Problems do not exist in nature but in the minds of people. This can be seen from an examination of the definition of problem: problems stem from the juxtaposition of factors which results in a perplexing or enigmatic state of mind (a cognitive problem), an undesirable consequence (a psychological or value problem), or a conflict which obscures the appropriate course of action (a practical problem). Cognitions, values and practices are attributes of persons, not the objective world (whatever that is).
Problems cannot be articulated except within a conceptual system. No inquirer can investigate a problem from all perspectives simultaneously. And that is what a logical structure or theoretical framework is all about. It establishes a vantage point, a perspective, a set of lenses through which the researcher views the problem. In this sense, the selection of a logical framework is both a clarifying and exclusionary step in the research process. While it sharpens focus and consequently increases clarity brought to the problem area, it excludes from the view of the inquirer other perspectives that might be brought to bear on the problem, but does so in explicit recognition of those perspective and the rationale for their rejection.
In fact, it is the choice of frameworks chosen by the researcher that has contributed to new understandings or problem solutions by some researchers, or to inadequate inquiry or false conclusions by others. For example, decades of research on organizational management and behavior viewed organizations from the classic, rational model of hierarchical bureaucracy with tightly coupled substructures and linked and linear organizational processes (as posited by the German sociologist Max Weber in the early part of this century)(2). But that perspective never led to adequate understandings of how organizations, such as...