Understanding Human Resource Development: A Research-Based Approach

By Jim McGoldrick; Jim Stewart et al. | Go to book overview

17

USING ACTION RESEARCH TO EXPLORE THE DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF SECOND GENERATION ASIAN SMALL BUSINESSES
Clare Rigg, Kiran Trehan and Monder Ram
Aims and contribution
Research into small firms' HRD practice and needs in general has over-whelmingly been quantitative, focused on training, and concentrated on investigating larger enterprises, tending to exclude businesses with fewer than fifty employees. There is very limited information on HRD within minority ethnic firms and no more than speculation on the development needs of 'second generation' South Asians 1 in self-employment. This chapter will relate the experience of a consultancy project that deployed action research to investigate the development needs of second-generation South Asian small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. The intention is to use this account to introduce the reader to the following:
• the origins, aspirations and characteristics of action research;
• diversity of traditions and approaches to action research;
• the potential application of action research to researching HRD;
• pitfalls of implementing the ideals of action research, particularly in research conducted as funded consultancy.

The chapter argues that action research in this context can address concerns over rigour and reliability. However, the process requires a constant struggle to maintain credibility with entrepreneurs who are acutely aware of costs of participation, funders who are part of a pervasive contract culture, and the small business research community which is still in the process of establishing its disciplinary credentials.

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