yes, your "typology" sounds familiar to me too. My original background is in economics/business studies. I mention this because the disciplinary "upbringing" might be helpful to understand why I argue the way I do:
A conceptual article provides a framework/concept that helps to organize diverse/scattered empirical phenomena. It is based on empirical insights. But the empirical foundation is more anecdotal and implicit than systematic. Traditionally, articles used in practitioner oriented exceutive trainings are of a conceptual nature (Harvard Business Review, e.g. Kotler's stages of change management). The St.Gallen Management Model that is widely referred to in the German speaking world is basically conceptual lacking any systematic empirical foundation. Yet, practitioners refer to it as a "scientific explanation" that allows for "scientific recommendations". Skimming through the reflections of the "Great Minds in Management" it seem that conceptual papers have also often been used to sketch out ideas that have later been thoroughly elaborated.
A theoretical article develops theoretical propositions that spot gaps in existing theories. Accordingy, a theoretical article very much resonates with the idea of scientific progress and science as a domain of expanding knowledge etc. The strength of a theoretical article is its theoretical rigour, coherence etc. whereas the empirical part might be less nuanced, rich or systematic etc.
An empirical article emphasizes the generation/collection of data and its analysis.
This is how I see it. Here are some references that I find useful in this context.
Aldrich, H. (1988). Paradigm Warriors: Donaldson versus the Critics of Organization Theory. Organization Studies, 9(1), 19–25.
Corley, K. G., & Gioia, D. A. (2011). Building Theory about Theory Building: What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution? Academy of Management Review, 36(1), 12–32. http://doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2011.55662499 http://doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2011.5566249
Smith, K. G., & Hitt, M. A. (Eds.). (2005). Great Minds in Management: The Process of Theory Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dr. oec. HSG Claus Noppeney
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