Research Methods for Business A skill Building Approach
Chapter 4 and 5
R E S E A R C H M E T H O D S F O R
B U S I N E S S
Fifth Edition
Reference
R E S E AR C H M E T H O D S F O R
B U S I N E S S
A Skill-Building Approach
Fifth Edition
Uma Sekaran and Roger Bougie
Page 67
Chapter 4 The research process: theoretical framework
and hypothesis development
The need for a theoretical framework 69
Variables 69
Types of variables 70
Theoretical framework 80
The components of the theoretical framework 80
Theoretical framework for the example of air safety violations 82
Hypothesis development 86
Deﬁnition of a hypothesis 87
Statement of hypotheses: formats 87
Directional and nondirectional hypotheses 88
Null and alternate hypotheses 88
Hypothesis testing with qualitative research: negative case analysis 92
Managerial implications 95
Summary 96
Discussion question
Chapter 5 The research process: elements of
research design
The research design 102
Purpose of the study: exploratory, descriptive, hypothesis testing
(analytical and predictive), case study analysis 103
Exploratory study 103
Descriptive study 105
Hypothesis testing 108
Case study analysis 109
Review of the purpose of the study 109
Type of investigation: causal versus correlational 110
Extent of researcher interference with the study 111
Study setting: contrived and noncontrived 114
Unit of analysis: individuals, dyads, groups, organizations, cultures 116
Time horizon: cross-sectional versus longitudinal studies 119
Cross-sectional studies 119
Longitudinal studies 119
Review of elements of research design 120
Managerial implications 122
Summary 123
Discussion questions 123
CHAPTER 4
The research process: theoretical
framework and hypothesis
development
Topics discussed
The need for a theoretical framework
Variables
– Dependent variable
– Independent variable
– Moderating variable
– Mediating variable
The theoretical framework and its three basic features
Hypothesis development
– Deﬁnition
– If–then statements
– Directional and nondirectional hypotheses
– Null and alternate hypotheses
Managerial implication
C H AP TE R O B J E C TI VE S
After completing Chapter 4, you should be able to:
1. Identify and label variables associated with any given situation.
2. Trace and establish the links among the variables and evolve a theoretical framework.
3. Develop a set of hypotheses to be tested and state them in the null and the alternate.
4. Apply what has been learned to a research project.
In the previous chapter the focus was on learning how to narrow down and clearly deﬁne the
research problem. But mere deﬁnition of the problem does not solve it. How, then, does one
proceed further? The answer is by going through the entire process as shown in the research
process model in Figure 4.1. The next two steps are designated steps 4 and 5 and are indicated
by the shaded portions in the ﬁgure. Step 4 relates to evolving a theoretical framework and
step 5 deals with deriving testable hypotheses. In this chapter we shall discuss both topics in
some depth.
1
OBSERVATION
Broad area
of research
interest
identified
3
PROBLEM
DEFINITION
Research
problem
delineated 4
THEORETICAL
FRAMEWORK 5
GENERATION
OF
HYPOTHESES 6
SCIENTIFIC
RESEARCH
DESIGN 7
DATA COLLECTION,
ANALYSIS, AND
INTERPRETATION
8
DEDUCTION
Hypotheses
substantiated?
Research question
answered?
1 1
Managerial
Decision
Making1 0
Report
Presentation9
Report
WritingYesVariables clearly
identified and
labeled
2
PRELIMINARY
DATA GATHERING
Interviewing
Literature survey
No
Figure 4.1: The research process and where this chapter ﬁts in.
As you proceed through this chapter, in various places you are instructed to work through
certain exercises. Doing them at that time, before reading further, will help you in becoming
adept at formulating theoretical frameworks in a logical manner without getting confused.
