Asking Questions in Research: Its Importance

Recently, one of the readers in asked me to help her come up with her conceptual framework. Many of the readers keep on asking questions like this, so I thought I should write this article.

She noted the words abusive supervision, organization justice, and CWBs. Perhaps, she assumed that I am familiar with what she is saying. My knowledge cuts across boundaries. But there are always things that go beyond what I know as any normal person would.

How would I address such a question? I describe the steps I do below namely define the terms first, read until you achieve understanding, and apply a little insight based on the readings.

The Need to Define Terms

Terms need to be defined to facilitate understanding. I am not familiar with CWBs, but a quick look using Google revealed that it stands for. CWB is acronym for Counterproductive Work Behavior.

My understanding is not yet complete. Counterproductive work behavior prompted me to further look it up. I could deduce that CWB has something to do with employee performance. I need to confirm what I have in mind.

HR Zone defines counterproductive work behavior as actions by employees that go against the goals and aims of their employer. In addition, HR Zone defines organization justice as the employee’s perception of the supervisor’s or employer’s fairness in dealing with them. Abusive supervision, on the other hand, refers to subordinates’ perceptions of the extent to which their supervisors engage in the prolonged display of nonphysical hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors.

Examples of abusive supervision include public ridiculing and belittling, taking credit for subordinates’ work, giving subordinates the silent treatment, and invading subordinates’ privacy (Tepper 2000).

I understood the issue better after reading a few minutes more. The issue has something to do with organizational management and the response of the employees to the employer’s or supervisor’s management style. It’s a simple stimulus-response, action-reaction relationship. Zhang et al. (2019) conducted a meta-analysis about these factors.

Asking Questions in Research

The process of inquiry, or asking questions, help me understand things. As I get to read more about the keywords given by the reader, the issue becomes more apparent to me.

asking questions
Asking questions help you discover new things.

Hence, asking the right questions, defining concepts, and providing a little insight helps us construct relations between variables that make up an abstract concept. It would be challenging indeed to think about something you do not understand fully well unless you educate yourself about the issue at hand.

We learn by asking questions and finding answers to those questions. That’s the learning process. That’s what we do in research. We re-search something unclear or beyond our understanding. We get answers when we ask questions.

Hence, in the process of developing a conceptual framework, a researcher must read the literature, identify unstudied or little known areas (the gap in knowledge), come up with your hypothesis, and test it. Knowing past studies will help you come up with your own set of questions that only a rigorous investigation can answer.

Keep on asking questions as you go along, and answers will come your way.


Tepper, B. J. (2000). Consequences of abusive supervision. Academy of management journal, 43(2), 178-190.

Zhang, Y., Liu, X., Xu, S., Yang, L. Q., & Bednall, T. C. (2019). Why abusive supervision impacts employee OCB and CWB: A meta-analytic review of competing mediating mechanisms. Journal of Management, 45(6), 2474-2497.