ABSTRACT

The application of the Living Systems Framework (LSF; D. Ford, 1987) described in this chapter underlines the utility of the framework for organizing and supplementing existing knowledge and ideas, thereby enhancing the precision and scope of a particular study’s conceptualization and design. In the present research, the initial literature review and formulation of hypotheses was conducted without drawing upon the specific constructs and propositions of the LSF. Theories of socialization and motivation (in particular, Bandura’s (1977a) self-efficacy theory) provided a number of relevant ideas and led to a useful preliminary conceptual framework. However, this conceptualization was limited in scope and basically consisted of an unorganized set of hypothesized relationships between several theoretically interesting constructs and the dependent variables of interest. Applying the LSF to these ideas made it possible to better understand the potential relationships among the predictor variables and to better appreciate their broader theoretical significance. In addition, although the LSF was not used to replace the more specific theories relevant to the topic under investigation, it did point out a number of potentially significant processes that were missing from the preliminary conceptualization of the study. Thus, this chapter illustrates the usefulness of the LSF (a) as a device for capturing the strength of existing theory and research, (b) as a framework for interpreting this information, and (c) as a heuristic tool for expanding upon existing frameworks to generate new hypotheses.