The need for a theoretical framework
After conducting the interviews, completing a literature review, and deﬁning the problem, you
are ready to develop a theoretical framework. A theoretical framework is the foundation of
hypothetico-deductive research as it is the basis of the hypotheses that you will develop. A
theoretical framework represents your beliefs on how certain phenomena (or variables or
concepts) are related to each other (a model) and an explanation of why you believe that these
variables are associated with each other (a theory). Both the model and the theory ﬂow logically
fromthedocumentationofpreviousresearchintheproblemarea. Integratingyourlogicalbeliefs
withpublished research, takingintoconsiderationtheboundaries and constraints governingthe
situation, is pivotal in developing a scientiﬁc basis for investigating the research problem.
The process of building a theoretical framework includes:
1. Introducing deﬁnitions of the concepts or variables in your model.
2. Developing a conceptual model that provides a descriptive representation of your theory.
3. Coming up with a theory that provides an explanation for relationships between the
variables in your model.
From the theoretical framework, then, testable hypotheses can be developed to examine
whether your theory is valid or not. The hypothesized relationships can thereafter be tested
through appropriate statistical analyses. Hence, the entire research rests on the basis of the
theoretical framework. Even if testable hypotheses are not necessarily generated (as in some
applied research projects), developing a good theoretical framework is central to examining
the problem under investigation.
Sincethe theoreticalframeworkoffers theconceptualfoundationto proceed withtheresearch,
and sinceatheoreticalframeworkinvolvesnothingmorethanidentifyingthenetworkofrelation-
ships among the variables considered important to the study of any given problem situation, it is
essential to understand what a variable means and what the different types of variables are.
Variables
A variable is anything that can take on differing or varying values. The values can differ at
various times for the same object or person, or at the same time for different objects or persons.
Examples of variables are production units, absenteeism, and motivation.
E X A M P L E
Production units: One worker in the manufacturing department may produce one widget
per minute, a second might produce two per minute, a third might produce ﬁve per
minute. It is also possible that the same member might produce one widget the ﬁrst
minute and ﬁve the next minute. In both cases, the number of widgets produced has
taken on different values, and is therefore a variable.
Absenteeism: Today, three members in the sales department may be absent; tomor-
row, six members may not show up for work; the day after, there may be no one absent.
The value can thus theoretically range from ‘‘zero’’ to ‘‘all’’ being absent, on the
absenteeism variable.
Motivation: The levels of motivation of members to learn in the class or in a work team
might take on varying values ranging from ‘‘very low’’ to ‘‘very high.’’ An individual’s
motivation to learn from different classes or in different work teams might also take on
differing values. Now, how one measures the level of motivation is an entirely different
matter. The factor called motivation has to be reduced from its level of abstraction and
operationalizedinsuchawaythatitbecomesmeasurable. WewilldiscussthisinChapter6.
Types of variables
Four main types of variables are discussed in this chapter:
1. The dependent variable (also known as the criterion variable).
2. The independent variable (also known as the predictor variable).
3. The moderating variable.
4. The mediating variable.
Variables can be discrete (e.g., male/female) or continuous (e.g., the age of an individual).
Scale levels of variables are discussed in Chapter 7. Extraneous variables that confound cause-
and-effect relationships are discussed in Chapter 9 on Experimental Designs. In this chapter
we will primarily concern ourselves with the four types of variables listed above.
Dependent variable
The dependent variable is the variable of primary interest to the researcher. The researcher’s
goal is to understand and describe the dependent variable, or to explain its variability, or
predict it. In other words, it is the main variable that lends itself for investigation as a viable
factor. Through the analysis of the dependent variable (i.e., ﬁnding what variables inﬂuence
it), it is possible to ﬁnd answers or solutions to the problem. For this purpose, the researcher
will be interested in quantifying and measuring the dependent variable, as well as the other
variables that inﬂuence this variable.
E X A M P L E
A manager is concerned that the sales of a new product, introduced after test marketing
it, do not meet with his expectations. The dependent variable here is ‘‘sales’’. Since the
sales of the product can vary – they can be low, medium, or high – it is a variable; since
sales is the main focus of interest to the manager, it is the dependent variable.
