International Journal of Action Research

Published by Rainer Hampp Verlag
Online ISSN: 1861-9916
Publications
Article
A central question for a researcher with interactive ambitions is to what extent the research concerned can support development at the same time as distance and a critical attitude are maintained. In this article I will show how the interactive research approach has made it possible to create new knowledge together with the participants, in a situation in which closeness itself was largely the factor that enabled the participants to accept reflections and criticism, and to exercise self-criticism when reviewing their activities. The learning of the participants enabled them to move beyond common sense, and to jointly acquire and develop knowledge in the research process. This article will show how the interactive research process made the situation of young people an item on the municipal agenda, and how the knowledge gained came to be expressed both in discussion and in political decisions.
 
Article
This article aims to discuss how the action research process can allow socially and historically constructed silences to be overcome. These kinds of silences prevent the emergence of dialogues necessary to the investigation mode. The necessary dialogues are built through the creation of a common participatory universe, and the construction of a consensual space between researchers and subjects of the practice, between those who are different and those who are the same. The article analyzes an action research project with women embroiderers in the suburbs of a large Brazilian city, directed at the formation of a working collective. Focusing on this experience, the authors discuss the strategies used to break the silence between the researcher and the group, considering the differences between researcher and group that could reinforce silences that already existed for participants. In a joint conclusion, the authors point out that action research can work as a critical instrument for breaking silence, allowing subjects to produce communicative processes that make it possible to overcome “resigned states” in order to transform their reality.
 
Article
Exploring and exploiting the richness and reach of large scale action research projects is a challenge. This challenge focuses inwards as it addresses critical issues of enacting, managing and coordinating the actions of the project and engaging in the reflective processes of learning-in-action and knowledge generation by multiple actors and groups engaged in the project. It simultaneously focuses outwards as it seeks to exploit both the processes of the action research itself and the dissemination of actionable knowledge to multiple audiences. This article describes and reflects upon the challenges of exploring and exploiting richness and reach arising in the CO-IMPROVE project, a European Union (EU) funded initiative involving action research in complex networks of academics and business. The objectives of CO-IMPROVE included the facilitation of collaborative improvement of operations practice and performance in the extended manufacturing enterprise through action research among both managers and academics.
 
Article
The article focuses on participation as enactment of power in dialogic, organisational action research. The article has a dual purpose: It shows how participation is enacted as power in processes between participating managers, employees and action researchers with different or conflicting interests. It discusses if and eventually how it is possible to handle participatory processes when participation is conceptualised as enactment of power. This is done by reflecting critically on two examples from a dialogic, action research project carried out in two Danish, private organisations in 2008 and 2009. The overall perspective is to bring participation as enactment of power into the centre of dialogic, organisational action research processes and into action research that understands itself as participatory. The article argues in favour of understanding participation as enactment of power in a project work between different partners (employees, managers, and action researchers) with different interests. This argument is based on a definition of participation as co-determination of goals and means. Moreover, the article argues that combining reflexive and contextualised analyses from 1rst and 2nd person approaches with broader 3rd person action research perspectives might make dialogic, organisational action research projects more actionable. Theoretically, participatory processes aim at empowerment. The article shows that co-producing knowledge in dialogic, organisational action research implies ongoing reflections on tensions in the action research concept of ‘co-‘. In practice, these processes unfold in a field of tensions between empowerment and constraint.
 
Article
This paper examines the impact of a new national R&D programme in Norway, Programme for Regional Innovation and R&D (VRI), which uses action research (AR) to facilitate innovation-oriented collaboration between regional industry, R&D and public institutions. While the VRI programme builds on a sequence of previous AR-oriented regional development programmes, it represents a significant novelty as it democratizes control over research funds from central authorities to regional coalitions of private and public decision makers. Drawing on our own experiences from a long-standing AR project in the Telemark region, we discuss how the commencement of the VRI programme is affecting ongoing development initiatives there and the conditions for conducting AR in regional contexts. We conclude that VRI has led to a situation in which more regional actors are involved in action research activities, and in which there is closer collaboration between researchers and regional decision makers. At the same time, we suggest, there is a risk that the new programme will lead to regional lock-in, and marginalization of national R&D institutions and action research competencies accumulated there during previous R&D programmes.
 
