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Theories play a vitally important role in guiding research

Comprehensive Exam: Question 2

This is the second question of four questions in the comprehensive exam toward PhD program. I have
already sent my information and all four questions at once, but in case you may need it again, can be


Four questions are pasted below, please respond to the second question and when doing so please pay

attention to the informative papers that have been sent for previous question:

Question 1: Theory

Theories play a vitally important role in guiding research and organizing and making sense of research
findings. In spite of the great importance of theory-building and theory testing within your field of
specialization, there is no generally accepted conception of what a theory is. Because your dissertation
must contribute to theory, you must have a clear understanding of the variety of conceptions of theory,
types of theories, and ways of contributing to theory and be able to justify how, exactly, your study

contributes to theory.

Part 1

Using Gelso (2006), Harlow (2009), Stam, H. (2000, 2010), Wacker (1999), and five additional peer-
reviewed articles from your specialization, discuss scholarly views on the nature and types of theory.
Compare and contrast at least three views of what constitutes a theory, including the view you will use in
Part 3 of this question. Be sure to distinguish theory from related concepts, such as hypothesis,

paradigm, model, and concept.


Comprehensive Exam: Question 2

Part 1
Relationship between Theory and Practice
The association existing between practice and theory happens to be an extensive
discussion in various scholarly literatures that cover diverse disciplines or fields of study.
According to Aertsen, Jaspaert and Van-Gorp (2013), the systematic nature of any theory is often
focused on the provision of an illustrative or explanatory leverage on a given issue by offering
descriptions of innovative characteristics of events/phenomena. A theory can also provide
predictive utility. In relation to this, there exist three influential notions/views/opinions that hold
theories to be (1) instruments of performing things in the world; (2) reducible to observables; and

(3) statements concerning existing things or events. All academic studies are dependent on
theory. A theory offers a model for evaluation, enhances the establishment of academic
discipline/filed in an efficient manner, and is required in the applicability aspect of real world
issues. As such, theory acts as a driving force towards the accomplishment of practice and
research. Apart from its application is social disciplines, theory possess a revealing and practical
connections to medicine, physics, biology, chemistry and other life disciplines as it contributes to
significant practice, predictions and discovery explanations.
Brownlie, Hewer and Ferguson (2009) argue that the most common/famous assertion or
statement is that nothing happens to be as practical as a good theory. A good theory serves as a
baseline in which appropriate/best practices can be established. Despite a good theory being
significant in the realization of an informed practice, and continual maturity and improvement of
a discipline, it also possesses the ability to improve the practice and
comprehension/understanding of practitioners. On the contrary, many scholars have continued to
debate and discuss various controversies that are associated with the association between practice
and theory in relation to the perceived gap between these two aspects. These scholars discuss
such controversies in two dimensions, which are the viewpoint of practitioner and academic
viewpoint. Chan, Chan & Liu (2012), claim that practitioners are often asking the question
concerning the necessity of theories and when they can be used by such practitioners. In relation
to this, the academic happens to be guided and propelled towards thorough and increasingly
relevant/applicable theoretical contributions/donations that may contradict the practitioners’
demands. According to Chan, Chan & Liu (2012), a theory is the reality, and its pursuit by
academicians is based/grounded on its revelatory and explanatory potential, which has the ability
to invoke themes within extant literature that can result into overall shift in paradigm. According

