About Action Research

What is action research?

Action research is a scientific methodology and an approach towards bringing positive changes in the organization/situation by:

  • Collaborating with the client’s team in developing deeper understanding of the concerns/opportunities facing the organization.
  • Bringing the research evidences on the issues such that the actions are not ‘hit and trial’ but are informed by science, thereby increasing the probability of its success.
  • Collaborates with the client in actually getting the actions executed, making positive changes.
  • Develops the client’s internal resources (people, processes and systems) for addressing future challenges themselves.
  • Contributes to the discipline of management by creating unique knowledge that is made public, leading to the branding of the organization and making knowledge available for others to benefit.
How is action research different from consulting?

The table below best explains the difference between action research and consulting:

Sr. No. Consulting Action Research
1 Works on client organization Works with the client organization
2 ‘Recycles solutions’ and exemplifies what Abraham Maslow stated, “I have the hammer—where is the nail.” Develops deep understanding of the unique situation of the client and develops a customized, research-based solution.
3 Output of consulting is invariably a report at an exorbitant cost. This report is generally filed and seldom implemented. Output is positive changes in the organization by the action-researcher actually collaborating in implementing the actions decided.
4 Most have no experience of execution and change management; hence, the proposals can be impractical. Have experience of execution and expertise in change management such that proposals are pragmatic.
5 Draws on their inventory of models and past solutions, imposing them upon the client’s current situation. Draws on research evidence on the client’s specific situation. Action researchers believe in Kurt Levin’s saying, “There is nothing as practical as a good theory.”
6 Does not create new knowledge as the approach is mostly to re-cycle existing knowledge. Creates new knowledge leading to the branding of organization and benefits others.
7 Low value-for-money as the consulting outcomes are seldom implemented. Very high value-for-money as the involvement leads to positive changes in the organization.