A basic researcher is interested in investigating the debt-to-equity ratio of manu-
facturing companies in southern Germany. Here, the dependent variable is the ratio of
debt to equity.
A vice president is concerned that the employees are not loyal to the organization
and, in fact, seem to switch their loyalty to other institutions. The dependent variable in
this case is ‘‘organizational loyalty’’. Here again, there is variance found in the levels of
organizational loyalty ofemployees. The V.P. might want to know what accounts for the
variance in the loyaltyoforganizational members with a view to controllingit. Ifhe ﬁnds
that increased pay levels would ensure their loyalty and retention, he can then offer
inducement to employees by way of pay rises, which will help control the variability in
organizational loyalty and keep them in the organization.
It is possible to have more than one dependent variable in a study. For example, there is
always a tussle between quality and volume of output, low-cost production and customer
satisfaction, and so on. In such cases, the manager is interested to know the factors that
inﬂuence all the dependent variables of interest and how some of them might differ in regard
to different dependent variables. These investigations may call for multivariate statistical
analyses.
Now do Exercises 4.1 and 4.2
E X E R C I S E 4 . 1
An applied researcher wants to increase the performance of bank employees in a
particular branch.
What is the dependent variable in this case?
E X E R C I S E 4 . 2
A marketing manager believes that limiting the availability of a product increases
product desirability.
What is the dependent variable here?
Independent variable
It is generally conjectured that an independent variable is one that inﬂuences the dependent
variable in either a positive or negative way. That is, when the independent variable is present,
the dependent variable is also present, and with each unit of increase in the independent
variable, there is an increase or decrease in the dependent variable. In other words, the
variance in the dependent variable is accounted for by the independent variable. To establish
that a change in the independent variable causes a change in the dependent variable, all four of
the following conditions should be met:
1. The independent and the dependent variable should covary: in other words, a change in
the dependent variable should be associated with a change in the independent variable.
2. The independent variable (the presumed causal factor) should precede the dependent
variable. In other words, there must be a time sequence in which the two occur: the cause
must occur before the effect.
3. No other factor should be a possible cause of the change in the dependent variable. Hence,
the researcher should control for the effects of other variables.
4. A logical explanation (a theory) is needed about why the independent variable affects the
dependent variable.
Because of the time sequence condition, experimental designs, described in Chapter 9, are
often used to establish causal relationships.
E X A M P L E
Research studies indicate that successful new product development has an inﬂuence on
the stock market price of the company. That is, the more successful the new product
turns out to be, the higher will be the stock market price of that ﬁrm. Therefore, the
success of the new product is the independent variable, and stock market price the
dependent variable. The degree of perceived success of the new product developed
will explain the variance in the stock market price of the company. This relationship
and the labeling of the variables are illustrated in Figure 4.2.
Cross-cultural research indicates that managerial values govern the power distance
between superiors and subordinates. Here, power distance (i.e., egalitarian interactions
between the boss and the employee, versus the high-power superior in limited interac-
tion with the low-power subordinate) is the subject of interest and hence the dependent
variable. Managerial values that explain the variance in power distance comprise the
independent variable. This relationship is illustrated in Figure 4.3.
Now do Exercises 4.3 and 4.4.
List the variables in these two exercises individually, and label them as dependent or
independent,explainingwhytheyaresolabeled. Creatediagramstoillustratetherelationships.
E X E R C I S E 4 . 3
A manager believes that good supervision and training will increase the production
level of the workers.
E X E R C I S E 4 . 4
A marketing manager believes that selecting physically attractive spokespersons and
models to endorse their products increases the persuasiveness of a message.
Moderating variable
The moderating variable is one that has a strong contingent effect on the independent
variable–dependent variable relationship. That is, the presence of a third variable (the
moderating variable) modiﬁes the original relationship between the independent and the
dependent variables. This becomes clear through the following examples.