to Hatlevik & Katrine (2012), theories have claimed that in applied disciplines of leadership and
management, theoretical propositions/proposals should be inspired or drive by the
appropriateness of the practice for the advancement and progression of knowledge within a
continuous cycle.
A research-driven theory possess a direct relevance to practice, and is beneficial to the
discipline/field. However, what comprises a theoretical donation/contribution within the field or
discipline of study can act as another source of contention among academicians. In relation to
this, a theory-practice association is considered a communication relationship. Sammut (2014)
argues that engaged scholarship, which is considered a remedy to perceived or real gap, requires
a more mode of query or investigation to convert information offered by practitioners and
scholars into actions with the aim of addressing issues involved in a given discipline. Even
within, methodological, theoretical and contextual situations, the use of a range of methods in
testing theories informs practice, and yields substantive and valued knowledge. In relation to
this, it can be argued that a theory yields research, and research produces and refines theory.
Ragozzino & Moschieri (2014) argue that there is often a tension between practice and
theory. These two distinct realms are connected to each other via a process of application and
abstraction. To describe this relationship/association by way of theory, it can be argues that
practice reterritorializes theory and theory deterritorializes practice. As a result, this interaction
can lead to a practice that is becoming a theory, and a theory that is becoming a practice.
Furthermore, to describe this association by way of theory, it can be noted that practice happens
to be an applied theory and theory happens to be an abstracted practice. Sammut (2014) claims
that there exists an age-old issues/problem with the association/relationship between practice and
theory in that individuals who are specialized in practice always argue that those specialized in

theory are separated or detached from the real/actual world, which is the world of practice. On
the other side, individuals who are specialized in theory always claim that those individuals who
have specialization in practice lack fundamental understanding or comprehension of what they
do. As such, the conflict between pro-theory and pro-practice individuals often leads to
contradictory and incongruous practices.
Suddaby (2014) argues that, there exist a third group of persons that embody or embrace
the becoming, the application/abstraction process. Individuals that belong to this category act as
conduit in that they bridge the two worlds (pro-practice and pro-theory worlds). In relation to
this, there exists a given art to explaining or describing the core of theory using words of an
individual who practices. On other hand, there exist a given art to joining the essences associated
with practices and submitting it to individuals who theorize. As such, building or establishing
this bridge serves an act of creation, building or opening of space.
Suddaby (2014) claims that the relationship between practice and theory can be termed as
dichotomous. In relation to this, the view of practice and theory as independent/dichotomous
association between the mind and spirit, and the phenomenal world traces its roots in the ancient
universe/world. For Plato the universe of appearances refers to the phenomenal world, which is
understood or comprehended by belief and imagination. According to Ragozzino & Moschieri
(2014), such a world needs to be separated or distinguished from the higher, abstract and
intelligible world that is grasped via thinking, intelligence and knowledge. In relation to this, it
can be argued that the Platonic views led to the ascendency of deliberate and careful observation
of the phenomenal universe over the philosophical reflection. Moreover, Platonic views
contributed to the establishment of a platform on which enlightenment, and the scientific,
industrial and information revolutions were accomplished or attained. As a result, science,

empiricism and technology displaced philosophy as primary methods through which the
phenomenal universe and nature of human cognition, mind, being and feeling could be
Issues Involved in the Translation of Theory into Practice
The association existing between practice and theory happens to be crucial in that
practice informs theory and theory informs practice. However, there exist several issues,
assumptions and controversies surrounding the translation conversion of a theory into practice.
In the real sense, the gap between practice and theory is considered a knowledge transfer
issue/problem. The initiation of information and dialogue between practitioners and scholars is a
suitable method of addressing the perceived misassumption and divide between practice and
theory. According to Chan, Chan & Liu (2012), engaged scholarship promoted the
appropriateness of research for practice apart from its contribution to the progression of
knowledge in a given domain. As such, this argument can be employed in addressing the issue of
knowledge production. In addition, to claim that the knowledge of practice and theory are
separate does not amount to the statement that these two elements act as substitutes to each other.
However, it can be argued that practice and theory complement each other. Taking into
consideration the association between application/practice and theory, a framework of four
stages that explains the association between the two elements has been developed. The first
phase of this model focuses on the conceptual establishment stage, which offers an initial
comprehension and description of the dynamics and nature of a problem, phenomenon or issues
that happens to be the focus of a theory. The second stage involves the operationalization
process, which takes into consideration the explicit link between the conceptual establishment
stage and practice. The thirds stage/phase involves the disconfirmation or confirmation aspects.