Article
Drawing upon experiences from Scandinavia and Germany this paper argues, that any action research project should be aware of the socio-political context, in which it is taking place and which it is a part of. As a consequence I concentrate on a socio-political perspective on action research rather than on the often used and in European AR discussion prevailing micro perspective on the single action research case. Experiences from Germany and Scandinavia demonstrate that programmes for work life reform as a framework for participative action research do not have any chance without being able to create support from broad socio-political coalitions. The question therefore is: Which is the socio-political context enabling action research as part of action and research programmes in the field of work life reform?
 
Article
The essay tries to argue why conventional researchers are obliged as researchers to be interested in certain forms of action research. The 60 years of ignorance have been illegitimate. The essay starts by listing two commonly encountered arguments paraphrasing Karl Marx and Francis Bacon via Kurt Lewin. It tries to show why a certain simplified reading of Marx cannot provide the necessary arguments. It then presents different variants of action research in order to single out approaches that according to this author require attention from mainstream social researchers. The action research approach emerging as central, by demonstrating its presence and effectiveness within mainstream research as well, is immanent critique. The method of research methodology is immanent critique. Immanent critique has to be demystified, however. When it is brought down to earth, immanent critique is really the kind of dialogical and experiential learning approach associated with apprenticeship learning and with organisational learning. This conclusion, making self-reflective practitioner-research the “hard-core” of action research, even internal to mainstream research, also requires a revision of the experimentalist-as-interventionist credo of action research.
 
Article
During the last decade a major practical turn in research in general has been identified and made subject to discussion. One consequence is a growing interest in what action research can offer in this context. It is a mistake to assume that action research can produce theories of the same kind as conventional research but which are, in some way or other, more practical. The core contributions of action research pertain to how practical challenges are identified, and to how knowledge is made actionable through dialogically structured processes of interplay between research and practical actors. This, however, is not enough. Only when each dialogic process is able to grow in quality and number of actors involved, is the process able to verify its own power as a democratic mechanism.
 
Article
This article relates common ways of conceptualising action research as “intervention”, “collaboration”, “interactive research”, “applied research”, and “practitioner research” to a number of different ways of knowing, extracted from the works of Aristotle. The purpose is not to disavow any of these practices but to expand the philosophical, methodological, and theoretical horizon to contain the Aristotelian concept of praxis. It is claimed that praxis knowing needs to be comprehended in order to realize the full, radical potential in action research providing real “added value” in relation to more conventional social research approaches. Praxis knowing radically challenges the divisions of labour between knower-researchers and the known-researched. Thereby it also challenges both the epistemologies and institutionalisations dominating both conventional research and conventional ways of conceptualising action research.
 
