Possible Contributions of Qualimetrics Intervention-Research Methodology to Action Research

By Savall, Henri; Zardet, Véronique et al. | International Journal of Action Research, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Possible Contributions of Qualimetrics Intervention-Research Methodology to Action Research


Savall, Henri, Zardet, Véronique, Péron, Michel, Bonnet, Marc, International Journal of Action Research


The objective of this paper is to present the possible contribution of an innovative method referred to as qualimetrics intervention-research because it helps measuring the impact of action-research processes, not only from a qualitative point of view, but also from quantitative and financial ones. It brings to light the necessary requirements or conditions to obtain the creation of generic contingency in the field of action-research through a "Contradictory inter-subjectivity" principle. These concepts are illustrated with reference to an experiment conducted in a construction site on behalf of the ministry of public works. The objective was to design innovative methods to reconcile quality-safety and environmental standards with budget constraints.

Key words: evaluation of action-research processes, qualimetrics intervention-research, generic contingency, contradictory inter-subjectivity, socio-economic theory

Introduction

This paper is aimed at drawing the attention of Action-Researchers on the need to conceptualise the results of action research processes. Indeed, one can observe the extreme variety of the methodologies which claim their kinship with the action-research approach stream. We cannot but side with Olav Eikeland when he posits in his seminal book chapter in Reason and Bradbury's Handbook on AR (2001) that "the really, but tacitly privileged method of mainstream methodology and thereby also of traditional social research, is arguably some kind of Action Research".

However, action research is often seen as a research method only aimed at producing contextual knowledge, as opposed to reproducible models of knowledge. Therefore, we intend to analyse a new research method referred to as qualimetrics intervention-research to show why it can possibly enhance modelling of action research outcomes, in a multi-dimensional way.

The qualimetrics intervention-research consists in a dual process aimed at reconciling academic research and field research. The concept of qualimetrics intervention-research, which is close to action-research "implies the frequent presence of the researcher within the enterprise in order to ensure systematic observation of management situations under study. This methodological option acknowledges that the researcher is clearly engaged in his or her research strategy and co-constructs knowledge with the actors observed" (Buono & Savall, 2007, p. 428). We would like to focus on the potential contribution of this research method to Action-Research, with a view to showing that action-research should be earned further to its logical climax which consists in reconciling the social, economic and financial objectives of the organisations. It implies one should go for an even more comprehensive approach to action-research to help create a cohesive body of findings covering the full gamut of qualitative, quantitative and financial information.

In this paper, we show that the essence of qualimetrics interventionresearch is that the scientific knowledge acquired is concomitantly based on qualitative, quantitative and financial data. This qualimetrics research methodology is by no means to be equated with "reflexive consultancy". Indeed, the qualimetrics approach goes beyond implementing "one size fits all systems" and participative observation or even collaborative research, because the implication of the researcher with the actors consists in observing a conscious and participatory change process. When using the word " participatory", we agree with Reason & Bradbury (2001) and Arieli, Friedman & Agbaria (2009) in that we consider that participation is a major characteristic of any action-research method, but as far as the qualimetrics interventionresearch process is considered, we think that the relationship between intervention-researcher and company actors is not "blurred", because at the inception of the research-intervention a long process of negotiation is to be found: the objective is to ensure that the process will not be distorted during its implementation, and that each and every category of actor takes an active part.

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