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A conceptual framework is an analytical tool with several variations and contexts. It can be applied in different categories of work where an overall picture is needed. It is used to make conceptual distinctions and organize ideas. Strong conceptual frameworks capture something real and do this in a way that is easy to remember and apply.

Isaiah Berlin used the metaphor of a "fox" and a "hedgehog" to make conceptual distinctions in how important philosophers and authors view the world.[1] Berlin describes hedgehogs as those who use a single idea or organizing principle to view the world (such as Dante Alighieri, Blaise Pascal, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Plato, Henrik Ibsen and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel). Foxes, on the other hand, incorporate a type of pluralism and view the world through multiple, sometimes conflicting, lenses (examples include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, James Joyce, William Shakespeare, Aristotle, Herodotus, Molière, and Honoré de Balzac).

Economists use the conceptual framework of "supply" and "demand" to distinguish between the behavior and incentive systems of firms and consumers.[2] Like many conceptual frameworks, supply and demand can be presented through visual or graphical representations (see demand curve). Both political Science and economics use principal agent theory as a conceptual framework. The politics-administration dichotomy is a long-standing conceptual framework used in public administration.[3] All three of these cases are examples of a macro level conceptual framework.

Overview

The use of the term conceptual framework crosses both scale (large and small theories)[4][5] and contexts (social science,[6][7] marketing,[8] applied science,[9] art[10] etc.). Its explicit definition and application can therefore vary.

Conceptual frameworks are particularly useful as organizing devices in empirical research. One set of scholars has applied the notion of conceptual framework to deductive, empirical research at the micro- or individual study level.[11][12][13][14] They employ American football plays as a useful metaphor to clarify the meaning of conceptual framework (used in the context of a ded

Isaiah Berlin used the metaphor of a "fox" and a "hedgehog" to make conceptual distinctions in how important philosophers and authors view the world.[1] Berlin describes hedgehogs as those who use a single idea or organizing principle to view the world (such as Dante Alighieri, Blaise Pascal, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Plato, Henrik Ibsen and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel). Foxes, on the other hand, incorporate a type of pluralism and view the world through multiple, sometimes conflicting, lenses (examples include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, James Joyce, William Shakespeare, Aristotle, Herodotus, Molière, and Honoré de Balzac).

Economists use the conceptual framework of "supply" and "demand" to distinguish between the behavior and incentive systems of firms and consumers.[2] Like many conceptual frameworks, supply and demand can be presented through visual or graphical representations (see demand curve). Both political Science and economics use principal agent theory as a conceptual framework. The politics-administration dichotomy is a long-standing conceptual framework used in public administration.[3] All three of these cases are examples of a macro level conceptual framework.

The use of the term conceptual framework crosses both scale (large and small theories)[4][5] and contexts (social science,[6][7] marketing,[8] applied science,[9] art[10] etc.). Its explicit definition and application can therefore vary.

Conceptual frameworks are particularly useful as organizing devices in empirical research. One set of scholars has applied the notion of conceptual framework to deductive, empirical research at the micro- or individual study level.[11][12][13][14] They employ American football plays as a useful metaphor to clarify the meaning of conceptual framework (used in the context of a deductive empirical study).

Likewise, conceptual frameworks are abstract representations, connected to the research project's goal that direct the collection and analysis of data (on the plane of observation – the ground). Critically, a football play is a "plan of action" tied to a particular, timely, purpose, usually summarized as long or short yardage.<

Conceptual frameworks are particularly useful as organizing devices in empirical research. One set of scholars has applied the notion of conceptual framework to deductive, empirical research at the micro- or individual study level.[11][12][13][14] They employ American football plays as a useful metaphor to clarify the meaning of conceptual framework (used in the context of a deductive empirical study).

Likewise, conceptual frameworks are abstract representations, connected to the research project's goal that direct the collection and analysis of data (on the plane of observation – the ground). Critically, a football play is a "plan of action" tied to a particular, timely, purpose, usually summarized as long or short yardage.[15] Shields and Rangarajan (2013) argue that it is this tie to "purpose" that make American football plays such a good metaphor. They define a conceptual framework as "the way ideas are organized to achieve a research project's purpose".[13] Like football plays, conceptual frameworks are connected to a research purpose or aim. Explanation[16] is the most common type of research purpose employed in empirical research. The formal hypothesis of a scientific investigation is the framework associated with explanation.[17]

Explanatory research usually focuses on "why" or "what caused" a phenomenon to occur. Formal hypotheses posit possible explanations (answers to the why question) that are tested by collecting data and assessing the evidence (usually quantitative using statistical tests). For example, Kai Huang wanted to determine what factors contributed to residential fires in U.S. cities. Three factors were posited to influence residential fires. These factors (environment, population and building characteristics) became the hypotheses or conceptual framework he used to achieve his purpose – explain factors that influenced home fires in U.S. cities.[18]

Several types of conceptual frameworks have been identified,[13][14][19] and line up with a research purpose in the following ways: