Presentation Title

Presentation Title

Theory Construction in the Social Sciences Alan Dennis [email protected] November, 2011 Agenda What is Theory What is Interesting Theory Variance Theory versus Process Theory

A Process for Theory Construction Testing and Generalizing Theory What is Theory You say tomato, I say tomato Theory is 1. the explanation of a relationship between two entities: why A influences B Why do people adopt new technologies? 2. the explanation of factors underlying a specific phenomenon Why was Windows Vista not widely adopted? 3. the explanation of a phenomenon

What does it mean to adopt a technology? Abend, 2008 Theory is 4. the explanation of theoretical meaning What is Marxist theory? 5. an overall perspective of understanding Technology can be thought of as a system of people and tools 6. and so on For the purpose of this Workshop, Ill use definition 1: the explanation of a relationship between two entities: why A influences B Abend, 2008

Components of a Theory Toulmin Claim Reasons Evidence Context Qualifiers Reservations What the entities that comprise the relationship How

the relationship(s) among the entities Why the underlying dynamics that link the entities Who, Where, When the boundary conditions to the relationship Whetten, 1989 Components of a Theory What How Entity A Entity B Because .

Why Boundary Conditions Who, Where, When Whetten, 1989 Big T Theory versus small t theory Big T Theories are given a name and usually have an acronym, written in capital letters Little t theories explain a phenomenon within a smaller domain, often an empirical paper

Dennis and Valacich, 2001 What Theory is Not References Data Variables and Constructs Boxes and Arrows Hypotheses Theory is a story with a plot that

explains how and why the characters (entities) interact with each other Sutton and Staw, 1995 Is This Theory? The intention to adopt a new technology has often been influenced by the perceived usefulness of that technology, the extent to which the technology can enable the user to accomplish a needed task. Venkatesh et al. (2003) conducted several experiments with undergraduate students and found that perceived usefulness had a significant positive impact on the intention to adopt. As perceived usefulness increased, so did the intention to adopt. This relationship has been observed in many other studies in a variety of

experimental and organization settings (Morris, et al., 2000; Taylor and Todd, 2005; Venkatesh, et al. 2000). Therefore: H1: The perceived usefulness of a technology has a direct positive relationship with the intention to adopt that technology What is Interesting Theory Dont write to get published, Write to get read and cited Upending Conventional Wisdom is Interesting Organization

Stability Something that appears to be good/bad isnt Correlation

Something that appears to be stable/changing isnt Evaluation Something that appears to be organized/chaotic isnt Two things that appear to be independent/related arent Causation The independent variable is the dependent variable

Davis, 1971 Finding the Essence is Interesting Starting a New Research Stream Formal Models

Studying the uncommon, but not the unnecessary Translating behavior into math Simplifying the Complex The definition of a Nobel prize in physics is #[email protected]!, why didnt I think of that. Oh Tesser, 2000 Extending Implications

is Interesting Surprising Implications of the Obvious Implications of the Bizarre When obvious truths leads to unexpected predictions When impossible beliefs are true

Look for paradox Scientific discovery does not start with the word Eureka; it starts with the words Thats funny. Tesser, 2000 Which is Interesting? 1. As perceived ease of use of a technology increases, so does the intention to adopt. 2. As Web sites get slower, Internet users search for more information. 3. Novice Internet users are more likely than experienced users to believe that Web sites presented first in a Google search are

better than others in the list. Variance Theory Process Theory versus Every good variance theory has a good process theory at its core Variance Theory Variance theory strives to understand What What entities explain the behavior of another entity? What explains the variance in an entitys behavior? Variables with different attributes affect other variables

Often tested with quantitative data Van de Ven, 2007 Technology Acceptance Model is a Variance Theory Perceived Ease of Use Perceived Usefulness Intention to Adopt Process Theory

Process theory strives to understand How How do entities explain the behavior of another entity? How do events explain the behavior of an entity? Entities move through different stages at different times Often tested with qualitative data Van de Ven, 2007 Rogers Theory of Adoption is a Process Theory Knowledge Persuasion Decision Accept Implementation

Confirmation Reject A Process for Theory Construction How to go from a blank page to a first draft The Rational Model of Science Theory is a waterfall model Method Data

Analysis Conclusions Martin, 1982 The Garbage Can Model of Science Data Method Theory Analysis Conclusions Mine your Garbage Can

