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Abstract

Review‐centric works receive increasing attention for generating insightful contributions to management and organization studies. Despite this, the literature on theory building has taken little note of their place in the theorizing process. This deserves attention, however, given the challenges reviews face in theorizing in the absence of new empirical observations. Accordingly, these works run the risk of merely summarizing ‘what we have already seen’, instead of ‘maximizing what we see’. Drawing on the strategies of theorizing from similarities and theorizing from anomalies, we propose dialectical interrogation as a critical step in theorizing through which review scholars imaginatively engage in a back and forth inquiry between the phenomenal world of a given field and existing theory. By analysing selected review studies from top management journals, we reveal that theorizing outcomes occur through two ways of dialectical interrogation (consolidative and disruptive). We contribute by demonstrating that review scholars can enter into powerful theorizing through the consolidative or disruptive interrogation of the review data with extant theory to detect emergence and novelty alongside puzzles, conflicts and paradoxes. Dialectical interrogation can address the shortcomings of current theorizing in review‐centric works and bears potential for advancing theories of management and organization studies.