Workshop Series: Mats Alvesson and Jorgen Sandberg
In this presentation we argue that scholarly work is increasingly situated in narrowly circumscribed areas of study, which are encouraging specialization, incremental adding-to-the-literature contributions and a blinkered mindset. Researchers invest considerable time and energy in these specialized areas in order to maximize their productivity and career prospects. We refer to this way of doing research and structuring careers as boxed-in research. While such research is normally portrayed as a template for good scholarship, it gives rise to significant problems in management and organization studies, as it tends to generate a shortage of novel and influential ideas. We propose box-breaking research as a strategy for how researchers and institutions can move away from the prevalence of boxed-in research and, thus, be able to generate more imaginative and influential research results. We suggest three versions: box changing, box jumping, and, more ambitiously, box-transcendence.
About the Authors
Mats Alvesson is Professor of Business Administration at the University of Lund, Sweden and at University of Queensland Business School, Australia. Research interests include critical theory, gender, power, management of professional service (knowledge intensive) organizations, leadership, identity, organizational image, organizational culture and symbolism, qualitative methods and philosophy of science. Recent books include The Triumph of Emptiness (Oxford University Press 2013), Qualitative Research and Theory Development (Sage 2011, with Dan Kärreman), Constructing Research Questions. (Sage 2013, w J Sandberg) Interpreting Interviews (Sage 2011), Metaphor we lead by. Understanding leadership in the real world. (Routledge 2011, ed with Andre Spicer), Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies (Oxford University Press, edited with Todd Bridgman and Hugh Willmott). Understanding gender and organizations (Sage, 2009, 2nd ed with Yvonne Billing), Reflexive methodology (Sage, 2009, 2nd ed, with Kaj Skoldberg).
Jörgen Sandberg is Professor in the School of Business at the University of Queensland, Australia. His research interests include competence and learning in organizations, leadership, practice-based theories, qualitative research methods and the philosophical underpinnings of organizational research. He is currently carrying out research on practice theory in organization studies, frameworks and methodologies for developing more interesting and relevant theories and sense making in organizations. His work has appeared in numerous journals including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Management Studies, Organisational Research Methods and Organization Studies. He is also the author of numerous books and book chapters on the above topics published by Sage, Thomson, Routledge, and Kluwer.