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What is the difference between a conceptual framework and a theoretical framework?

Thus, the study subjects would be children of a specific age (e.g., aged 6–10 years). Imenda (2014) contends that the framework “is the soul of every research project” (p.185). Essentially, it determines how the researcher formulates the research problem, goes about investigating the problem, and what meaning or significance the research lends to the data collected and analyzed investigating the problem. “Theory is supposed to help researchers of any persuasion clarify what they are up to and to help them to explain to others what they are up to” (Walcott, 1995, p. 189, as cited in Fallon, 2016). It is important to discuss in the beginning to help researchers “clarify what they are up to” and important at the writing stage to “help explain to others what they are up to” (Fallon, 2016).

  1. The point of the study is lost, suggested findings are unsupported, or important conclusions are invisible to the researcher.
  2. Finally, a comprehensive and relatively rich conceptual framework has been proposed for future empirical explanations in various social settings via prospective research.
  3. The authors defined absorption as a state of intense attention during work in which time moves too rapidly and it is impossible to disconnect from the task at hand.

It may be in a written or diagrammatic format, representing expected relationships between variables. The terms ‘conceptual framework’ and ‘theoretical framework’ are commonly used in referring to the overall structure that shapes a research project. This article sets out to clarify these differences along with providing pointers on how to go about constructing each framework. A robust conceptual or theoretical framework is crucial when writing a thesis/dissertation. It defines your research gap, identifies your approach, and guides the interpretation of your results. It is important to state at this point that there are many different theoretical frameworks.

Examples of theoretical and conceptual frameworks

Many students, both in the undergraduate and graduate levels, have difficulty discriminating the theoretical from the conceptual framework. This requires a good understanding of both frameworks in order to conduct a good investigation. A theoretical framework provides the theoretical underpinnings of your work based on current original research. However, a conceptual framework allows you to develop your findings by mapping out the variables you may utilize in your study and how they interact.

The conceptual framework is almost always confused with the theoretical framework of the study. Simply put, the theoretical framework is the core foundation of theory that you’ll build your research upon. As we’ve mentioned many times on the blog, good research is developed by standing on the shoulders of giants. It’s extremely unlikely that your research topic will be completely novel and that there’ll be absolutely no existing theory that relates to it.

In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements. The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively. If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation, you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations. Let’s look at an example of a conceptual framework to make it a little more tangible. You’ll notice that in this specific conceptual framework, the hypotheses are integrated into the visual, helping to connect the rest of the document to the framework.

Organizational culture represents the philosophy of the organization and the mindset of management (Srivastava and Bhatnagar, 2010). Truss et al. (2012) have endorsed that training and development is one important factor that creates a positive brand image of the employer. In summary, a theoretical model is a specific representation of the relationships between variables within a theoretical framework.

The second and third highlighted elements are theoretical and conceptual frameworks. These guide biology education research (BER) studies, and may be less familiar to science researchers. Theoretical frameworks offer a way to explain and interpret the studied phenomenon, while conceptual frameworks clarify assumptions about the studied phenomenon.

There are often multiple theories that inform our understanding of a single phenomenon. For example, there are many theories of human agency (i.e., agency can be defined as the extent to which individuals are able to exert control in their personal and social lives). These theories offer abstract conceptualizations of whether a person has agency, how that agency exists, how it is supported and/or obstructed, and how an individual’s agency exists in a larger social context (e.g., in a team, an organization, or a society). As Varpio et al12 point out, theorists such as Giddens, Bourdieu, Butler, McNay, and Bandura have all addressed different aspects of agency, each offering different insights into the phenomenon. As this example illustrates, many scholars offer competing theories explaining phenomena.

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The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted. Workplace aesthetics and employees engagement of government tertiary Institutions In Rivers State, Nigeria.

Theoretical and Practical Contributions

Conceptual frameworks, though related to theoretical frameworks, serve distinct functions within research. This section reexamines the characteristics and functions of conceptual frameworks to provide a better understanding of their roles in qualitative research. If using a fully inductive theory development study design, theory will not shape the study design. There is no theoretical framework to develop because there is no theory to build into the structure of the research. Instead, the study will depend on a robustly developed conceptual framework (see below).

On the other hand, a conceptual framework is more specific to the research problem and provides a visual representation of the relationships between variables. It is often used to illustrate how the researcher is operationalizing the concepts or constructs being studied, and it can be more practical and applied than a theoretical framework. Finally, a conceptual framework is usually developed from the existing literature or the researcher’s problem conceptualization. External employer branding refers to the focus of employer branding strategies on prospective employees, while internal employer branding refers to the focus on incumbents. It is largely concerned with internal employer branding, which is divided into antecedents and repercussions.

As you can see, the theoretical framework and the conceptual framework are closely related concepts, but they differ in terms of focus and purpose. In other words, they’re different tools for different jobs, but they’re neighbours in the toolbox. Since the emergence of cultural dimensions back in 1981, Hofstede (2011) explored nine cultural dimensions on the basis of which one social setting is different from others. Without testing in the specific social setting, https://personal-accounting.org/ research studies and phenomena testified in other social settings might not bring the same results. The triangular relationship of employer branding, employees’ engagement, and employees’ talent retention needs to be testified in different social settings before generalizing and practicing. The study of Meere (as cited in Wang, 2016) concluded that employees’ engagement has at least three stages, i.e., actively disengaged, not engaged, and engaged.

Purpose of theoretical framework

This may also help HR practitioners to ensure the paradigmatic shift from traditional HR to the resource-based modern practices of HR. Within both the BER and the broader DBER communities, conceptual frameworks have been used to describe different constructs. For example, some researchers have used the term “conceptual framework” to describe students’ conceptual understandings of a biological phenomenon. This is distinct from a researcher’s conceptual framework of the educational phenomenon under investigation, which may also need to be explicitly described in the article. Other studies have presented a research logic model or flowchart of the research design as a conceptual framework.

Theoretical and conceptual frameworks are foundational components of any research study. They each play a crucial role in guiding and structuring the research, from the formation of research questions to the interpretation of results. A conceptual framework is the researcher’s idea on how the research problem will have to be explored. This is founded on the theoretical framework, which lies on a much broader scale of theoretical framework versus conceptual framework resolution. The theoretical framework dwells on time tested theories that embody the findings of numerous investigations on how phenomena occur. Many graduating college students and even graduate students have difficulty coming up with the conceptual framework and the theoretical framework of their thesis, a required section in thesis writing that serves as the students’ map on their first venture into research.

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