Ways of constructing research questions: Gap-spotting or problematization?

Sandberg, Jörgen and Alvesson, Mats (2011) Ways of constructing research questions: Gap-spotting or problematization?. Organization, 18 23-24: 1-22. doi:10.1177/1350508410372151

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Author Sandberg, Jörgen
Alvesson, Mats
Title Ways of constructing research questions: Gap-spotting or problematization?
Journal name Organization   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1350-5084
Publication date 2011-01
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/1350508410372151
Open Access Status
Volume 18
Issue 23-24
Start page 1
End page 22
Total pages 22
Editor Martin Parker
Robyn Thomas
Place of publication London, U.K
Publisher Sage Publications
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Subject 150310 Organisation and Management Theory
910402 Management
Formatted 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.
© The Author(s) 2010
Keyword Interesting theories
Research methods
Research problems
Research questions
Theory development
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online 15 July 2010.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Faculty of Business, Economics and Law -- Publications
Official 2011 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 42 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 66 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 09 Nov 2010, 14:55:28 EST by Karen Morgan on behalf of UQ Business School