We are hindered in our ettorts to understand the Mishna and its relation to preceding traditions by our lack of evidence for exactly what Judah the Prince did with the earlier traditions and for what purpose. Albeck has claimed that he was writing a law code, others a textbook for study, others a suggestive summary of the law meant to lead the reader to other sources. See the outlines of theories in J. Neusner (ed.), Modern Study of the Mishnah.
Anthony J. Saldarini, “‘Form Criticism’ of Rabbinic Literature,” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 96, No. 2 (June 1977), 264, n. 26.