Conceptual or Theoretical Framework: Bring in the Board of Directors

Good morning

Many of my students of late are struggling with the framework for their doctoral study.  Perhaps this blog may be of help.

A conceptual (qualitative term) or theoretical (quantitative term) framework is merely a lens in which to view your specific problem.  If we look at a CEO and those in the C-Suite—CIO, CFO, CAO etc.—each problem the CEO faces becomes a lens in which to view ONE particular problem.  He or she must consider the problem from different angles. Is it a financial problem? A leadership problem? An HR problem? A logistics problem? An ethical problem?

Think of each problem focus as simply a seat at the table in the C-Suite.  Each member of the C-suite will have their own focus within their own division and function/position in the company.  And coincidentally, each focus also happens to often coincide with a class offered in your doctoral program as well. *Smiles*

Then after you find the general area of focus–or the seat at the table; then you need to find a specific theory within that area.  For example, if the problem was determined to be a leadership problem, one of job satisfaction, then perhaps Maslow’s (1954) Hierarchy of Needs might be the specific theory within your framework.  Make sense?

AND we need to ensure that we are moving forward in a timely fashion.  Is this theory you may consider–as part of our lens in which to interpret this problem–current? In other words, is the theory still relevant in 2017?

I hope you find these thoughts helpful as part of this discussion. Please consider posting your own comments in reply below.

My best to your success!

Dr. Cheryl Lentz
The Academic Entrepreneur

March 19th, 2017 by admin


  1. 1 Maria Chiotu says:

    Thanks for explaining the meaning of theoretical framework. What if the theory is no longer relevant? Is there any example?
    When conducting a qualitative study, I now understand to change the term from theoretical framework to conceptual framework. Does this change the theory term too? or what? This is where I am still not clear. Thanks

    April 8th, 2017 at 7:29 pm
  2. 2 admin says:

    Terminology is important Maria. One uses a theoretical framework for a quant study; the term is conceptual framework for a qual study. The theory or lens in which you will view your study is the same. My best, Dr. C

    May 18th, 2017 at 2:54 pm

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