This phase takes into consideration issues such as implementation, planning, evaluation and
design of appropriate studies and research agendas to disconfirm and confirm theoretical
framework, which is central to theories. Consequently, the last stage involves the application
process, which tests or evaluates the theory via learning and experience from the real world
context. In relation to this, practice is evaluated with the aim of certifying the relevance and
significance of theory. This undertaking is executed with the aim of improving problem solving
and action. According to Aertsen, Jaspaert & Van-Gorp (2013), the continuous or constant
refinement and improvement is founded on the learning acquired from the application stage as
theory can never be compete.

Part 2
Theory of Current Interest in My Topic Area
My topic area focuses on the investigation of the effect that the prevailing construction
worker wage has on the expenses or costs of constructions of affordable housing for various
seniors within California in relation to the employees’ wage rate of market construction. Taking
that my topic area focuses on one of the significant role of the HRM, which is the determination
of salaries and benefits of employees, the most probable theory of interest within my topic area is
neo-institutional theory (Csaba, 2009). Neo-institutional theory exists among the principle
theoretical perspectives that are employed in understanding organizational behaviors as studied
or investigated in other organizations or as influenced by other organizations, and wider social
pressures or forces, especially broader cultural beliefs and rules. Early or initial
scholars/academicians focused on the theorization and documentation of the manner in which the
construction of wider cultural rules and beliefs comprised actors, and enhanced organizational
isomorphism, which involves the growing or increasing similarities of firms within a given field

or discipline. Consequently, the scope o coverage of the theory was extended to account for the
change and transformation of institutions or organizations alongside the heterogeneity of
practices and actors in fields (Goldmann, 2011). Taking this aspect into consideration my topic
area aims at ensuring that the current practices of the HR, which seem to embrace low
construction worker wage, within the construction industry. In relation to this, my study focuses
on ensuring that there is a transformation in the prevailing construction worker wage within
construction industry. As such, neo-institutionalism happens to be relevant to my topic area.
Being that neo-institutionalism focuses on the change and transformation of institutions several
strands of views and theorizations have emerged concerning this theory. Most of these
theorizations are related to the perspective of institutional logics. While neo-institutionalism is
associated closely with informed debates and ideas in management and sociology, this theory
draws or borrows most from social and cognitive psychology, political science, anthropology and
Current Views of the Neo-Institutional Theory
Taking into consideration the evolution that that the neo-institutionalism theory has
undergone, different scholars have established different views concerning the three
traditionally/conventionally recognized forms of neo-institutionalism. These forms include the
sociological, historical and rational choice. Besides, there has been a fourth development of a
fourth view of neo-institutionalism, which is the discursive neo-institutionalism. According to
Gruchy (2011), the three form of neo-institutionalism (sociological, historical and rational
choice) share one thing in common in that they are effective in explaining the aspect of
continuity, as opposed to change. Hasselbadh & Kallinikos (2009) argue that in all the three
forms of neo-institutionalism, which are employed in analyzing organizations, the primary role

of institutions is serving as constraints. In relation to this, political RI (rational choice
institutionalism) focuses on rational actors/agents who pursue their interests by following a logic
or judgment of calculation in political institutions or organizations, which are considered
systems/structures of incentives. On the other hand, HI (historical institutionalism focuses on the
aspect of detailing improvement of political institutions, which are explained as regularized
designs/patterns and routinized practices that are subject to a judgment of path-independence. SI
(social institutionalism) focuses on social actors who act in accordance to a sense/judgment of
appropriateness in political organizations or institutions, which are described as culturally-
framed and socially-constituted norms and rules.
Scholars have also made advancements in including views of institutionalism that
transcend the political arena. As a result, a new view of neo-institutionalism, which is the
discursive neo-institutionalism, has been developed. According to Junker (2011), discursive
institutionalism is a common instrument among academicians/scholars who employ discourse
and ideas in explaining political change or transformation within organizational/institutional
context. Hatlevik & Katrine (2012) argue that scholars who take discourse and ideas seriously
should be considered discursive institutionalists. Discursive institutionalism has been associated
with many names such as ideational institutionalism, constructivism institutionalism and
ideational turn among others. According to Ragozzino & Moschieri (2014), discursive
institutionalism happens to be an umbrella concept/idea for the vast series or range of functions
within political science, which take account or records of the substantive content of views and
interactive processes by which process or procedures are exchanged and conveyed via discourse.
In relation to the substantive dimension/aspects of discourse and ideas, discursive
institutionalism (DI) academicians/scholars consider views about what ought to be and what is at

