Course director: Professor Ali Yakhlef
Course Coordinator: Helene Olofsson

The purpose of research is to challenge and extend existing knowledge, building on it, rather than simply rewriting it. In these terms, researchers devise different ways of generating innovative research questions by adopting various problematisation strategies. These strategies vary from simple gap spotting in extant literature to more sophisticated ways of challenging the very assumptions that underpin such literature. 

The aim of the present course is twofold: first it explores the most common ways of formulating research questions; and second, it seeks to enable doctoral students to formulate well-grounded and effective research problems. From that perspective, the course is an exercise in problem formulation, where by ‘problem formulation’ is meant a process of several rounds of writing, revising and resubmitting exercises. 



Locke, K., and Golden-Bidden, K. Constructing opportunities for contribution: Structuring intertextual coherence and problematizing in organizational studies. Academy of Management Journal, 40, 5 (1997), 1023-1062.

Sandberg, J and M Alvesson (2010) ‘Ways of constructing research questions: gap-spotting or problematization?’ Organization, 15 July.

Hayagreeva, R and Pasmore W A (1989) ‘Knowledge and Interests in Organization Studies: A Conflict of Interpretations’, Organization Studies, Vol. 10, Issue 2, pp 225-239.

Whetten, D A (1989) ‘What Constitutes a Theoretical Contribution?’ Academy of Management Review, Vol. 14, No 4, pp. 490-495.

Punch, F K (2001) Developing Effective Research Proposals, Sage Publications: London.


Readings related to participants’ research areas

In order to optimally profit from this course, participants are advised to be, as far as possible, well-versed in the literature that is related to their research area.

Spring 2018 (7.5 ECTS)

All sessions are in The Management Room (Room 15:305/bldg. 15, 3rd floor)

Date                    Time         

January 29th         13—15              

February 5th          13—15             

February 19th         13—16           

February 26th         13—16             

March 5th              13—15         

March 19th             13—16   

April 3rd                  13—16