About figure 1, he remarks: " Your retinas and visual cortices are affected as much as mine are; our sensedatum pictures would not differ. Surely we could all produce an accurate sketch of figure 1. Do we see the same thing? I see a bear climbing the other side of a tree " (pp. 12-13). For those who have never seen this drawing before, his talk of 'a bear' can produce an 'oh yes, now I get it' reaction. The point is, not so much that the word 'bear' gives us a particular picture (a mental representation) of an entity, but that the word 'bear' arouses in us all sorts of transitory understandings and action guiding anticipations (Bakhtin 1986, Shotter 2005), so that we are able, in practice, not only to know 'where' we are, so to speak, but also how to 'go on' 4 to entertain a whole range of further specific possibilities (but not just any). Thus, as Hanson  
Article
Action research is often criticized for not being properly based in objective facts or for not formulating testable theories, in short, for not being properly scientific. But with what kind of science should it be contrasted? Hanson (1958) distinguishes between finished, (classical) sciences and research sciences. Unlike a finished science that can be conducted by us as individuals within an already well formulated disciplinary discourse, a research science cannot. If it is to inquire into possibilities not yet actualized, it must be conducted in a much more situated, conversational manner. Thus as researchers, instead of functioning as detached observers, seeking to discover the invisible or ‘hidden’ causes of an observed event, we must operate in an ongoing real-time situation in a much more dialogical manner. For such dialogically-structured activity can, within the dynamics of its unfolding, give rise to transitory understandings and action guiding anticipations of a ‘situated’ kind, thus enabling all those involved in such activity to ‘go on’ with each other in unconfused ways. It is this participation in a shared grammar of felt, moment by moment changing expectations that are – in the interests of a decontextualized objectivity – precluded (or ‘lost’) within the disciplinary discourses of a finished science. Thus, guided by Wittgenstein’s (1953) writings in his later philosophy, I want to show in this article that, not only is it more accurate to compare action research with research sciences than with classical sciences, but that action research can find its intellectual legitimacy in the same sphere of human conduct as all of our sciences – in people being responsibly accountable for their own actions to the others around them in terms of their immediate relations to their shared surroundings.
 
Article
This paper presents a social entrepreneurship undertaking that has been both a motivation and exemplar to develop action research methods. The complexity of social entrepreneurship and action research processes are presented, highlighting the need for an organising framework that will both provide support and allow for flexibility. The Action Research Cycle, with five key episodes and an emphasis on the dynamics of ebb and flow, is proposed as a framework for understanding and managing social entrepreneurship projects. Drawing on the social entrepreneurship project Mushuk Muyu, examples highlight the application and use of the framework. The paper concludes with key insights, strengths and weaknesses, and the benefits of using the framework.
 
Article
The objective of this paper is to present the possible contribution of an innovative method referred to as qualimetrics intervention-research because it helps measuring the impact of action-research processes, not only from a qualitative point of view, but also from quantitative and financial ones. It brings to light the necessary requirements or conditions to obtain the creation of generic contingency in the field of action-research through a “Contradictory inter-subjectivity” principle. These concepts are illustrated with reference to an experiment conducted in a construction site on behalf of the ministry of public works. The objective was to design innovative methods to reconcile quality-safety and environmental standards with budget constraints.
 
Article
Many definitions of action research, especially of participatory action research, include the idea of learning as one core result of the interventions. These definitions cover the learning of all people involved, and present an interesting learning challenge for the researchers applying action research. In Finland, the first action research projects in working life research were started as late as in the 1980s. Since then action research has held its own as a significant tool in the development of work organizations, particularly in the enhancement of employee involvement and learning at work. This paper provides an example of the interaction between theory and practice as a part of action research processes in the Finnish municipal sector, and consequently as a part of the learning of the action researchers. The learning process is captured by re-reading of, and reflection on, the earlier publications. The findings are presented in the form of a conceptualization-oriented learning narrative that complements the learning taken place, either on the government policy level or on the programme level, depending on the larger organizational background of the action research conducted. Parallel to learning, this paper focuses on participatory action research employing dialogue forums and especially on its particular characteristics that give a voice and, to a certain extent, also offer a choice to the employees in using their discretion in the formulation of organizational change.
 
Article
My reflections from the field are shared in an effort to assist others. I commence by describing a social problem that was the focus of an action research project. I then articulate the paradigmatic, methodological and method choices made. I share extracts of data collected during different stages of the project to illustrate cycles of learning, reflection, and the development of actionable knowledge. What is important for researchers who are contemplating choosing action research is to understand the philosophy behind their decisions; that they think carefully about “why we do what we do” in order to fully realise the outcomes of co-learning, developing actionable knowledge and, ultimately, making change.
 
Article
AR is not just one more social science “method”; it is a fundamentally different way of conducting research and social change work together. Participation in AR is not just a moral value but essential to successful AR because the complexities of the problems addressed require the knowledge and experience of a broad and diverse array of stakeholders. I argue that there is no one ideal form of AR and that what is useful is situationally dependent which is also why AR cannot respect or operate within the disciplinary boundaries or departmental structures of academic. For these reasons, Morten Levin and I prefer to call our work “pragmatic AR”. To complete the paper, I present two cases, one from industry and one from community development, to show how I practice pragmatic AR in context.
 
Article
This article seeks to explore chronic career indecision in light of career development theories and action research perspectives, aiming to delineate some intervention strategies. Firstly, the issue of career indecision in general is examined, and research in this area is then utilised to fuel a discussion of chronic career indecision in particular. Attention is drawn to the antecedents of chronic career indecision, including personality factors and social and situational factors, and the psychological, interpersonal, and general well-being of chronically undecided individuals is then examined. Secondly, concepts are reviewed from three career development theories, namely the life-span life-space theory, the cognitive information processing theory, and the narrative approach, as they relate to chronic career indecision. Finally, along with an action research perspective, several intervention strategies are proposed which career counsellors may find helpful when working with chronically undecided individuals.
 
Article
At the Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice (CARPP), action research is embodied in a distinctive way that is eclectic and varied yet thematically coherent and values-based. This paper offers an articulation of this approach, using an experimental presentational form that combines descriptive storied form with analytical exploration. This exploration describes CARPP Action Research as the creation of ‘different spaces’ in which the action researcher/facilitator seeks to create qualities of boundedness, safety and validity, working with participants through cycles of action and reflection. Practices to engender such qualities are described and it is proposed that these offer an ‘emancipatory potential’ that, when realised, enables participants to take action outwards to the social and institutional settings of which they are a part. Two illustrative stories of practice are given, one describing how an MSc student in CARPP established an inquiry group, the other describing an action research programme with managers. The stories show how some of the qualities and values of the Centre are enacted through detailed practice that is sensitive to context. Links to critical theory are offered, and some questions as to the enduring consequences of such practice are considered.
 
Article
Taking as points of departure two concrete research projects carried out in Denmark, the article discusses some of the dilemmas faced by the action researcher while she takes turns with ideas of collaboration and community, both in relation to knowledge production, and in relation to the creation of research relations. It argues that an unfolding of a first person perspective can inspire deconstruction of constraining meaning-making processes and motivate critical dialogue about conditions for social change. It also suggests that sharing the dilemmas of the researcher with other participants can additionally open alternative tracks for understanding relations in collaborative research.
 
Article
In this article different perspectives on organisational change are analysed using Hayden White’s genre categories: romance, comedy, tragedy and satire. White maintains that a “story” is not determined by data, events or the particular case, nor by the way events are remembered, collected or told. Narrative structures preconfigure; they determine in advance what is accepted as a story, and the meaning that will be created. The empirical material for this article is mainly the literature on different perspectives on organisational change e.g. Actor Network Theory (ANT), Action Re-search (AR) and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR). In addition, and to contrast in the discussion of genre classification, literature from two different and well known perspectives from work and organisation are used e.g. critical sociology and Swedish pragmatic professional knowl-edge production. The literature describing ANT is mostly of a satirical character, while the literature describing this type of participative action research is more romantic. BPR literature combines the satirical and the romantic genres. In addition, possible ramifications of this point of view, i.e., which strategies for change are seen or predominant within the differ-ent genres, and the implications for action are considered. To succeed in organisational change programmes I conclude that a switch between sa-tiric and romantic narratives is needed. Different perspectives belonging to different genres, predefining what conclusions we are going to see, what actions are seen as possible, provide a reflexive insight on how facts are produced. Being aware of these predefined limitations within the genres gives academics the possibility to understand, or even the freedom to choose, where to belong.
 
