An Overview of the Action Research Process
A scientific solution, it would seem, should be easy to implement. That is, the smartest, most scientific people working together, should conceivably be able to develop the best solutions which users would logically accept. However, many logical and scientific solutions may not always gain acceptance. People may not like them because they prefer old ideas of ones they have grown used to.
The term "action-research" was introduced by Kurt Lewin in 1946 to denote an approach to research combining theory building with research on practical problems. In his definition of action research, Lewin emphasized the collaborative relationship between the social scientist and the "client." This relationship affects the "direction" of the research in that it implies that both the scientist and the client are jointly involved in change and research. 1
Lewin's term "there is nothing so practical as a good theory" is used to guide action researchers. Action research aims to "contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate problematic situation and to the goals of social science by joint collaboration within a mutually acceptable ethical framework." 2 As such, action research is a type of applied social research differing from other varieties in the immediacy of the researcher's involvement in the action process.
This chapter provides an overview of the ways to view the change process and then provides an overview of the action research process. This viewpoint on action research attempts to link it to other organizational development practices such as strategic planning. Subsequent chapters describe the action research process in more detail.