After conducting all of the groundwork and defining the problem, the next step is to develop a theoretical framework. A theoretical structure represents a model of your beliefs on how certain occurrences are related to each other and the reason why you believe that these elements are associated with each other, when all are taken together they represents a theory (Sekaran & Bougie, 2009). From the Course Objectives / Learning Outcomes in the Syllabus the need for a theoretical framework provides research elements that allow the learner to prepare and investigative work, leading to the successful completion of a capstone project or dissertation. Because theoretical framework is the basis for the hypotheses that you will develop it is important to follow the process for building a theoretical framework. Once the theoretical framework is developed, then testable hypotheses can be developed to examine whether your theory is valid or not. Next, the hypothesized relationships can thereafter be tested through appropriate statistical and numerical analyses. Therefore, the entire research rests on the basis of the theoretical framework. Occasionally, hypotheses are not produced, but developing a good theoretical framework is important to looking at the problem under study. If a hypotheses is developed or not, developing a good theoretical framework is imperative to learning more about the problem and the components involved with the problem.
Causal versus Correlational
When investigating a problem, managers have to figure out whether a casual or correlational study is needed. To determine which type of study should be used, the manager first must figure out what information needs to be obtained. A casual study is used to establish a definitive cause and effect relationship. If a manager wants identification of important factors associated with the problem then a correlation study is used. Whichever type of study is used, it is important to use the correct study to determine the appropriate information.
Whether a study is causal or correlational thus depends on the type of research questions asked and how the problem is defined. Studies where researchers want to portray the cause of one or more problems will be labeled a casual study. When the researcher wants to portray important variables that are connected with the problem then the study will be labeled a correlational study (Sekaran & Bougie, 2009). To separate the causal and correlational, different types of questions are used. Sekaran and Bougie (2009) demonstrate the difference with these two questions: A causal study question: Do drunk drivers cause more accidents? A correlational study question: Are drunken drivers and car accidents related? In other words, the intention of the researcher conducting a causal study is to be able to state that variable X causes variable Y. The answer to the first question will help to establish whether people who do not smoke will avoid developing cancer. The answer to the second question will determine if smoking and cancer are correlated.
Additionally, a researcher can ask, are drinking, taking drugs, and not sleeping enough associated with car accidents. If so, which one these has the largest contribution to dependent variable? (Sekaran & Bougie, 2009, p. 111). The intention here is not to establish a causal connection between one factor and another, but merely to see if a relationship does exist among the variables investigated. If it is determined they are related, then a different study may be performed to determine the extent.
Sekaran, U. & Bougie, R. (2009). Research methods for business. A skill-building approach, (5th ed). West Sussex, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.