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Conceptual Framework

Professor Roger Vaughan

May 29th 2008

www.bournemouth.ac.uk
The structure of the presentation

The definition of a conceptual framework.

Where the conceptual framework appears in the research.

Developing the conceptual framework.

The presentation of the conceptual framework.

The good and bad of conceptual frameworks.

Conclusion.
The definition of a conceptual
framework
What is a conceptual framework?

A written or visual presentation that:

– “explains either graphically, or in narrative form, the main things


to be studied – the key factors, concepts or variables -

– and the presumed relationship among them”.

(Miles and Huberman, 1994, P18)


Where the conceptual framework
appears in the research
Where does the conceptual
framework fit?

Preparing a conceptual framework can be likened to planning a holiday.

The purpose of the pre-planning of the holiday is to:

– Know how to get to, and return from, your holiday destination.

– Know what to do when you are at the destination.

– To be better prepared, and able to make the most of your holiday, because
you can be guided by your previous experiences and by any information
provided by others.

But is this pre-planning metaphor applicable to both quantitative and qualitative


research in terms of the conceptual framework and the research process?
Where does the conceptual
framework fit in - quantitative?
Research problem: The issue of theoretical or practical interest.

Paradigm:
The philosophical assumptions about the nature
of the world and how we understand it -
positivism.
Aims and objectives: What we want to know and how the answer may
be built up.
Literature review: A critical and evaluative review of the thoughts
and experiences of others.

Conceptual framework: Provides the structure/content for the whole study


based on literature and personal experience
Specific questions that require answers.
Research questions: Methodology, methods and analysis.
Data collection and analysis: Making sense of the results.
Interpretation of the results: Revisit conceptual framework.
Evaluation of the research:
Where does the conceptual
framework fit in - qualitative?
Research problem: The issue of theoretical or practical interest.

Paradigm:
The philosophical assumptions about the
nature of the world and how we understand it
– e.g. interpretivism.
Aims and objectives: What we want to know and how the answer
may be built up.
Literature review: A critical and evaluative review of the thoughts
and experiences of others.
Research questions: Specific questions that require answers.
Data collection and analysis: Methodology, methods and analysis.
Interpretation of the results:
Conceptual framework develops as
participants’ views and issues are gathered
and analysed.
Evaluation of the research: Revisit conceptual framework.
Qualitative research - the position
of the conceptual framework
Normally qualitative work is described as starting from an inductive position,
seeking to build up theory, with the conceptual framework being ‘emergent’,
because existing literature/theories might mislead.

However, Miles and Huberman (1994) note that:

– Researchers generally have some idea of what will feature in the


study, a tentative rudimentary conceptual framework, and it is better to
have some idea of what you are looking for/at even if that idea
changes over time. This is particularly true for inexperienced and/or
time constrained researchers.

– Qualitative research can also be confirmatory. Yin (1994), for example,


identified pattern matching and explanation building. Pattern matching
starts with existing theory and tests its adequacy in terms of explaining
the findings. Explanation building starts with theory and then builds an
explanation while collecting and analysing data.
Developing the conceptual
framework
What inputs go into developing a
conceptual framework?
Experiential knowledge of student and supervisor:

– Technical knowledge.
– Research background.
– Personal experience.
– Data (particularly for qualitative).

Literature review:

– Prior ‘related’ theory – concepts and relationships that are used to represent the world,
what is happening and why.
– Prior ‘related’ research – how people have tackled ‘similar’ problems and what they
have learned.
– Other theory and research - approaches, lines of investigation and theory that are not
obviously relevant/previously used.
How might a conceptual
framework be developed?

The pieces of the conceptual framework are borrowed but the researcher
provides the structure. To develop the structure you could:

– Identify the key words used in the subject area of your study.

– Draw out the key things within something you have already written
about the subject area – literature review.

– Take one key concept, idea or term at a time and brainstorm all the
other things that might be related and then go back and select
those that seem most relevant.

Whichever is used it will take time and a number of iterations and the focus
is both on the content and the inter-relationships.
The presentation of the conceptual
framework
What general forms might a
conceptual framework take?

Process frameworks

– Set out the stages through which an action moves from initiation to
conclusion. These relate to the ‘how?’ question.

Content frameworks

– Set out the variables, and possibly the relationship (with relative
strengths) between them, that together answer the ‘why?’ question.
What specific forms might a
conceptual framework take?

The possibilities include:

– Flow charts.

– Tree diagrams.

– Shape based diagrams – triangles, concentric circles, overlapping circles.

– Mind maps.

