performance and corporate financial performance may become self-fulfilling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-508
Number of pages22
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2018


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