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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 ...

A Critical Evaluation of Gap-Spotting Research: Does it Lead to Interesting Theories?
A critical evaluation of gap-spotting research: Does it lead to interesting theories?

From the analysis in the previous chapter we can conclude that gap-spotting is by far the most common method researchers employ in constructing research questions within the social sciences (at least in management, education, psychology, sociology). The aim of this chapter is to evaluate critically the extent to which generating research questions through gap-spotting is likely to lead to the development of interesting and influential theories. We begin by reviewing and discussing the theories of interestingness, that is, the bodies of literature that investigate what makes a theory interesting and influential. In the light of the theories of interestingness, we critically evaluate ...

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