中端理论是由罗伯特·k·默顿（Robert K. Merton）开发的，是一种以理论与经验研究相结合的社会学理论研究方法。它是目前社会学理论建模的主流方法，尤其是在美国。中端理论先从某一个经验现象开始（相对于一个宽泛的抽象实体，如社会系统），并从中抽象出来以创建可以通过数据验证的一般性陈述。这种方法与社会理论的早期“宏大”理论形成了鲜明的对比，如功能主义和许多冲突理论。
A Mid-Range Theoretical Framework for Logistics Customer Service
Writer: Diane Mollenkopf, University of Tennessee
Ted Stank, University of Tennessee
Dan Pellathy, Grand Valley State University
Joonhwan In, California State University - Long Beach
Logistics customer service (LCS) stands as one of the central themes in supply chain management, with a substantial body of literature supporting its impact on business performance (Leuschner et al., 2013). Yet research on this important topic is in no way exhausted. Amazon’s disruptive move into logistics services, which has generated billions in returns, is just one recent examine of how dynamic the LCS space remains (Schreiber, 2016). Indeed, understanding the specifics of how and why LCS works, and under what circumstances desired outcomes are likely to occur, is increasingly important for success in today’s complex supply chain environment (Cassidy, 2017).
Generating this type of knowledge requires a new approach to LCS research that moves beyond generalizable associations between variables to focus on specific contexts and mechanisms that drive results. Middle-range research offers such an approach (Merton, 1967). Middle-range research builds on established relationships within a field of knowledge to derive and test propositions on why, how, and when particular outcomes occur. It is therefore well-suited to generating the kind of granular insights organizations need to guide decision-making (Stank et al., 2017). The purpose of this research is to first consolidate what we already know about LCS’s established antecedents and outcomes and then propose a research agenda that would systematically extend this knowledge through rigorous middle-range theorizing and research.
About Middle-range theory. Middle-range theory, developed by Robert K. Merton, is an approach to sociological theorizing aimed at integrating theory and empirical research. It is currently the de-facto dominant approach to sociological theory construction, especially in the United States. Middle-range theory starts with an empirical phenomenon (as opposed to a broad abstract entity like the social system) and abstracts from it to create general statements that can be verified by data. This approach stands in contrast to the earlier "grand" theorizing of social theory, such as functionalism and many conflict theories.