The myth of “the” micro-macro divide: Bridging system-level and disciplinary divides

Janice C Molloy, R E Ployhart, P M Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (SciVal)


We clarify that management scholars do not have a shared conceptualization of what the terms micro and macro mean. Therefore, there is not one, but rather there are multiple micro—macro divides within management. Specifically, there are three micro—macro divides that separate scholarship at three levels of the social and economic systems that management scholars study. These system levels include individuals and groups, organizations, and the broader social and economic systems (which contain individuals and organizations—such as industries, labor markets, and societies). Scholarship at these three system levels is often based in different disciplines. For example, scholarship on individuals and groups is often based in psychology whereas scholarship regarding organizations and social and economic systems is often based in economics or sociology. Yet there are fundamental differences in the theoretical assumptions and methodological traditions underlying these disciplines. We call these differences disciplinary divides and argue that because disciplinary divides oftentimes coexist with system-level divides, scholars bridging system levels need to be cognizant of disciplinary divides. The purpose of this article is to help scholars bridge these divides. To this end, we first identify the nature and specific types of divides. We then present a content analysis of 300 articles as a snapshot of the extent to which bridging scholarship is conducted. Finally, we provide a road-map that details the specific intellectual steps required to bridge system-level and disciplinary divides and make one’s scholarship more accessible to scholars from other disciplines and management subdomains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-609
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number2
Early online date20 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


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