E X A M P L E
It has been found that there is a relationship between the availability of reference
manuals that manufacturing employees have access to, and the product rejects. That is,
when workers follow the procedures laid down in the manual, they are able to
manufacture products that are ﬂawless. This relationship is illustrated in Figure 4.4(a).Managerial values Power distance
Independent variable Dependent variable
Figure 4.3: Diagram of the relationship between the independent variable (managerial
values) and the dependent variable (power distance).
E X E R C I S E 4 . 4
A marketing manager believes that selecting physically attractive spokespersons and
models to endorse their products increases the persuasiveness of a message.
Moderating variable
The moderating variable is one that has a strong contingent effect on the independent
variable–dependent variable relationship. That is, the presence of a third variable (the
moderating variable) modiﬁes the original relationship between the independent and the
dependent variables. This becomes clear through the following examples.
E X A M P L E
It has been found that there is a relationship between the availability of reference
manuals that manufacturing employees have access to, and the product rejects. That is,
when workers follow the procedures laid down in the manual, they are able to
manufacture products that are ﬂawless. This relationship is illustrated in Figure 4.4(a).
Although this relationship can be said to hold true generally for all workers, it is
nevertheless contingenton the inclination orurge ofthe employees to lookin the manual
every time a new procedure is to be adopted. In other words, only those who have the
interest and urge to refer to the manual every time a new process is adopted will
produce ﬂawless products. Others who do not consult the manual will not beneﬁt and
will continue to produce defective products. This inﬂuence of the attributes of the
worker on the relationship between the independent and the dependentvariables can be
illustrated as shown in Figure 4.4(b).
Availability of
Reference Manuals # of Rejects
IV DV
Availability of
Reference Manuals # of Rejects
IV DV
Interest
&
Inclination
MV
Figure 4.4: (a) Diagram of the relationship between the independent variable (availa-
bility of reference manuals) and the dependent variable (rejects); (b) diagram of the
relationship between the independent variable (availability of reference materials) and
the dependent variable (rejects) as moderated by the moderating variable (interest and
inclination). (b)
pAvailability of
Reference Manuals # of Rejects
IV DV
Availability of
Reference Manuals # of Rejects
IV DV
Interest
&
Inclination
MV
Figure 4.4: (a) Diagram of the relationship between the independent variable (availa-
bility of reference manuals) and the dependent variable (rejects); (b) diagram of the
relationship between the independent variable (availability of reference materials) and
the dependent variable (rejects) as moderated by the moderating variable (interest and inclination).
The variable that moderates the relationship is known as the moderating
variable.
E X A M P L E
Let us take another example of a moderating variable. A prevalent theory is that the
diversity of the workforce (comprising people of different ethnic origins, races, and
nationalities) contributes more to organizational effectiveness because each group brings its own special expertise and skills to the workplace. This synergy can be
exploited, however, only if managers know how to harness the special talents of the
diverse work group; otherwise they will remain untapped. In the above scenario,
organizational effectiveness is the dependent variable, which is positively inﬂuenced
by workforce diversity – the independent variable. However, to harness the potential,
managers must know how to encourage and coordinate the talents ofthe various groups
to make things work. If not, the synergy will not be tapped. In other words, the effective
utilization ofdifferenttalents, perspectives, and eclectic problem-solving capabilities for
enhanced organizational effectiveness is contingentonthe skill ofthe managers inacting
as catalysts. This managerial expertise then becomes the moderating variable. These
relationships can be depicted as in Figure 4.5.
Workforce diversity Organizational
effectiveness
Independent variable Dependent variable
Managerial
expertise
Moderating variable
Figure 4.5: Diagram of the relationship among the three variables: workforce diversity,
organizational effectiveness, and managerial expertise.
The distinction between an independent variable and a moderating variable
At times, confusion is likely to arise as to when a variable is to be treated as an independent
variable and when it becomes a moderating variable. For instance, there may be two situations
as follows:
1. A research study indicates that the better the quality of the training programs in an
organization and the greater the growth needs of the employees (i.e., where the need to
develop and grow on the job is strong), the greater is their willingness to learn new ways of
doing things.
