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All researchers want to produce interesting and influential theories. A key step in all theory development is formulating innovative research questions that will result in interesting and significant research.

Traditional textbooks on research methods tend to ignore, or gloss over, actual ways of constructing research questions. In this text, Alvesson and Sandberg develop a problematization methodology for identifying and challenging the assumptions underlying existing theories and for generating research questions that can lead to more interesting and influential theories, using examples from across the social sciences. Established methods of generating research questions in the social sciences tend to focus on ‘gap-spotting’, which means that existing literature remains largely unchallenged. The authors show the dangers of conventional approaches, providing detailed ideas for how one can work through ...

Research Questions: A Core Ingredient in Developing Interesting Theories
Research questions: A core ingredient in developing interesting theories

Research in the social sciences takes many different forms and is guided by several different objectives. Some researchers aim for prediction and explanation while others search for understanding. Sometimes empirical description and accuracy are central; sometimes these are subordinated to theoretical ambitions. In certain cases researchers try to develop theory through careful empirical investigations; in others the fieldwork is exploratory and aims to trigger theoretical inspiration; and in some instances empirical investigation is bypassed all together by pure armchair theorization. Despite the huge variety in research styles within the social sciences, there is broad consensus about the importance of generating original and significant theoretical contributions. A theoretical contribution ...

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