Understanding The Theory Building (Practice)


The definition of a theory according to scholars

 The theories that result consist of “plausible relationships proposed among concepts and sets of concepts” (Strauss and Corbin 1994, 278 in (Haig 1995)

Kitcher ([2001], p. 170) in (Azzouni 2014) writes: Instead of thinking about the virtues and vices of whole theories, we should distinguish the hypotheses that are genuinely put to work, claiming that the success of a theory provides grounds for thinking that those hypotheses- the hypotheses that characterize’ working posits’-are approximately true.

(1967, 31) Glaser and Strauss choose to emphasize “theory as process; that is, theory as an ever-developing entity, not as a perfected product.” In (Haig 1995)

A set of concepts, definitions, relationships and assumptions, that project a systematic view of a phenomenon. It may consist of one or more relatively specific and concrete concepts and prepositions that purport to account for or organize some phenomenon (Barnum 1988) in (Khoshnood, Rayyani, and Tirgari 2018).

What are the components of theory:

  • Concepts: ideas and mental images that help to describe phenomena (Alligood and Marriner- Tomey 2002)
  • Definitions: convey the general meaning of the concepts
  • Assumptions: statements that describe concepts
  • Phenomenon: an aspect of reality that can be consciously sense or experience (Meleis 2012)

So according to the definition of theories, as I mentioned above, my definition of theory is a set of concepts, definitions, assumptions, and the phenomenon that interconnected. There are two questions for this part, theory’s definition according to scholars and example of theory building from my research. I divided the answer to section A and B

Definition of the theory according to Fiorina, Kellstedt and Whitten, Fearon and Laitin and Hinich and Munger

A. (Formal Models in Political Science Authors ( s ): Morris P. Fiorina Source : American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 19, No . 1 ( Feb ., 1975 ), pp. 133-159 Published by  Midwest Political Science Association Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/st 2016) explains about formal models. According to Fiorina, a theory consists of a minimum of three elements which are primitive, concept and assumption. Primitive is an undefined term; a concept is defined with primitive or other previously defined terms while the assumption is underlying the particular language in which the model is formulated and usually others of a behavioral and institutional nature. This explanation is very simple and the necessary condition of theory building by the definition there is no need of empirical building.

B. Moving on the next steps in theory building after primitive, concept and assumption is explanation and causality. (Kellstedt and Whitten 2009) try to introduce the concepts of interest become variables that causally linked together by theories. According to Kellstedt and Whitten theory is a tentative conjecture about the causes of some phenomenon of interest. Once a theory has been developed, we can restate it into one or more testable hypotheses. A hypothesis is a theory-based statement about a relationship that we expect to observe. A theory is a conjecture that the independent variable is causally related to the dependent variable. The steps in theory building according to Kellstedt and Whitten are causal theory→ hypothesis→ empirical test→ evaluation of hypothesis→ evaluation of causal theory →scientific knowledge. Bestowing to Kellstedt and Whitten models should be simple and good theory should be causal, empirical, nonnormative, general and parsimonious.

C. There are three clusters (classifications) in the formal model.  First is the rational vs. behavioral/psychological model the examples of the rational model are decision-theoretic models, game theoretic models, spatial model. The second dimension along which to array models is micro-macro the basic analytic unit. The example of micro-macro approach is individuals, or groups, classes, nations, etc. The last model is static and dynamic. (Fearon and Laitin 2018) explanation about interethnic cooperation is part of game theoretic models. The game theory consists of two individuals or more, how the individual decision shape by other decision. Fearon and Laitin believe in the importance of causal mechanism. According to Fearon and Laitin theory of interethnic cooperation starts from individual-level problems of opportunism rather than from group-level animosities, as do existing rationalist and psychological theories of ethnic relations. By developing everyday individual interaction within and across groups can be supported by two essential ways; spiral equilibrium and in group policy. There are three important elements in game theory which are players, preference and rule of the game (the payoff among players)

D. The third example in the rational model is the spatial model one of the scholars are (Hinich and Munger 1997). Hinich and Munger propose that theories must be abstractions or simplifications from an unmanageably complex reality, whether those theories are stated mathematically, verbally, or in terms of statistical measurements. The basis of any theory is a logical construction, following from premises or assumptions, that can be used to forecast events in the future. Spatial competition is a simple and intuitively plausible model of political choice. The basic spatial model was originally adapted from economics, but the modern spatial theory of voting is an analysis of politics. The primary assumption is that policy positions of candidates or parties can be usefully conceived as points in a “space”.

