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date: 22 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter shows how mixed methods can be used to deal with challenges of relating empirical data to theoretical concepts in empirical research. Three strategies of theory use (application, testing, and building of theories) and their problems are discussed: applying theory to empirical data may lead to arbitrary results, a deductive model of theory testing may fail due to a lack of auxiliary assumptions, and theory building will go astray if the role of previous theoretical knowledge is not acknowledged. The role of mixed methods designs in theory building and testing is also discussed: in designs focused on exploration, theoretical categories can be developed with qualitative methods and their generalizability can be examined with quantitative methods. In other forms of mixed methods designs, quantitative data can be used to identify empirical explananda and to construct sampling frames for a subsequent qualitative study in which quantitative findings are explained.

Keywords: theory building, theory testing, empirical research, theory use, empirical data, explanation, induction, deduction

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