Linking SDD as a methodology for Action Research

Are the results and insights from the practice of Action Research-based methods transferable from one situation to another? How does the “science” of Action Research-based collaborative design achieve validity? Given the increased participation of the public in science, (ie. de Zeeuw’s “Third Phase Science”) how are the roles of researcher/practitioner and situation stakeholder changing? What are the economic challenges of conducting research on Action Research?

An international group of doctoral students at the Centre for Systems Research, in the Lincoln School of Management, at the University of Lincolnshire & Humberside, England, are deliberating such questions in their Autumn Seminar Series “Where is the Research in Action Research?.” The theme of the series and the format were developed by DP Dash, of India, to be a “learning conversation.” (see for a description of “learning conversations.”) Distinguished participants in the seminar series include Professors G. de Zeeuw and R. Espejo. The seminar series is a bold re-consideration of the theoretical foundations and empirical verification of methods which espouse a grounding in Action Research. The first two sessions have dealt with current controversies in Action Research, and its nature and validity.

Dimitrios Tsagdis, researcher and doctoral candidate, hosted CWA Associate Kevin Dye, for the November 4th session. An emergent thread in the deliberations concerned the transferability of insights from one Action Research-based method to another. For example, the Interactive Management, Soft Systems Methodology, and Viable Systems Model communities have accrued two decades of application experience. It is timely to commence an inter-methodological review of this collection of case studies, establish a pluralist set of evaluative criteria, evaluate the cases with respect to their espoused theories, and foster inter-methodological collaboration. Furthermore, there are a growing number of practitioners who employ multiple methods, such as the three above, and can provide direct experience with their usage, combination, and insights regarding innovation in Action Research and its methods. Mr. Dye, on behalf of CWA, reached an agreement with members of the Lincoln group to pursue inter-methodological collaboration in a more formal fashion over the next year.

CWA expresses its gratitude to Messrs. Tsagdis, Dash, and de Zeeuw for including one of its associates in this important and timely topic.

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