Academic journal article Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning

Assessment of the Use of Theories within the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning and the Contribution of the Family Financial Socialization Conceptual Model

Academic journal article Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning

Assessment of the Use of Theories within the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning and the Contribution of the Family Financial Socialization Conceptual Model

Article excerpt

Introduction

An academic discipline is defined by the nature of its research and the theoretical grounding on which that research is organized. A challenge for a discipline in its infancy is conceptual precision and consistency. It often borrows and adopts conceptual frameworks and theories from other disciplines until researchers develop conceptual frameworks specifically focused on the essence of the discipline. The purpose of this article is twofold. First, it assesses and interprets the use of theory within the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning from its inception in 1990 to 2012. Second, to fill a theoretical gap discovered in that assessment, hypotheses are proposed for the Family Financial Socialization (FFS) conceptual model which was recently introduced out of an extensive critical review of the literature (Gudmunson & Danes, 2011). FFS is a conceptual model that specifically focuses on the essence of the discipline and projects the discipline beyond an individual and cognitive theoretical orientation. Proposing testable hypotheses is the next stage of development of the conceptual model.

The Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning (JFCP) is one of the main publishing outlets of the personal finance discipline (Schuchardt, Bagwell, Bailey, DeVaney, Grable, Leech, Lown, Sharpe, & Xiao, 2007). The first issue was published in 1990 and its twenty-third volume was published in 2012. The journal's aim is to disseminate scholarly research related to the financial decision making of individuals and families, financial education and counseling techniques, and the education of professional financial educators, counselors, and planners. The publication serves the needs of an international research community. In 2010, Ji, Hanna, Lawrence, and Miller performed a content analysis highlighting research and publication trends across the two decades of the journal's existence. However, even though theory is critical to the foundation of any discipline, to date, no one has assessed the use of theory in the research published in the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning. The objectives of this article are to perform this task and to discuss a conceptual framework that is being developed specifically for the personal and family finance discipline.

Definitional Groundwork

Determining the theoretical grounding for a research study is of critical importance because the practical applicability of a theory is dependent on the content of its theoretical propositions. Since the Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning is an interdisciplinary journal, it has drawn on a number of theories across several disciplines. Because terminology varies across disciplines, one of the first tasks in assessing theory use of in the journal was to clarify terminology that would be used in the assessment process. Many people use the terms "conceptual framework" and "theory" interchangeably despite important differences between the two. To create clarity of meaning in assessing the journal's use of theory over time, we used Sztompka's (1974) criteria to distinguish between a conceptual framework and theory. Sztompka (1974) is the sole source used in the assessment because his conceptualizations of conceptual framework, theory, the stages of development from the former to the latter, and the requirements for an adequate theory are clear, relevant, and applicable in the context of this article.

As we examine the trends and gaps in theories used in JFCP, it is important to evaluate the theories and conceptual frameworks in terms of conceptual precision, completeness, and level of abstraction. Based on Sztompka's criteria, those aspects are critical in guiding research. Later in the article, when the Family Financial Socialization conceptual model is introduced, Sztompka's stages of theory development and seven requirements for an adequate theory serve to identify the current stage of development of the FFS model and steps to be taken to develop it into a full-fledged theory. …

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