Sample Masters Project Management Essay

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Theoretical Framework in Project Management


The theoretical framework refers to the refinement of existing theories either by an in-depth analysis of the current data or by collecting new data to test other theoretical perspectives. A sound theoretical framework assures the reader of the credibility of the study. However, developing an excellent theoretical framework is one of the most challenging and most important aspects of a research process (Grant and Osanloo, 2014). A theoretical framework acts as a foundation upon which the rationale of the research rests.

It provides both clarity and a focus to the study. According to Mertens (1998, p.3), “theoretical framework has implications for every decision made in the research process.” Hence, identifying a relevant and sound theoretical framework since the research’s inception is imperative for successful completion.

Before finalizing a framework, one needs to understand the topic and identify the key variables truly. The next step is to develop clear and concise constructs of the study, i.e., the problem statement, the purpose, significance, and the research questions.

These four constructs must be aligned, or else the theoretical framework will crumble. When developing the framework, it is essential to review all the theories developed in the respective area and consider alternative theories that contradict your perspective.

However, while developing a theoretical framework, the pertinent issue is to understand that the framework’s purpose is to bridge the existing literature gap and not simply summarize the existing literature about a theory.

Theoretical Framework Based on Change Theory

Change theory is a “theory-based” approach regarding the planning, implementation, or appraisal of change at any level, be it a change in an organization or a change in the community. The roots of the change theory can be traced back to Kirkpatrick during the 1960s.

Further research and development of the theory of change can help revolutionize both the private and the public sectors. There is ample room for improvement in almost all the departments ranging from education and health to social change regarding the public sector.

Several models can be used while studying the theory of change. In a deductive model, existing research is used to collect the data and its results. This secondary data, along with the results, is critically analyzed to understand how the change was brought about and its implications. In a deductive approach, the commonly used method is an extensive literature review.

On the other hand, an inductive approach aims to develop new theories in the existing pool. For this purpose, observations are made by the researcher about the phenomenon or their knowledge and assumptions.

The collected primary data is then analyzed to see if a new change theory can be developed or not. If yes, then extensive experimentation is carried out to test the validity of the newly coined theory.

The data is usually qualitative and collected by questionnaires, surveys, or interviews scheduled with the relevant personnel. A collaborative model, perhaps the most effective approach, combines both the deductive and inductive approaches.

The researcher reviews the previously conducted studies to identify the gap and then uses it to develop new theories in the field. Project managers often successfully implement change but are unaware that face-to-face interviews with these managers help document these steps for future reference and refinement.

However, before initiating the study, the researcher needs to decide upon the approach they plan to take and devise the methodology accordingly.

Theoretical Framework Based on Management Theory

Research conducted in the management field analyzes the outcomes of the managers’ actions rather than the system itself (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe, and Jackson, 2012, p.2). The management scope is quite broad and is usually viewed under seven different perspectives – classical, human relations, decision theory, work activity, competencies, critical, and process.

However, management cannot be limited to these seven perspectives. There is an ongoing debate about further research in the field of management. The experts cannot agree upon whether the research should help develop the academic theories or whether the research should yield practical solutions that plague both the public and the private sector.

Effective management is integral for any organization to grow and survive in today’s turbulent economic conditions. Hence continuous development in this field is necessary.

Each of the seven theories above deals with a particular and distinctive aspect of management. Thus, further investigation regarding any one of these theories will employ a different methodology.

When researching management, one needs to take stock of their research skills and be aware of the prevailing political situation and the underlying assumptions regarding management. While each theory has proved to be quite helpful, it still has some limitations. The purpose of conducting a new study is to analyze the existing research and cover the gap critically.

However, analyzing a single theory will not help paint a clear and complete picture of the situation. Therefore, it is imperative that the researcher analyses at least two or more approaches; in that perspective, to gain precise results. Even though theories are pretty explicit, they are still open to further examination.

The research methodology in such studies is entirely based upon the selection of the theory. For example, suppose a researcher is working on the decision theory.

In that case, they are more inclined to gather the quantitative data that will help improve the outcomes instead of the narratives or personal experiences when analyzing the socially constructed activity perspective (Easterby-Smith, Thorpe and Jackson, 2012, p.5). However, it is safe to conclude that selecting a particular theory decides the research methodology to be used.

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There are several theories about one single field. Therefore, the researcher needs to examine all the aspects before finalizing a perspective carefully. The selected theoretical framework must justify the four constructs; the problem, the purpose, the significance, and the research questions designed for the proposed study. Otherwise, it will merely be what Sarter (2006, p. 494) describes as “limited uselessness of findings and conclusions.”


Laing, K. and Todd, L. (eds) (2015) Theory-based Methodology: Using theories of change in educational development, research and evaluation. Research Centre for Learning and Teaching, Newcastle University.


Mertens, D. (1998). Research methods in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative and qualitative approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Statistics Solutions. (2017). Theoretical Framework – Statistics Solutions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Apr. 2017].

Simson, M. K. & Goes, J., 2011. Developing a Theoretical Framework. Dissertation and Scholarly Research: Recipes for Success.

Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. & Jackson, P. (2012) Management research. 4th ed. London: SAGE Publications.

Nilsen, P. (2015). Making sense of implementation theories, models, and frameworks. Implementation Science, 10(1).

Sarter, M. (2006). The consequences of atheoretical, task-driven experimentation: Theoretical comment on Paban, Chambon, Jaffard, and Alescio-Lavtier (2005), 120(2), 493-494.

Munhall, P., & Chenail, R. (2008). Qualitative research proposals and reports: A guide (3rd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Stewart, J., Harte, V. and Sambrook, S. (2011). What is a theory? Journal of European Industrial Training, 35(3), pp.221-229.

Frequently Asked Questions

Tips for an excellent master’s essay:

  1. Clearly define your thesis or argument.
  2. Thoroughly research your topic.
  3. Organize and outline your essay.
  4. Provide strong evidence and examples.
  5. Maintain a coherent and logical structure.
  6. Revise and proofread meticulously.