Habitat and Habitus: Boxed-in versus Box-Breaking Research

Mats Alvesson, Joergen Sandberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (SciVal)


This paper argues 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-987
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration


  • box research
  • box-breaking research specialization
  • boxed-in
  • knowledge
  • production
  • social organization of science
  • theory development


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