The goal of this chapter is to set forth some guidelines for the construction of theories that have immediate and direct application. It can be summarized into three main parts.: Theory’s point of origin, What is theory, Theorist and practitioner.
Theory’s point of origin
- A theory has a point of origin. Based on the observation and description, the researcher needs to understand the process of induction. Theories represent levels of generalization beyond a statistical summary of data points. Then, the next step involves explorations of its implications.
- There is bias in applying the theory. The point of initial congruence between the practitioner and the theorist lies in their sharing of a common body of symptoms. But the practitioner is concerned with improving the situation. The scientist is concerned with building a model of how the situation that produced the undesirable symptoms came into being.
- Behavioral science can be regarded as morality. The theoretical models can provide a moral justification for decision making and managerial behavior.
What is theory
- Theory has several necessary features: (1) units; (2) the laws of interaction among the units of the model; (3) boundaries; (4)system states; (5)propositions;(6) an empirical indicator; (7)hypothesis.
- The underlying motive for the modeling of theories is either (1) the real world is so complex it needs to be conceptually simplified in order to understand it, or (2) that observation by itself does not reveal ordered relationships among empirically detected entities.
- Theory tries to make sense out of the observable world by ordering the relationships among elements that constitute the theorist’s focus of attention in the real world. The process of building a theory requires involvement in choosing elements, determining conceptually how the selected units are related to each other, identifying the boundary and the systems states. After having these necessary components, the first operation is a logical elucidation of the model itself including making propositions, then determining whether the model has any connection with the empirical world and operationalize the appropriate components of the model.
- Predication is a major goal of science. However, the only thing that is ever predicted from a scientific model is a value or magnitude of one or more units in that model. An empirical test of a scientifical model is only a test of the values taken by one or more units that may be predicted from the lawful relationships among the unit of the system.
- Understanding is an intellectual outcome of theory. The locus of understanding in the scientific model is to be found in its laws of interaction.
Theorist and practitioner
- There are two possible research stances toward a theoretical model: 1. the researcher may set as his task the proof of the adequacy of his theoretical model; 2. the research may set as his task to improve the starting theoretical model. There are some important limitations on the operations of the first type.
- The theorist-researcher is interested in testing and improving his models, but normally not interested in the normative decisions which are practitioners interested in.
- One significant dilemma is that there is a disjunction between theorist-researcher and his contemporary colleagues. The reasons rest on both practitioner and researcher, the former is lack of training of applied social science, the latter lack the modesty to a scientific community
- The cooperation between theory and practice is possible. The practitioner in a field may contribute to the development of better empirical indicators for measuring the values on the units employed in theoretical models. Theorists and practitioners should realize the value and wisdom of each other.