Chapter IV: Theories in Scientific Research
Theories- are explanations of natural or social behaviour, event or phenomenon.
Scientific Theory- is a system of constructs (concepts) and propositions (relationship between those constructs). It presents a logical, systematic and coherent explanations of a phenomenon of interest.
Theories should explain why things happen rather than describe or predict. Prediction requires “correlations” while Explanations require “causations” or understanding the cause and effect.
Three conditions of establishing “causations”
1. Correlation between two constructs
2. Temporal precedence ( the cause must precede the effect in time) 3. Rejection of alternative hypothesis through testing.
Two types of Explanations
1. Idiographic Explanations- are those that explain a single situation or event in idiosyncratic detail. 2. Nomothetic Explanations- seek to explain a class of situations in general.
Benefits of using theories in research
1. Theories provide the underlying logic of the occurrence of natural or social phenomena by explaining what are the key drivers and outcomes of the target phenomena. 2. Helping us synthesize prior empirical findings within a theoretical framework and reconcile contradictory findings by discovering contingent factors influencing the two constructs. 3. Provide guidance for future research by helping identify constructs and relationship. 4. Contribute to cumulative knowledge building by bridging gaps between other theories.
Building Blocks of a Theory (David Whetten 1989)
1. Constructs capture the “What of the theory” (what concepts are important for explaining phenomenon. 2. Propositions capture the “How” (how are these concepts related) 3. Logic represents the “Why” (Why are these concepts related) 4. Boundary conditions/assumption examine “Who, When and Where” (under what circumstances will these concepts and relationship works)
Attributes of a Good Theory
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