Article
Action research and collaborative management research emerge from different traditions and each begins from a different foundational position in regard to action and to collaboration. Both are different from the traditional research, evaluative research or practitioner research orientations. From a grounding in a philosophy of practical knowing as social science, this article engages in a comparative theoretical exploration of action research and collaborative management research through a focus on the operations of human knowing which yield a general empirical method. It reviews the origins of each approach and how they differ significantly from each other in the context in which they operate, with consequent differences in how the research is implemented and how the relationship between the parties is structured. The general empirical method provides a critical perspective on assessing the quality of action research and collaborative management research in terms of dimensions of real-life action, the quality of collaboration, the quality of inquiry in action and sustainability. The aim is to develop understanding of how these two approaches relate to one another so as to advance knowledge of the different modalities or expressions that comprise the broad field of action- and collaborative-oriented research as a social science of practical knowing.
 
Article
The book 'Action research and new media' by Greg Hearn, Jo Tacchi, Marcus Foth and June Lennie, breaks new ground in a number of ways. It explores the new internet media using action research. At the same time it uses the new media to reach out to the participants in action research studies. Three new varieties of action research are developed and described. Ethnographic action research, as its name implies, takes an ethnographic approach to action research studies. Network action research researches community networks – the “communicative ecology” – while employing those networks as research tools. Anticipatory action research brings a perspective of foresight to action research. In their account the authors present a record of their endeavours, successful and unsuccessful. The result is a series of studies that can stand as exemplars of sophisticated, flexible, critical and self-reflexive participatory field research.
 
Article
I think of action research as an extension of a natural approach to problem solving. Faced with a novel situation we often first investigate. We then develop an intention to act, and carry it out. We notice if it worked. Action research similarly cycles between intention, action and review. To this natural process it adds certain important enhancements. The review component is strengthened. Rigour and theory are given more attention. More care is given to identify who else should be involved, and how. Flexibility is strengthened. A variety of processes are used, many borrowed from other literatures and practices. This paper begins with a broad overview of action research from this perspective. Different aspects of my own variations on this approach are then examined and described in more detail. As I examine my use of action research, I illustrate my comments with examples. Most of these are taken from a university class I facilitated for many years.
 
Article
The article illustrates that there seems to be a fairly large distance between action research ideals of dialogue, democracy, participation, and involvement and the actual challenges we have met when practicing dialogic action research in hierarchical organizations where dialogue is always already embedded in organizational power relations. An overall purpose is to show that we are not only involved professionally as action researchers, but also challenged existentially as human beings when practicing dialogic action research. This has at least two consequences. One is about giving up knowing in advance. The other is about focusing on the quality of the relations with the participants, because this relationship seems to have critical impact on the quality of the results of dialogic action research projects. The article presents some concepts developed in dialogic action research projects in Danish, private and public organizations such as AR dilemmas, self-referentiality, emergent mutual involvement and not knowing, social concrete blocks, and the arbitrary punctuator.
 
Article
Using data from the German case, the paper examines a new form of client firms’ utilization of temporary agency work that is distinctly different from traditional forms responding to production problems. Client firms, particularly from manufacturing, increasingly use temporary agency workers as a quasi-permanent component of their workforce. Management’s primary aim is to establish a “security net” for the short-term-profits by bypassing German statutory dismissal protection. However, since client firms’ regular employees and the temporary agency workers tend to perform the same tasks, a secondary effect of the strategic use of temporary agency work can be observed: the disciplinary effects associated with precarious work are tangibly amplified and expanded.
 
Article
This paper expands the discussion on working life reform from the well-known European examples to cover recent developments in East Asia as well. A comparison between two European (Finland and Ireland) and two East Asian (Singapore and South Korea) workplace development strategies is carried out by making use of Naschold’s model that he developed in the early 1990s. The main question is how are the macro-level differences in the developmental role of the state and the micro-level differences in the systems of industrial relations and human resource management reflected in the strategies and what policy implications might be drawn from the analysis. At the end, the paper also compares each country’s strategy in relationship to its own earlier historical development and aims to analyse how radical are the strategy choices that have been made.
 