2. Another research study indicates that the willingness of the employees to learn new
ways of doing things is not inﬂuenced by the quality of the training programs offered
by the organizations to all people without any distinction. Only those with high
growth needs seem to have the yearning to learn to do new things through specialized
training.
In the above two situations, we have the same three variables. In the ﬁrst case, the training
programs and growth need strength are the independent variables that inﬂuence employees’
willingness to learn, this latter being the dependent variable. In the second case, however, the
quality of the training program is the independent variable, and while the dependent variable
remains the same, growth need strength becomes a moderating variable. In other words, only
those with high growth needs show a greater willingness and adaptability to learn to do new
things when the quality of the training program is improved. Thus, the relationship between the
independentanddependentvariableshasnowbecomecontingentontheexistenceofamoderator.
The above illustration makes it clear that even though the variables used are the same, the
decision as to whether to label them dependent, independent, or moderating depends on how
they affect one another. The differences between the effects of the independent and the
moderating variables may be visually depicted as in Figures 4.6(a) and 4.6(b). Note the steep
incline of the top line and the relative ﬂatness of the bottom line in Figure 4.6(b)
Figure 4.6(b).
Training programs
Growth needsWillingness to learn
(a)
Training programs Effects for those low
in growth needsEffects for those high
in growth needs
Willingness to learn
(b)
Figure 4.6: (a) Illustration ofthe inﬂuence ofindependentvariables on the dependent variable
when no moderating variable operates in the situation; (b) illustration of the inﬂuence of
independent variables on the dependent variable when a moderating variable is operating in
the situation.
Page 76
Now do Exercises 4.5 and 4.6
List and label the variables in these two exercises and explain and illustrate by means of
diagrams the relationships among the variables.
E X E R C I S E 4 . 5
A manager ﬁnds that off-the-job classroom training has a great impact on the produc-
tivity of the employees in her department. However, she also observes that employees
over 60 years of age do not seem to derive much beneﬁt and do not improve with such
training.
E X E R C I S E 4 . 6
A manager ﬁnds that the intensity of e-Business adoption is positively associated with
sales performance. What’s more, when market uncertainty (the rate of change in the
composition of customers and their preferences) is high, this positive effect is
strengthened.
Mediating variable
A mediating variable (or intervening variable) is one that surfaces between the time the
independent variables start operating to inﬂuence the dependent variable and the time their
impact is felt on it. There is thus a temporal quality or time dimension to the mediating
variable. In other words, bringing a mediating variable into play helps you to model a
process. The mediating variable surfaces as a function of the independent variable(s)
operating in any situation, and helps to conceptualize and explain the inﬂuence of the
independent variable(s) on the dependent variable. The following example illustrates this
point.
E X A M P L E
In the previous example where the independent variable (workforce diversity) inﬂu-
ences the dependent variable (organizational effectiveness), the mediating variable that
surfaces as a function of the diversity in the workforce is ‘‘creative synergy’’. This
creative synergy results from a multiethnic, multiracial, and multinational (i.e., diverse)
workforce interacting and bringing together their multifaceted expertise in problem
solving. This helps us to understand how organizational effectiveness can result from.
having diversity in the workforce. Note that creative synergy, the mediating variable,
surfaces at time t2, as a function of workforce diversity, which was in place at time t1, to
bring about organizational effectiveness in time t3. The mediating variable of creative
synergy helps us to conceptualize and understand how workforce diversity brings
about organizational effectiveness. The dynamics ofthese relationships are illustrated in
Figure 4.7.
