There is a focus on producing so-called interesting research. This essay:
by Madan M. Pillutla and Stefan Thau
They lay out an argument for why interesting findings and counter intuitive facts represent a negative focus for the scientific field. The real goal should be to design and investigate interesting research problems.
This is the conclusion:
For a relevant organizational science that is also scientifically rigorous, the problem should come first, then the theory. The theory itself may be dull or old, but as long as the problem is one that is unsolved and of interest, it is demanding theory that explains it. The problem itself may come in one of three forms:
Two observed facts contradict each other (e.g., people like high performers but people also dislike high performers). A theory which explains both facts, even if very old, is a valuable one and a paper that examines it is a contribution.
A well-established theory is contradicted by a fact (e.g., the theory that people dislike high performers because they threaten their self-esteem is contradicted by the fact that people with high self-esteem also
dislike high performers). The fact identified here is a significant one in Russell’s (1931) terms because it contributes to knowledge (in this case, providing some evidence that the theory is bounded or even wrong).
Two theories that explain the same fact contradict each other in their assumptions. (Theory A and Theory B both explain why people dislike high performers but Theory A assumes it is because high performance threatens people’s self-esteem and Theory B assumes it is because people are envious.) This is a colloquial restatement of the proposition that the examination of alternative explanations with a view towards provisionally accepting the validity of one over the other is good science.
The kinds of problems we describe before are clearly worth studying. They are likely to be important and generative as was the case with the escalation research that we described in an earlier section. Research that puts the problem first is scientific. Such research is likely to be interesting and scholars who examine problems are likely to have an impact.