Action research and organizational change
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Action Research and Organizational Change. Supplement to the interview with Dr. Hadley Williams, Managing Director at Human Productivity; conducted by Jesse Jacoby, Managing Principal at Emergent in January 2011

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Action research and organizational change

Action Research and Organizational Change

Supplement to the interview with Dr. Hadley Williams, Managing Director at Human Productivity; conducted by Jesse Jacoby, Managing Principal at Emergent in January 2011

The entire interview is posted online at http://blog.emergentconsultants.com/2011/01/11/action-research


Action research and organizational change

What is Action Research?

  • A research methodology that seeks practical solutions to challenges and problems that organizations face.

    • Similar to applied research

    • Research question(s)

    • Defined subject group

    • An intervention/ independent variable

    • Data collection and analysis

    • Solutions/conclusions drawn

  • Sometimes used interchangeably with the term Action Learning

  • Unique difference is the use of participants/subjects as researchers

  • Often a facilitator guides the group through all phases of a research project


Action research and organizational change

How is Action Research Relevant to Change Management?

  • Discovery of a phenomena called “change management effect”

    • Participants in Action Research projects that investigated new processes required by transformational change became “sold” on the new processes without any change management intervention.

    • Participants became advocates of the new processes with their peers

  • Action Research is not intended to change people—it is intended to discover new information and knowledge about a subject or problem

  • The “change management effect” is a nice by-product of the process


Action research and organizational change

Where Can I Find Additional Information About Action Research?

  • People & Strategy Journal will feature an article on action research in the April, 2011 issue

    • Minimize Costly Implementation Surprises: Conduct Action Research To Test Organizational Design; Williams, H. & Boetcher, K. in People & Strategy, April, 2011

    • http://www.hrps.org/?page=PeopleStrategy

  • Contact me directly


Action research and organizational change

Select References

  • Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (eds). (2008). The sage handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (2nd edition). London: Sage.

  • Schein, E. H. (1995). Process consultation, action research and clinical inquiry: Are they the same? Journal of Managerial Psychology, 10(6).

  • Givens, L. (ed) 2008. The sage handbook on research methods. London: Sage.

  • Marquardt, M. (2004). Optimizing the power of action learning: Solving problems and building leaders in real time. Boston: Davies-Black.


Action research and organizational change

Thank You for Your Interest!


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