Article
The paper analyzes the construction of a pedagogical-investigative method, which has as its key element the development of strategies for overcoming inequalities in Latin American societies. Paulo Freire and Orlando Fals Borda, among others, provide elements for understanding the origins of a method which, in research, has a close relation to the educational dimension and, in education, integrates the investigative dimension as a part of the process of developing active subjects in their communities. The paper refers to research projects that were developed using participatory methodologies, attempting to identify some recent developments, advances and limits. Among these projects, special attention is paid to those that show the role of pedagogical mediations in participatory social processes in South Brazil (state of Rio Grande do Sul), particularly the activities of a garbage recyclying association and the implementation of the participatory budget in a municipality in South Brazil.
 
Article
This article describes and discusses an interactive research approach, and illustrates this approach by presenting two examples of national change projects. Our aim in presenting these two examples is to demonstrate how interactive research can be conducted in close co-operation with those concerned, within the framework of a critical and reflective community. The two cases presented serve to illustrate how an interactive research approach can support the development and dissemination of project experience, but also how the interactive approach can act as a means of generating theoretical knowledge in order to identify and understand more of the mechanisms involved in sustainable work environment and health work.
 
Article
European trade unions are facing a very serious crisis of identity and strategy. Probably the worst for a long time. Practically all the principal organisations appear to be in serious difficulty in intercepting the new typologies of employment relationships; in interpreting their new identity profiles; the expectations for representation and voice that emerge at both an individual and collective level. In the post-Fordist economy there are more and more SMEs companies, in the service sector, with skilled white collar workers, many of which female, with atypical or subcontract employment relationships, new cultural attitudes and expectation in terms of representations and voice. From a trade union viewpoint, all these elements impose a radical turnaround of attitudes and approaches in order to maintain and possibly reach all those employees who still suffer inequalities, precariousness, exploitation. One of the most interesting and recent experiments is probably represented by the Italian trade union movement, concerning the specific organisation of the atypical workers into the frame of the three historical big confederations (Cgil, Cisl and Uil). A socially and juridical heterogeneous universe, composed by agency temporary workers and semi-dependent workers. Into the international scenario of union density decline the article describes this experience, within the peculiarities of the Italian model of trade unionism and industrial relations.
 
Article
Theodore Taptiklis is a former McKinsey & Company consultant who, over the course of a 40 year career in business and organizations, undertook a wide variety of roles, including board member, senior executive, strategist and change manager, business development manager, and worked also in a variety of line-management positions as both an employee and as a professional advisor. He characterizes his professional life during that time as a progression from, not only a position of arrogant certainty to one of increasing ignorance, but also as one from realizing the all-consuming pervasiveness and insidiousness of traditional management doctrine (managerialism) to the possibility of more authentic and liberating ways of experiencing organizational life. The starting point for this process of ‘unmanaging’ ourselves, he suggests, is what we can notice each moment in our experience of the activities occurring between us in our everyday lives – a move from understanding our own practices as outside observers of them to engaged participants within them.
 
Article
The article discusses the systematisation of the practice of political and trade union training of the Enfoc: Escola Nacional de Formação Político Sindical; of the Contag: Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura [National School for Political and Trade Union Training of the National Confederation of Workers in Agriculture]. These institutions have their headquarters in Brasília, Brazil, and are part of the MSTTR: Movimento Sindical dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras Rurais [Trade Union Movement of Rural Workers]. The object investigated is the systematisation process of the political and trade union training of the Enfoc/Contag in the national and regional courses held during the 2006-2009 period. In order to meet the aim of presenting 'the case', and reflections on the theoretical-methodological, ethical-political and pedagogical processes in which systematisation can involve the subjects it gathers, and which it can launch onto them, the article initially presents, in a summarised manner, information on the object of reflection. It spells out the concept of systematisation used and also presents “theoretical reasons” which show that this kind of investigation: attached to social practices and performed collectively, with the intention of producing knowledge and learning from and for practices, and which flows into a subjectivation process, can lead to reflections that actually surpass the limits of systematised practices. It provides elements for reflections on this subjectivation process which allows the subjects to criticise what has been experienced, gives them freedom to reorient their ways of being in the world (“being-oneself”, “being-together”, “being-relationship”), and submit their political practices to a reflective surveillance that will keep them moving.
 