Compare with to the four my theory does not describe tentative conjecture, the relationship of causal explanation, simplification of complex reality and the forecast events in the future.

My previous research entitled “The analysis of city branding formulation in East Java Indonesia” conducted in 2017 along with my colleague Ratnaningsih Damayanti and Irma Fitriana Ulfah. Research question: how is the process of city branding formulation in Malang Municipality, Malang Regency and Tulungagung Regency? The method of research is qualitative. Data collection using interview, documentation, and observation. The theoretical part divided into two parts, the first part is agenda setting and the second part is political branding.

Agenda setting is the process of social issue or problems and alternative solution gain or loses the attention of policy actor. The process of city branding formulation almost the same with policy-making process. According to the theory, there are two ways to formulate the branding which are top-down and bottom up. The top-down process is the process of branding formulation where the local government make the initiative to create the branding and dominate the branding process then enacted the law. In the top-down formulation, the government usually involving outsider like a consultant. While the bottom-up formulation, the branding initiative came from the public such as from business sector, media or community, branding that has been embedded in the public then adopted by the local government to be official branding.

In response to the theory building in this research, we found that the process of branding formulation is not only two way as mentioned before which are top down and bottom up, but we find that there are a mixed process and top-down branding formulation from the central government. Thus, from two processes we contribute two other possible way in formulating the branding. The process of mixed formulation branding, the initiative can come whether from government nor from the public. Usually, the initiative is from the government. In our case, we found that government creates some branding alternative then offer a competition. The government will ask the public for the best branding. Our second finding in branding formulation in some city, The Ministry of Tourism offered some city to be part of national branding. To be in line with the national branding the ministry will choose the appropriate branding to the local government.

Secondly in theoretical part in the research use political branding. According to Wasesa (2011) political branding is how to do branding as a political activity both in the context of political party or politic itself.  Branding can help politician or party to find better positioning for the constituent include in campaign and engagement. There are two values gain by the customer from branding which are value-added and used value. Despite the theory created for a politician and political party our research tries to apply the theory in the context of city branding because city branding is similar with political branding which involved political process, instead of a politician and political party in city branding the actor is government, public, business sector, and community.

Political branding consists of five elements: innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept, and customer experience.

  1. Innovation: Dare to create a new product is one of the strengths in building brand value and after being imitative by other brands, the pioneer brand must be able to develop stronger new products, therefore consumers will understand that the brand is indeed leading in its product. Create innovate political programs. An innovative program that continuous and measurables will be able to win the sympathy of the voters or public.
  2. Brand association: it will be easier for people to evoke with the new develop political brands if the brand associated with something relevant in the community. It will be excessive if the values are linked as a solution needed by the community.
  3. Product renewable function: Like product innovation, a brand (political /commercial) must apprise its product functions to avoid consumer saturation and prevent consumers from switching to competitors. It’s important to renew the programs every three months
  4. Paradoxical concept: one of the keys to making the paradoxical concept is to be courageously different. The unique paradoxical concept will trigger more public attention than just ordinary concepts.
  5. Customer experience: The interaction between consumers and producers is not just the interaction of buying and selling, especially just fulfilling physical needs but also their psychological needs. The more remarkable the experience with the brand, the brand value will be stronger and embedded with consumers

Our finding from the field is that innovation is the key to successful city branding. And many cities failed to describe the uniqueness of their city. The failures come from an inability to distinguish the differentiation the city from another city. The theory building for the theory from our perspective are firstly innovation does not have to start from zero with the new product that had never been existing before. It can be incremental innovation from the previous product because in the public sector it is very difficult to create a new product that never exists before. Secondly, after product renewable promotion process is necessary especially in social media not only in conventional commercial media like newspaper, television, magazine, billboard, official website. Thirdly, the concept of product renewable function and the paradoxical concept is relatively close, so we suggest it should be merged with the paradoxical concept and put promotion process after paradoxical concept.

Even though there are two theories analyses in the research for the purpose of this assignment in part B, I will focus on describing the political branding theory that applied for city branding.

B.1 Theory according to my definition

My definition of theory is a set of concepts, definitions, assumptions, and phenomenon that interconnected. In political branding theory for me, the concept and definition are same which is political branding is political activity. The assumption is with five elements of political branding which are innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept, and customer experience will create a great city branding political to find better positioning to promote the city. The interconnected phenomenon is with great city branding, the economic condition in the city will rise.

