Four contexts of action research

Crossing boundaries for productive interplay

Gertjan Schuiling, Hans Vermaak - International Journal of Action Research, 2017

This paper explores how action research takes place within and between four contexts: adding practical value, improving institutions, developing professions, and contributing to theory. We argue that action research is more than those activities conducted within these contexts: it is a process of handling the generative tensions in the boundary regions.

Framing action research this way has proven helpful in recasting such tensions as meaningful, in thinking through research designs in teaching and practice, and in paying sufficient attention to boundary work. This model for conceptualizing action research has been refined over two decades of practice and reflection by the authors.

This article in IJAR is a strongly revised version of a paper that was awarded as the best action research paper at the Academy of Management Annual Conference in 2016 by the Organization Development & Change Division.