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Posted: September 18th, 2023

Making Judgements on Theory Adaptability


1. Making judgement as to whether a theory could be adapted for use in research is very important.

2. Describe the internal and external criticism that is used to evaluate middle range theories.

Note: APA 7. Reference less than 3 years

Making Judgements on Theory Adaptability
Whether a theory could be adapted for use in research requires considering both its internal consistency and alignment with empirical evidence. Internally, a theory’s constructs and relationships must be clearly defined and logically flow from its core assumptions (Bacharach, 1989). Externally, a theory is evaluated based on how well its hypothesized relationships have stood up to testing and how much empirical research has been conducted supporting or refuting it (Whetten, 1989).
A middle-range theory suitable for research should have well-established constructs that can be operationalized and measured, allowing for hypotheses to be developed and tested through systematic data collection and analysis. However, not all relationships within a theory need to have been directly examined for it to inspire new research questions (Merton, 1968). Overall evaluators must use prudent judgement to determine if a theory provides a useful framework for structuring inquiry.
Internal and External Criticism of Middle-Range Theories
Internal criticism of a middle-range theory focuses on analyzing the logical consistency and coherence of its core concepts, premises and hypothesized relationships (Bacharach, 1989). Researchers examine how well a theory holds together internally and if its different elements logically fit together into a unified framework (Whetten, 1989). External criticism centers on comparing a theory’s proposed explanations and predictions against empirical evidence from previous research (Merton, 1968). Scholars evaluate the extent to which a theory’s hypotheses have been supported or refuted through systematic data collection and analysis.
For example, role theory proposes that behaviors are influenced by expectations associated with social positions or roles that individuals occupy (Biddle, 1986). Internal criticism of role theory would assess how clearly and logically its key constructs of roles, expectations, and behaviors are defined and interrelated. External criticism focuses on appraising the body of research that has tested role theory’s hypothesized effects and relationships. Overall, internal and external criticism help determine a theory’s suitability and potential for further research applications.
In summary, carefully evaluating theories from both an internal logical and external empirical perspective is crucial for making informed judgements about their adaptability and potential usefulness for structuring new research inquiries. I hope these insights are helpful! Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Bacharach, S. B. (1989). Organizational theories: Some criteria for evaluation. Academy of management review, 14(4), 496-515.
Biddle, B. J. (1986). Recent developments in role theory. Annual review of sociology, 12(1), 67-92.
Merton, R. K. (1968). Social theory and social structure. Simon and Schuster.
Whetten, D. A. (1989). What constitutes a theoretical contribution?. Academy of management review, 14(4), 490-495.

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