Notwithstanding the ongoing academic debate over what constitutes theory, researchers generally agree that the role of theory in research is to provide a formal and systematic explanation for a specific set of phenomena and, more specifically, the phenomena’s nature and behavior. To this extent, the primary role of theory is to provide a framework for discovering and investigating explanations and predictions that help researchers to organize and navigate the complexity of the external world as we experience and observe it.

Many researchers describe theory in terms of identifying relationships among a set of constructs and variables that provide better explanations about the nature of an observed phenomenon. Constructs cannot be directly observed (e.g., cohesion), while variables can be directly observed and, therefore, measured empirically (e.g., number ...

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