Aligning Process Questions, Perspectives, and Explanations

Andrew H. Van de Ven, Harry Sminia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


This essay describes different kinds of research questions, process perspectives, and types of explanations to argue pragmatically that the quality and coherence of process research will be enhanced when these ingredients of process research are aligned. A distinction is made between questions about process past (what has happened?), process present (what is going on?), process future (where are we going?), and process action (what should we do?); which are then associated respectively with the historical reconstruction, becoming/emergent, unfolding, and developing/ control process perspectives. Each of these research questions requires a specific and distinct type of explanation, in terms of a unique sequence of events, a key event, a generalizable pattern of events, or a social mechanism. A hierarchy of logical relationships between questions and explanations is discussed, leading to implications for management research as well as management practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConstructing Identity in and around Organizations
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191738388
ISBN (Print)9780199640997
StatePublished - May 24 2012


  • Process explanations
  • Process perspectives
  • Process questions
  • Process research methods


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