B.2 Theory according to Fiorina in my case

Fiorina mentioned 3 important part of theory; primitive, concept and assumption. The five elements of political branding contain the primitive, concept and assumption. The primitive is branding is a symbol. The concept is political branding is political activity. The assumption is with five elements of political branding which are innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept, and customer experience will create a great city branding political to find better positioning to promote the city.

B.3 Theory according to Kellstedt and Whitten in my case

According to Kellstedt and Whitten theory is a conjecture that the independent variable is causally related to the dependent variable, in the context of Wasesa theory about political branding the conjecture is with innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept and customer experience as an independent variable will influence the branding. In a sense, if a person/political party/city wants to create great branding they need to implement the five elements of political branding.

Kellstedt and Whitten imply good theory consists of simple, causal, empirical, nonnormative, general and parsimonious. Political branding theory used in the research for me was not simple, there are five elements need to be addressed and the process was complicated. Political branding consists of five elements: innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept, and customer experience. The causality is innovation will make the city salient compared with other, more salient the branding will associate with the product, then the branding will be effective and create a paradoxical process and create a memorable experience for comer. The empirical part of the theory related to the product itself. For a city to have branding they need specific product or service offered. Non-normative related with the innovation, because the nature of the innovation is the distinction from one product to another. The theory implies parsimonious but not general because the first condition of the theory is innovation. Innovation is a specific product, because of the nature of innovation itself then the theory cannot general.

B.4 Theory according to Fearon and Laitin in my case

Fearon and Laitin indicate theory consist of causal mechanism, spiral equilibrium, and in group policy.

Political branding consists of five elements: innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept, and customer experience. The theory explains the causal mechanism. The process of city branding should start with innovation from the city. The city needs a specific product or unique process which only offered by their place, this specific product or service will create a brand association, product or service deliverance necessary to be evaluated regularly to be refined. The regular evaluation by the city will create a paradoxical process and satisfaction from the customer experience. The spiral equilibrium from the theory related with the five elements can be adjusted by local government. The process of innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept and customer experience equality responsible for the successfulness of city branding. Therefore, local government cannot rely on one process but ignore another process. The ingroup policy related with how government can lead the public and business sector to promote the product and service. The stronger the promotion strategy can create effective branding.

B.5 Theory according to Hinich and Munger in my case

Hinich and Munger theory is simplification, logical construction and forecasts the future.

Simplification of the theory is the innovative product or service will create great branding. The logical construction from the theory is with an innovative product will create a strong association with the city, the local government needs to oversee competitor and follower and make sure their product renews and refined. The continues evaluation process will produce a paradoxical/unique process, that eventually memorable for comer. According to the theory if the local government continues to do product renewable function, paradoxical concept and customer experience process the city branding will remain to survive and compete.

My research conducted in three places: Tulungagung municipality, Malang municipality, and Malang city. Every place has their own institution regarding the city branding.

No.

Places

Institution

1. Tulungagung municipality -     Decentralization

-     Regulations

-     Culture

-     Promotion strategies

-     Budget

2. Malang municipality -     Decentralization

-     Regulations

-     Culture

-     Promotion strategies

-     Budget

3. Malang city -     Decentralization

-     Regulations

-     Culture

-     Promotion strategies

-     Budget

Diermeier and Krehbiel (2003) make a fundamental equation of politics as follow (Preferences * Institutions = Outcomes)

There are three preferences in the research:

  1. The behavior of people and staff that pro with the branding
  2. The behavior of people and staff that against the branding
  3. The behavior of people and staff that does not care about the branding

No.

Places

Equation

1. Tulungagung municipality (Actor pro, actor con, actor neutral) x (decentralization, regulations, culture, promotion strategies, budget) = increase in tourist, increase in promotion.
2. Malang municipality (Actor pro, actor con, actor neutral) x (decentralization, regulations, culture, promotion strategies, budget) = increase in tourist, growth in income, employment opportunity, infrastructure and facilities development.
3. Malang city (Actor pro, actor con, actor neutral) x (decentralization, regulations, culture, promotion strategies, budget) = increase in tourist, growth in income, employment opportunity, infrastructure and facilities development.

Diermeier and Krehbiel describe a political institution is a set of contextual features in a collective choice setting that defines constraints on, and opportunities for, individual behavior in the setting. According to (Diermeier and Krehbiel 2003) critical relation between institution and outcomes is behavior. The institution as decision making, consequently individual behavior inside the institution will affect the decision and eventually affect the outcomes but as an institution, the behavior will be collective behavior, not the individual. Diermeier and Krehbiel argue that institutionalism as a method. Based on the method showed in figure 1 and figure 2, we can assume institution as a process or a set of processes which set behavior.