– Soft systems.
A ‘flow chart’ of innovation decision
making
PRIOR CONDITIONS
1. Previous practice
2. Felt needs/problems
3. Innovativeness
4. Norms of the social
system
COMMUNICATION
CHANNELS

1. KNOWLEDGE 2. PERSUASION 3. DECISION 4. IMPLEMENTATION 5. CONFIRMATION

Observations of the Perceived characteristics


decision making unit of innovation
1. Adoption Confirmed Adoption
1. Socio-economic 1. Relative advantage
Later Adoption
characteristics
2. Compatibility
Discontinuance
2. Personality variables
3. Complexity 2. Rejection Continued Rejection
3. Communication
behaviour 4. Trialability
5. Observability Rogers 2003
A ‘tree chart’ of changing
consumer behaviour

Customers

Changing Product
customers ex pectations

Experience Values Lifestyles Demographics Quality Price Purchasing Information

Range Knowledge Priorities Health Access


Physical Service

Currency

Value Image
Loss of
Individuality Expectations Variety
loyalty

Age
composition
Ease Flexibility Security
A ‘triangle’ of needs

Self
actualisation
Est
eem
Affiliatio
n
Security

Physiological

Maslow 1954
A mind map of cruise travel and
impacts
T ra v e l

W hy not
m a s s to u r is m

S O C IA L C O N T IN G E N C Y
THEO R Y
W h o g e ts to g o ?
H e g e m o n y c la s s A d v a n ta g e s D is a d v a n ta g e s
Typ e s o f In d iv id u a l n o t p a r t o f m a s s
to u r is t s /
tr a v e lle r s

P O S T S T R U C T U R A L IS M
Typ e s o f F o u c a u lt - f r e e d o m a n d c o n t r o l C r u is e r im p a c t s
to u r is m K n o w le d g e - p o w e r s

P O S T M O D E R N IS M
B a u d s ila r d - H y p e s r e a lity

C u ltu r e /
G o ffm a n - fr o n ts ta g e /

p la c e s
B a c k s t a g e a u t h e n t ic it y

E n v iro n m e n t
P e o p le
A r e c r u is e r s
t o u r is t s o r n o t ?

W h a t t y p e o f im p a c t
and
w h a t ty p e o f to u r is t?

Jennings 2001
Soft systems framework of tourism
business activity

2 3
1 Process Institutional Business
Environment Environment
Content
4 5
6 Output Behaviour Motivation
7 Outcome
The good and bad of conceptual
frameworks
Why are conceptual frameworks
useful?

Conceptual frameworks provide researchers with:

– The ability to move beyond descriptions of ‘what’ to explanations of ‘why’


and ‘how’.

– A means of setting out an explanation set that might be used to define


and make sense of the data that flow from the research question.

– An filtering tool for selecting appropriate research questions and related


data collection methods.

– A reference point/structure for the discussion of the literature,


methodology and results.

– The boundaries of the work.


What are the limitations of a
conceptual framework?

Conceptual frameworks, however, also have problems in that the framework:

– Is influenced by the experience and knowledge of the individual – initial bias.

– Once developed will influence the researcher’s thinking and may result in
some things being given prominence and others being ignored – ongoing bias.

The solution is to revisit the conceptual framework, particularly at the end when
evaluating your work.
Conclusion
The overall contribution of the
conceptual framework
The conceptual framework encapsulates the research as it:

– Sets out the focus and content.

– Acts as the link between the literature, the methodology and the results
(regardless of when in the PhD process it is produced).

Thus it can be/will be the focus/starting point of the evaluation of originality in terms of
the criteria outlined by Hart (1998). For example:

– Is what has been focussed on entirely new?

– Is the way the subject been investigated different to the ‘normal’ approaches?

– Has new light been shed on previously explored issues?


The End
References
References

Hart C. (1998): Doing a Literature Review.” London, Sage.


Jennings G. (2001): Tourism Research. Australia, John Wiley and Sons.
Maslow A (1954): “Motivation and Personality.” New York: Harper.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, M. A. (1994): “Qualitative Data Analysis: An
Expanded Sourcebook” (2nd edition). Beverley Hills, Sage.
Rogers, E.M. (2003): “Diffusion of Innovations.” 5th Edition. London,
Simon and Schuster.
Smyth R. (2004): “Exploring the Usefulness of a Conceptual
Framework as a Research Tool: A Researcher's Reflections.” Issues In
Educational Research, Volume 14.
Yin R. K. (1994): “Case Study Research: Design and Methods.” (2nd
edition) California, Sage.