Determining the Boundaries of the Theory
Boundary of theory is limited to a domain that the theorist is interested in, and it is this theoretical domain that will set the limit and distinguish it from other aspects of the real world that are not addressed. Dubin (1978) suggested two broad boundaries: an open and a closed boundary; an open system is one that interacts with the wider system and the environment under which it operates. Boundaries should be made through the logic of the researcher-theorist. The first boundary of ‘A Theory of Human Capital formation for innovation in the Information Technology (IT) Sector of India’ is first defined as a distinction between all organisational activity for enterprises and HRD and innovation activities in an IT enterprise environment. Although the theory has been specifically modified and refined for the IT sector, but as prior research suggests (Ridoutt et al., 2002), it may be modified further to suit non-IT organisations’ environments. IT sector has been defined as comprising of three sub-sectors: ITSS, ITeS/BPO, and ITHM (NASSCOM, 2004), though it is likely to change as industry evolves through its development stages. As HRD activities are related to all types of organisational activities, this is an open boundary. The second boundary of this theory exists within the domain of HRD activities in IT enterprises. This theory applies to human capital formation within the broader domain of HRD. Human capital formation here is ‘considered to include all forms of skills formation activity relevant to the operation of the enterprise and includes formal and informal training, and on-site and off-site education and training’ (Hayton et al., 1996 as quoted in Ridoutt et al., 2002, p. 27), whereas innovation includes: product process and business model innovation outcomes in the context of the Indian IT industry (Malik, 2013a; Malik & Rowley, 2015). The units of theory fit within the sub-domain of enterprise training, which falls within the broader domain of HRD; hence, this is also
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an open boundary. The boundaries of the model are depicted in Fig. 9.2, where HRD activities in IT enterprises and enterprise training in the Indian IT sector are shown as dotted oval lines. The identification and clarification of boundaries of the theory logically lead us to the last step of the first part of Dubin’s (1978) theory-building approach, that is, specifying the system states of the theory.