Hence there is no essential difference between robust behavioral regularities and institutions since the adoption and maintenance of institutions itself are functions of behavior in collective choice processes. They also explain about institutionalism is modeling decision that related to power. The lower institution has their own limitation and constraint by the higher institution. Since institutionalist identifies them self as a rational choice because of that their decision will also maximizing the utility.

As of the explanation above that, it is a methodological inevitability to hold fixed the behavioral postulate. By that definition the theory can help me understand the theory building to this extent:

Firstly, from the table above, we can see the importance of institutions to achieve the outcome. Not because of the equation itself the result will be positive because there is no negative symbol in the equation. Because the institution can affect behavior, policy, and power, in this case, is city branding.

Secondly, I can understand that I need to hold fixed behavioral postulate. From the research, I can describe there are three behaviors in the context of city branding. The first group is the one that supports the city branding, the second group against the city branding and the last group does not care about the branding. Although there are three different behaviors, as Diemeier and Krehbiel said the important is a collective choice process. Although there is some of the staff in the tourism office and local tourism business sector does not care about the city branding, but the branding eventually implemented. Why, because with city branding as a method of a campaign or advertising the city will maximizing the utility which are an increase in tourist, growth in income, employment opportunity, infrastructure and facilities development.

Thirdly, related with power the tourism office as the institution has their own limitation which is the hierarchy. The tourism office is subordinate of the mayor, so the final decision making is the mayor. The mayor also constraint by the power of governor as superior. This can explain some of the difficulties face by the tourism office to gain maximizing utility, but it does not explain everything or as the main cause.

Related to the theory and theory building from Wasesa theory about political branding. Let me remind his definition of political branding is how to do branding as a political activity both in the context of political party or politic itself. Political branding consists of five elements: innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept, and customer experience. It is important to explain further the power relation regarding the city branding, which actor or institution is the best too involved in the process of formulating innovation as the first steps in political branding. Is the level of the tourism office power enough to put city branding gain its maximal utility? If the tourism office can implement innovation, brand association, product renewable function, paradoxical concept and customer experience to what extent the tourism office behavior can affect other institution to do the same? Every office has been compartmentalized with their own job description. There will be competition among institution to be the prioritize because of the budget limit. Wasesa needs to explain deeper why is innovation more important things to do compare with other problem issued by other institution.

After further discussion, my understanding of definition on theory change into:

Before

After

A set of concepts, definitions, assumptions, and phenomenon that interconnected A tentative conjecture of definition, assumption, and a simplification of a complex phenomenon which conducted by actor or institution that causally related that can be used to forecast events in the future

References:

Azzouni, Jody. 2014. “Theory, Realism.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 55, No. 3 (Sep. 2004), pp. 371- 392 55(3): 371–92.

Diermeier, Daniel, and Keith Krehbiel. 2003. “Institutionalism as a Methodology.” Journal of Theoretical Politics 15(2): 123–44.

Fearon, James D, and David D Laitin. 1996. “Explaining Interethnic Cooperation Author ( s ): James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin Source : The American Political Science Review, Vol. 90, No . 4 ( Dec ., 1996 ), Pp. 715-735 Published by  American Political Science Association Stable URL : Http.” 90(4): 715–35.

“Formal Models in Political Science Authors ( s ): Morris P. Fiorina Source : American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 19, No . 1 ( Feb ., 1975 ), Pp. 133-159 Published by  Midwest Political Science Association Stable URL : Http://Www.Jstor.Org/St.” 2016. 19(1): 133–59.

Haig, Brian D. 1995. “Grounded Theory as Scientific Method.” Philosophy of Education 28(1): 1–11.

Hinich, Melvin J., and Michael C. Munger. 1997. “Analytical Politics.” http://ebooks.cambridge.org/ref/id/CBO9781139174725.

Kellstedt, Paul M, and Guy D Whitten. 2009. Political Science Research. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Khoshnood, Zohreh, Masoud Rayyani, and Batool Tirgari. 2018. “Theory Analysis for Pender’s Health Promotion Model (HPM) by Barnum’s Criteria: A Critical Perspective.” International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health (January).

Meleis, Afaf Ibrahim. 2012. Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippicott Williams & Wilkins Theoretical Nursing Development, and Progress

Category: Thoughts