A Model of the Theory-Research Relation
The basic nature of knowledge in all disciplines is similar; it consists of concepts, definitions, generalizations, and theories, each dependent on the one preceding it. The attached model pictorially depicts the theory-research relationship.
The model shows that concepts are eventually linked together into generalizations that in turn form a logically consistent set of assumptions and propositions, which provides a theory - a general explanation of a phenomenon. The concepts become operationalized as variables and are used to develop hypotheses, which are deduced from the theory. Finally the hypotheses are tested to assess the theory. The results provide information for accepting, rejecting, or reformulating the basic generalizations of the theory. Over time, with continued empirical support and evidence, the supported hypotheses become general principles to guide action.
In the case of organizational theory, principles are developed to explain the structure and dynamics of organizations and the role of the individual in organizations. Theory is both the beginning and the end of scientific research. On the one hand, it serves as the basis for generating hypotheses that describe and predict observable behavior. On the other hand, the ultimate objective of all scientific endeavors is to develop reliable, general explanations - that is theory.
Hoy, W. K. & Miskel, C. G. (2008). Educational administration: Theory, research, and practice, 8th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Hoy, W. K. (2010). Quantitative research in education: A primer. Los Angeles: Sage.