It would be interesting to see how the inclusion of the moderating variable ‘‘managerial
expertise’’ in the foregoing example would change the model or affect the relationships. The
new set of relationships that would emerge in the presence of the moderator are depicted in
Figure 4.8. As can be seen, managerial expertise moderates the relationship between work-
force diversity and creative synergy. In other words, creative synergy will not result from the
multifaceted problem-solving skills of the diverse workforce unless the manager is capable of
harnessing that synergy bycreatively coordinating the differentskills. Ifthe manager lacks the
expertise to perform this role, then no matter how many different problem-solving skills theWorkforce
diversity Creative
synergy Organizational
effectiveness
Independent variableTime: t2 t3t1
Intervening variable Dependent variable
Figure 4.7: Diagram of the relationship among the independent, mediating, and
dependent variables
It would be interesting to see how the inclusion of the moderating variable ‘‘managerial
expertise’’ in the foregoing example would change the model or affect the relationships. The
new set of relationships that would emerge in the presence of the moderator are depicted in
Figure 4.8. As can be seen, managerial expertise moderates the relationship between work-
force diversity and creative synergy. In other words, creative synergy will not result from the
multifaceted problem-solving skills of the diverse workforce unless the manager is capable of
harnessing that synergy bycreatively coordinating the differentskills. Ifthe manager lacks the
expertise to perform this role, then no matter how many different problem-solving skills theWorkforce
diversity Creative
synergy Organizational
effectiveness
Independent variableTime: t2 t3t1
Intervening variable Dependent variable
Figure 4.7: Diagram of the relationship among the independent, mediating, and
dependent variables.
Workforce
diversity Creative
synergy Organizational
effectiveness
Independent variableTime: t2 t3t1
Intervening variable Dependent variable
Managerial
expertise
Moderating variable
Figure 4.8: Diagram of the relationship among the independent, mediating, moderating, and
dependent variables.
diverse workforce might have, synergy will just not surface. Instead offunctioning effectively,
the organization might just remain static, or even deteriorate.
It is now easy to see what the differences are among an independent variable, a mediating
variable, and a moderating variable. The independent variable helps to explain the variance in
the dependent variable; the mediating variable surfaces at time t2 as a function of the
independent variable, which also helps us to conceptualize the relationship between the
independent and dependent variables; and the moderating variable has a contingent effect on
the relationship between two variables. To put it differently, while the independent variable
explains the variance in the dependent variable, the mediating variable does not add to the
variance already explained by the independent variable, whereas the moderating variable has
an interaction effect with the independent variable in explaining the variance. That is, unless
the moderating variable is present, the theorized relationship between the other two variables
considered will not hold.
Whether a variable is an independent variable, a dependent variable, a mediating variable,
or a moderating variable should be determined by a careful reading ofthe dynamics operating
in any given situation. For instance, a variable such as motivation to work could be a
dependent variable, an independent variable, a mediating variable, or a moderating variable,
depending on the theoretical model that is being advanced.
Now do Exercises 4.7, 4.8, and 4.9
E X E R C I S E 4 . 7
Make up three different situations in which motivation to work would be an indepen-
dent variable, a mediating variable, and a moderating variable.
E X E R C I S E 4 . 8
Failure to follow accounting principles causes immense confusion, which in turn creates
a number of problems for the organization. Those with vast experience in bookkeeping,
however, are able to avert the problems by taking timely corrective action. List and label
the variables in this situation, explain the relationships among the variables, and
illustrate these by means of diagrams.
E X E R C I S E 4 . 9
The managerofHaines Company observes thatthe morale ofemployees in hercompany
is low. She thinks that if their working conditions are improved, pay scales raised, and
the vacationbeneﬁts made attractive, the morale will be boosted. She doubts, however, if
an increase in pay scales would raise the morale of all employees. Her conjecture is that
those that have supplemental incomes will just not be ‘‘turned on’’ by higher pay, and
only those without side incomes will be happy with increased pay with a resultant boost
in morale. List and label the variables in this situation. Explain the relationships among
the variables and illustrate them by means of diagrams. What might be the problem
statement or problem deﬁnition for the situation?
Theoretical framework
Having examined the different kinds of variables that can operate in a situation and how the
relationships among these can be established, it is now possible to see how we can develop the
theoretical framework for our research.
The theoretical framework is the foundation on which the entire research project is based.