various levels of generality. Goldmann (2011) argue that the ideas of what ought to be and what
is should be focused on moving from policy views. Other scholars have also focused on the
aspect of paradigms or programmatic ideas. Consequently, other scholars have also considered
aspects of what ought to be and what is as deeper philosophical views. According to Hatlevik &
Katrine (2012), various types of ideas/views with the inclusion of cognitive views that are
justified in term of necessity and interest-based logics should also be considered in the
determination of aspect of what ought to be and what is. Taking these arguments into
consideration, it is clear that various scholars have conflicting views concerning the theory of

Part 3

Appropriateness of the Uses to Which Neo-Institutionalism has been applied
The systematic nature, which is associated with a theory, focuses on the provision
explanatory or descriptive leverage on an issue. As such, theory contributes significantly to
explaining innovative characteristics of an event. Besides, the systematic nature of a theory
allows it offer predictive utility. According to Csaba (2009) and Goldmann (2011), theory that is
inspires or motivated by research has a direct relevance to beneficial discipline and practice. In
relation to this, the neo-institutional theory can be applied to various disciplines or fields. This
theory can be applied in five different areas of practice. Gruchy (2011) employed neo-
institutional model in examining human resource management practices (HRM practices). This
application was done in relation to multinational corporations that operate in nations such as
Russia, Finland and U.S. The application of the neo-institutional theory in addressing issues

involved in the HRM practice is often common in organizations that associated with the pressure
and social influence to adopt best practices. In relation to this, it can be argued that employee
development act as a significant source of competitive advantages to firms, which makes it
significant for companies/firms to adopt appropriate HRM practices. Taking this aspect into
consideration, the neo-institutional isomorphic processes offer three separate or distinctive
definitions/explanations (1) normative as a result of the dissemination of professional patterns of
organizations (2) coercive as a result of the government policies/regulations and (3) mimetic
where firms imitate or copy other firms. It is vital to note that neo-institutional theory does not
provide a lens for generic/broad organizational construct, but offers a lens for addressing
institutional pressure. In relation to this, there are two controversial issues that are associated
with the study conducted by Gruchy (2011). These issues are explicit despite the researcher
identifying local institutional forces from the subsidiaries of the multinational corporation
investigated in the study. The first controversial issue is that HRM practices are not championed
or defined by any professional agency to warrant the presence of normative pressure. The second
controversial issue is that the adoption of best HRM practices is not under appropriate regulation
or is not regulatory. As such, it can be argued that neo-institutional theory helps in the
comprehension of the determining factors of HRM practices. However, in the study executed by
Hasselbadh & Kallinikos (2009), the theoretical constructs/buildups of the neo-institutional
theory do not justify the event/phenomenon investigated in the research. In relation to this, the
differentiation of the normative, coercive and mimetic influences presents problems.
Hatlevik & Katrine (2012) borrowed from neo-institutional theory to offer an in-depth
understanding of the agents or factors that shaped how the policies of the human resource can be
adjusted in relation to the externally imposed UK policy against age discrimination. In relation to

