Sandberg & Alvesson (2011) Ways of Constructing Research Questions: Gap-spotting or Problematization?

Abstract

This article examines ways of constructing research questions from existing literature, which are likely to promote the development of interesting and influential theories. We review 52 articles in organization studies and develop a typology of how researchers construct their research questions from existing literature. The most common way across paradigmatic camps is to spot various ‘gaps' in the literature and, based on that, to formulate specific research questions. The dominance of gap-spotting is surprising, given it is increasingly recognized that theory is made interesting and influential when it challenges assumptions that underlie existing literature. The article discusses why assumption-challenging approaches are rare, and it identifies a range of social norms that favour gap-spotting. Finally, the article proposes some ways of constructing research questions that move beyond gap-spotting, and discusses how these ways are likely to promote more interesting and significant theories.

Citation Jorgen Sandberg, Mats Alvesson (2011). Ways of Constructing Research Questions: Gap-spotting or Problematization?. Organization, vol. 18 no. 1, pp. 23–44. DOI

BibTex entry for this article:

BibTex entry for this article:

@article{sandberg2011ways,
author = {Sandberg, Jorgen and Alvesson, Mats},
doi = {10.1177/1350508410372151},
isbn = {1350-5084 1461-7323},
issn = {1350-5084},
journal = {Organization},
number = {1},
pages = {23--44},
pmid = {58127405},
title = {{Ways of Constructing Research Questions: Gap-spotting or Problematization?}},
volume = {18},
year = {2011}
}

Key ideas

Keywords:

INF6001W, Ojelanki, interesting theories, problematization, research methods, research problems, research questions

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