The Three Types of Project and Their Capacity for Producing Different Kinds of Output.
Article
This paper starts by providing a generic conceptual framework to improve understanding of critical success factors for the social effectiveness of programmes that promote workplace innovation. Thereafter, the paper shows how this framework can be applied in making choices about the content of projects in the programmes. A distinction is made between user-oriented, method-based, and learning network types of project. The three types are examined and compared, in terms of their ability to provide four kinds of outcomes, programme learning and policy learning. The pa-per also shows how learning networks can be applied to overcome some of the problems involved in the two other types of project. In elaborating the argument, the author makes use of the experiences gained from the implementation of learning network projects in the Finnish Workplace Development Programme TYKES.
 
Article
The focus of this study is on interaction between local public administration, businesses and universities in a Triple Helix. The paper presents experiences from an independent research organization set up to further regional development, where doctoral students worked with a local community. The paper also draws on experience from other similar independent research units in Sweden. It is suggested that a major reason for the lack of rapport between the parties is that researchers and entrepreneurs tend to stress different parts of the research process. While orthodox science emphasizes verification, entrepreneurs are more interested in theoretically informed creativity and innovation, especially when they gain from saving time. They see uncertainty and risk management as unavoidable components of doing business, and often mistrust scientific proofs and abstract modelling.
 
Article
The present economic crisis has sparked a new debate in a wider political and academic public about the role of the state in advanced capitalist societies. The paper discusses this issue in a comparative perspective: How have different models of capitalism in Europe coped with major economic and societal challenges before the present crisis? Taking the UK and Sweden as flagship examples for contrasting models of capitalism in Europe, and Germany as an increasingly controversial case between these poles, the paper describes major moves taken in these three countries, from the mid-1990s, to tackle the challenges of globalisation and the liberalisation of EU labour and product markets, and to respond to societal changes such as ageing and the changing gender roles. It concludes with a comparative assessment of changes in these three models of capitalism in Europe before the current economic crisis as a basis for an outlook at the respective prospects in the near future, given the legacies of this crisis for public budgets and the capacities of the states.
 
Article
The article outlines the background and action research strategy followed in a large scale development project in the Telemark region SW of Oslo. The project is a part of a national, tripartite, R&D programme, “Value Creation 2010”, which started in 2000 as a continuation of the series of work life democratization efforts initiated in 1962. The choice of action research methods applied is explained and discussed. Further, we present the practical outcomes in terms of commitment to new ways of organizing work across boundaries, the economic performance of the networks, the creation and securing of jobs and organisational innovations. The potential for further economic development in the region is discussed.
 
Article
Driving forces behind the occurrence of either paradigm shifts in science, or the development of new orientations within science, are often linked to demands for an increased validity or reliability in knowledge production in science. With this as a starting point, I discuss parallels and diversities between gender and feminist research and interactive research orientations. Both traditions have a joint democratic ambition, as well as an aim to increase reliability of science. Reliability will be discussed as “social robustness” (Novotny et al. 2001). Focus will be on contributions from gender and feminist research that can lead to a joint qualifying process for both research traditions. Starting from a general discussion using “reflexive gender reminders”, to frame knowledge production, I then discuss dilemmas of robustness in interactive research processes, and researcher and participant subjectivity.
 