Martin, 1982 Get The Idea Prior Theory in Other Disciplines Prior Theory Prior Empirical Results The TheIdea Idea

AA BB Methods Resources Personal Experiences Martin, 1982 Define The Idea What How Why Who, When, Where

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. The The Idea Idea AA BB

Title (the idea) What is the problem or issue (why do I care)? What are the key concepts (i.e., A and B)? What is the Research Question (RQ)? What answer do you expect to the RQ? Why do you expect that answer? What are the boundary conditions? What are the methods? How will the data answer the RQ? How do I know what I think until I see what I write? Van de Ven, 2007 Write The Idea

The The Idea Idea AA BB Title (1) Introduction - Setting (7) - Problem or Issue (2) - What this paper does (4&9: RQ and its answer) Prior Research and Theory - Prior Research - Hypothesis development - Define concepts (3)

- State the relationship (5) - Explain the relationship (6) - State the hypothesis (4) Methods (8) Refine The Idea Targeted Literature Search The The Idea Idea AA BB Thought Experiments

Targeted Literature Search Like Qualitative Research Search for evidence to support or refute your idea One hypothesis at a time Code articles (at the paragraph level) that evidence about your idea The The Idea Idea offer AA BB Both theoretical processes and data

Review the codings, change the categories, iterate Multiple raters (authors) debate the evidence and change the idea Thought Experiments Like Quantitative Research Set up tests of your idea like experiments Think about the manipulations Run the experiment in your mind Multiple raters (authors) debate the evidence and change the idea The The Idea Idea

AA BB You Can Change Your Data Literature searches and thought experiments guide your thinking, not dominate it. If you dont like what the literature tells you can change your data. Assess The Idea Whats New?

So What? Is the underlying logic solid? Well Done? Will this change research or practice?

Why So? Value-added contribution to current thinking Is it complete and thorough? The TheIdea Idea AA BB Done Well?

Is it well written and understandable? Whetten, 1989 Testing and Generalizing Theory Every research method is critically flawed The 3-Horned Dilemma Maximum Precision Lab Experiments

Surveys Maximum Generalizability Field Studies Maximum Realism McGrath, 1982 Generalization Setting 1

Setting 2 X Generalize Data Data Generalization Setting 1 Instantiate Theory

Data Generalize Instantiate Draw Conclusions Setting 2 Theory Data Draw Conclusions

Lee and Baskerville, Is Science Marketing? Publishing a theory is like marketing a new product Find the message of the theory Its unique selling proposition Know the attributes that help sell a theory Who developed it (halo effect) Its origins (borrowed theory is easier to sell) Simplicity sells faster than the complex Consistency with current Zeitgeist Test market the theory

With colleagues At conferences Peter and Olson, 1993 Questions I teach BUS S798 on Theory Development every Spring Semester, but Im on sabbatical this spring, so it wont be offered. References Abend, G. (2008) The Meaning of They, Sociological Theory, 26:2, 173-199. Davis, M. S. (1971) That's Interesting: Toward a Phenomenology of Sociology and a Sociology of Phenomenonology, Philosophy of Social Science,1, 309-344. Dennis, A. R., and Valacich, J. S. (2001) Conducting Experimental Research in Information Systems, Communications of the AIS, 7:5

Lee, Allen S.; Baskerville, Richard L.,(2003) Generalizing Generalizability in Information Systems Research, Information Systems Research, 14:3, 221-243. Martin, J. (1982) "A Garbage Can Model of the Research Process," in J.E.McGrath (ed.) Judgment Calls in Research, Beverly Hills: Sage, pp. 17-39 McGrath, J.E. (1982) "Dilemmatics: The Study of Research Choices and Dilemmas," in J.E. McGrath (ed.) Judgment Calls in Research, Beverly Hills: Sage, pp. 69-80 Peter, J. P. and J. C. Olson, (1983) "Is Science Marketing?" Journal of Marketing, (47) pp. 111-125. Sutton, R. I. And Staw, B. M. (1995) "What Theory is Not," Administrative Science Quarterly, (40), pp. 371-384. Tesser, A. (2000) Theories and Hypotheses, in Sternberg, R. J. (ed) Guide to Publishing in the Psychology Journals, Cambridge University Press, 58-80. Van de Ven, A. (2007) Engaged Scholarship, Oxford, Whetten, D.A. (1989) What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution? Academy of Management Review, (14), pp.490-495

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