The word theory in the dictionary is used as a synonym for idea, principle, conjecture, or speculation. The breadth of the dictionary definition of theory is paralleled by its multitude of definitions across various academic fields. Nevertheless, researchers generally agree that a theory represents a formal and systematic explanation of the nature and/or behavior of a specific set of phenomena. To put it simply, a theory is used to explain how and why a phenomenon occurs and predicts its recurrence.

Understanding what constitutes theory and what does not is important for researchers to discriminate between good and bad theory, and to guide them in their theory development efforts.

Significant academic debate has revolved around discriminating between what constitutes theory and what does not, in an attempt to ...

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