It is a logically developed, described, and elaborated network of associations among the
variables deemed relevant to the problem situation and identiﬁed through such processes as
interviews, observations, and literature review. Experience and intuition also guide the
development of the theoretical framework.
It becomes evident at this stage that, to arrive at good solutions to the problem, one should
ﬁrst correctly identify the problem, and then the variables that contribute to it. The importance
of conducting purposeful interviews and doing a thorough literature review now becomes
clear. After identifying the appropriate variables, the next step is to elaborate the network of
associations among the variables, so that relevant hypotheses can be developed and subse-
quently tested. Based on the results of hypothesis testing (which indicate whether or not the
hypotheses have been supported), the extent to which the problem can be solved becomes
evident. The theoretical framework is thus an important step in the research process.
The relationship between the literature review and the theoretical framework is that the
former provides a solid foundation for developing the latter. That is, the literature review
identiﬁes the variables that might be important, as determined by previous research ﬁndings.
This, in addition to other logical connections that can be conceptualized, forms the basis for the
theoreticalmodel. Thetheoreticalframeworkrepresentsandelaboratestherelationshipsamong
the variables, explains the theory underlying these relations, and describes the nature and
direction of the relationships. Just as the literature review sets the stage for a good theoretical
framework, this in turn provides the logical base for developing testable hypotheses.
The components of the theoretical framework
A good theoretical framework identiﬁes and deﬁnes the important variables in the situation
that are relevant to the problem and subsequently describes and explains the interconnections among these variables. The relationships among the independent varia-
bles, the dependent variable(s), and, if applicable, the moderating and mediating variables
are elaborated. Should there be any moderating variable(s), it is important to explain how
and what speciﬁc relationships they moderate. An explanation of why they operate as
moderators should also be offered. If there are any mediating variables, a discussion on how
or why they are treated as mediating variables is necessary. Any interrelationships among
the independent variables themselves, or among the dependent variables themselves (in
case there are two or more dependent variables), should also be clearly spelled out and
adequately explained. Note that a good theoretical framework is not necessarily a complex
framework.
1. The variables considered relevant to the study should be clearly deﬁned.
2. A conceptual model that describes the relationships between the variables in the model
should be given.
3. There should be a clear explanation of why we expect these relationships to exist.
It is not always easy to come up with generally agreed-upon deﬁnitions of the relevant
variables. More often than not, there are many deﬁnitions available in the literature (for
instance, there are literally dozens of deﬁnitions of ‘‘brand image’’, ‘‘customer satisfaction’’,
and ‘‘service quality’’ available in the marketing literature). Still, well-chosen guiding
deﬁnitions of concepts are needed, because they will help you to provide an explanation
for the relationships between the variables in your model. What’s more, they will also serve as
a basis for the operationalization or measurement of your concepts in the data collection stage
of the research process. Hence, you will have to choose a useful deﬁnition from the literature
(do not use dictionary deﬁnitions, they are usually too general). It is also important that you
explain why you have chosen a particular deﬁnition as your guiding deﬁnition.
A conceptual model helps you to structure your discussion of the literature. A conceptual
model describes how the concepts in your model are related to each other. A schematic
diagram of the conceptual model helps the reader to visualize the theorized relationships.
Hence, conceptual models are often expressed in this form. However, relationships
between variables can also be adequately expressed in words. Both a schematic diagram
of the conceptual model and a description of the relationships between the variables in
words should be given, so that the reader can see and easily comprehend the theorized
relationships.
A good model is based on a sound theory. A theory or a clear explanation for the
relationships in your model is the last component of the theoretical framework. A theory
attempts to explain relationships between the variables in your model: an explanation should
be provided for all the important relationships that are theorized to exist among the variables.
If the nature and direction of the relationships can be theorized on the basis of the ﬁndings of
previous research and/or your own ideas on the subject, then there should also be an
indication as to whether the relationships should be positive or negative and linear or
nonlinear. From the theoretical framework, then, testable hypotheses can be developed to
examine whether the theory formulated is valid or not. Page 81