The theoretical framework is the structure that can hold or support a theory of a research study. The theoretical framework introduces and describes the theory that explains why the research problem under study exists.
What is a Theoretical Framework?
- It is the ‘blueprint’ or guide for research.
- It is a framework based on an existing theory in a field of inquiry that is related to and/or reflects the hypothesis of a study.
- It is a blueprint that is often ‘borrowed’ by the researcher to build his/her own house or research inquiry.
- It serves as the foundation upon which research is constructed.
- As a type of manuscript, a theoretical framework synthesizes existing theories and related concepts and empirical research, to develop a foundation for new theory development
- Compare the role of the theoretical framework to that of a map or travel plan. Thus, when traveling to a particular location, the map guides your path. Likewise, the theoretical framework guides the researcher so that she/he would not deviate from the confines of the accepted theories to make his/her final contribution scholarly and academic.
The Importance of Theoretical Framework in Research
The theoretical framework offers several benefits to research work.
- The theoretical framework assists researchers in situating and contextualizing formal theories into their studies as a guide.
- The theoretical framework guides and should resonate with every aspect of the research process from the definition of the problem, literature survey, methodology, presentation, and discussion of the findings as well as the conclusions that are drawn.
- Contends that the theoretical framework helps the researcher in considering alternative theories that might challenge his or her perspective, thereby enriching the strengths of the study.
How to Select a Suitable Theoretical Framework
There is no one perfect or right theory for a dissertation, though certain theories are popular.
The Position of a Theoretical Framework in a Thesis/Dissertation Research
- Many research instructors and postgraduate students usually wonder where a theoretical framework is supposed to be placed in a dissertation or thesis research.
- Many scholars suggest that the theoretical framework needs to be shown to readers right at the onset of the thesis writing.
- The student is supposed to select and clarify the theoretical framework from the time the dissertation topic is initially conceptualized
Example of Theoretical Framework
- Example: Problem statement and research questions. Company X is struggling with the problem that many online customers do not return to make subsequent purchases.
- Management wants to increase customer loyalty and believes that improved customer satisfaction will play a major role in achieving this goal. To investigate this problem, identified and plan to focus on the following problem statement, objective, and research questions:
- Problem: Many online customers do not return to make subsequent purchases.
Objective: To increase customer loyalty.
Research question: How can the satisfaction of company X’s online customers be improved in order to increase customer loyalty