this, the researcher’s theoretical lens addressed two factors. The first approach involved the
examination of the UK’s policy on HR regulations, while the second approach focused on the
investigation of other forces, which impact on the introduction of policies, apart from the
Evaluation of the Appropriateness of Uses to which Neo-Institutionalism Has been Applied,
and the Researchers’ Accurate Comprehension of the theory and its Scope
Researchers have succeeded in demonstrating an appropriate use or application of the
neo-institutionalism theory. As a theoretical perspective, the neo-institutional theory employs or
uses three isomorphic pressures in analyzing forces to which the HRM is subjected. These
pressures include mimetic, normative and coercive forces. Taking into consideration the
perspectives of researchers, the convergence of these three forces can be described or explained
within the HR (Csaba, 2009). The first point of convergence is the coercive force introduced by
the legislation of UK against age discrimination. The second point of convergence is the mimetic
force introduced by agencies such as the Age Positive and Employers’ Forum on Age. The third
point of convergence is the normative force from professional networks like the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development. As such, the study Goldmann (2011) focused on the
investigation of how coercive pressure or force from new policy introduced by the UK
government was viewed within firms in the UK. This goal was accomplished by focusing on the
natural attitude associated with individuals with stereotypes and diverse agendas. Despite the
neo-institutional theory being restricted to the study of the effects of isomorphic forces within
firms, Goldmann (2011) identified that organizational aspects such as preexisting values,
complexities, diverse stakeholders, interest groups and sectorial distinction complicate and delay
the execution of legislations associated with HRM practices.

Despite the internal elements/factors associated with firms, the neo-institutional theory
helps in the examination of events/phenomena within the theory’s proposition, with proof from
the three isomorphic pressures. On the other hand, there exists a gap or need for further research
on what comprises the definition of pre-existing circumstances and other internal values of HR
within the context of the neo-institutional theory. Taking into consideration the views or
perspective of the neo-institutional theory, Gruchy (2011) established a case study that can be
employed in understanding how external and internal organizational factors determine the
organizational actions. Gruchy (2011) focused on the identification of the aspect of regulation in
terms of Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which comprises a force that encouraged/motivated the top
managers to initiate or implement a change within ABC international. Interactions and
communications with professional publications and associations comprised the normative
influence. Although Gruchy (2011), could not discover the existence or presence of mimetic
isomorphism, the assessment of the generators of pressures within the context of neo-
institutional theory offered to separate effects. The first effect was associated with the coercive
pressure of Sarbanes-Oxley that motivated top managers to mandate/command top-down
information security that is related to changes across the whole/entire company. The second
effect is associated with the provision of significant source of views concerning the security
practices, policies and technologies that can be adopted by managers.
Whether the Researchers go beyond the Scope of Neo-Institutionalism, and Whether the
Reason/Judgment Linking Theory to Application is Sound.
Despite the fact that neo-institutional theory does not describe how companies are
supposed to handle conflicting demands, Gruchy (2011) employed the buildup dual influence
from internal management and internal force in positing such conflicting interactions/association.

Nevertheless, despite such as view being founded on assumption, it offers future research
opportunities. Gruchy (2011) employed the neo-institutional theory in conducting a
research/study with the aim of investigating the functions of institutional mechanisms, and
moderating functions of social network systems and cultural values in dispersion/diffusion of
global/universal work value within the realm/context of multinational firms or multinational
organizations. Furthermore, the research proposed that the normative and regulative institutional
processes have the likelihood of diffusing global work values in more efficient manner among
the members or subsidiaries of the MNOs (Multinational Organizations). However, the coercive
and regulative institutional processes are enacted rules and laws in specific environments that
enhance certain forms of behavior or restrict others. In relation to this, the support of the
regulatory or coercive force as experienced in Junker, (2011) study. According to Hatlevik &
Katrine (2012), multinational organizations should incorporate the shared universal work values
for them to create a working environment, where employees have the ability to coordinate their
activities and communicate their views with the aim of reaching similar goals. However,
approach is not applicable to or practicable with multinational organizations’ subsidiaries that are
located in various cultures. Csaba (2009) offers a different perception about the international
research/study involving the dispersion/diffusion of normative or coercive institutional pressures
or forces with the globalized context due to jurisdictional preferences. In like manner, Goldmann
(2011) hypothesized that leadership traits/characteristics, openness to cultural diversity,
performance orientation and customer orientation are work values that can result into the
transpiration/leaking of the global work environments. Such arguments cannot be generalized
within the realm, of neo-institutional theory or the practicability of isomorphism as a result of the
differences existing in institutional context nations. As such, such claims are considered an

attempt to move beyond the theoretical proposal/proposition. Besides, the researchers’
reasoning/judgments have contributed significantly to the linking of linking of theory and
application in a sound manner.


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