Article
Establishing and nurturing contacts are important and time-consuming elements of interactive research. It is usually the researcher who has to establish and nurture collaboration with practitioners – a task that is not normally part of traditional research. A mutual interest in the subject of the research is a prerequisite for collaboration, but there are quite often other factors that explain why collaboration begins and endures. On the basis of the experience gained in a number of interactive research projects, we address the conditions required for an effective and lasting interplay between collaborating partners. Theoretical inspiration has been provided by studies of so-called imaginary organisations.
 
Article
This article discusses the evaluation of social policies and programmes in the perspective of evaluation research. It tries to develop a methodology that has a participatory content. Thus, the evaluation of social policies and programmes is considered in its full potential for the construction of knowledge. It is seen as a development of the processes of public policies that involves different subjects, who have different interests and rationalities. In the construction of a concept of a participatory evaluation research, the article takes into account its technical, political and academic functions. Therefore, it reaffirms two dimensions of evaluation research: technical and political. The commitment of the evaluator-researcher to the critique of reality in the search for its transformation is the reference for the development of a participatory approach in evaluation research. The paper presents an introduction that describes the origins of what is considered as a participatory approach for evaluation of social policies and programmes, followed by developing reflections about evaluation as a part of the process of public policies; presents a concept of evaluation research in order to consider, in the following sections, details of the construction of a participatory concept and approach in evaluation research.
 
Article
What is involved, in practice, coming to a judgement? The Norwegian family therapist, Tom Andersen, characterized himself as 'a wanderer and worrier', he was constantly reflecting on his ways of ‘going on’, on his own practice, to further develop and refine them. Each new way came to him, he said, on reaching a ‘crossroads’, a point when he felt unable to continue any longer in the same way. But once he stopped doing what he had come to see as ethically wrong, he found, he said, that the 'alternatives popped up almost by themselves' (Anderson/Jensen, 2007: 159). What I want to discuss is the fact that, while we can say that we can quite self-consciously and deliberately decide not to do something (perhaps never again) at a particular moment, in a new and particular situation we cannot be said to decide at any particular instant in time, positively what to do. New ways of acting cannot be planned; they have to emerge. As Lehrer (2009) suggests, coming to act in a way that seems to be for the best in a particular situation is not something we can decide upon simply within ourselves – judgmental work, in which we go out bodily, to relate ourselves imaginatively and feelingfully to various aspects of our current circumstances, aspect-by-aspect, sequentially, over time, seems to be required. It is what the nature of this imaginative judgmental work feels like, looks like, and sounds like that I want to discuss in this paper.
 
Article
Against the background of a deep crisis in trade union representation, the authors seek to determine some possible starting points for a renewal of trade unions. The employees’ organisations are seen as actors who have a strategic choice as to which power resources to tap. Though the specific national systems of industrial relations influence the unions’ strategic options, there are nevertheless various opportunities for transnational learning processes. This contribution analyses the potential for trade union renewal, drawing on several examples of organizing approaches in the USA and Germany.
 
Article
Public policy programmes in the field of working life reforms may be needed, but they cannot do more than supplement the genuine dynamics of the working life. They can influence people’s perceptions of the prob-lems and the work forms applied in organizing development. Power rela-tions in private and public organizations, as results of business and socie-tal trends, are obstacles to innovative and anthropocentric oriented reforms in working life. The more participative elements funded projects have been integrated, the more robust are their outcomes. National programme structures have to strive for the establishment of persistent local-level de-velopment coalitions, and to support collaboration of all actors concerned in development processes. International networking is possibly a learning facilitator. The implementation of, and learning from, reform programmes from the 1970s to our time is analyzed, with a focus on personal experi-ences from research, project management and evaluation of Scandinavian and German programmes.
 
Article
The three realms of meaning: practical knowing, theory and interiority provide a framework for understanding the epistemological challenges confronting action researchers. Action researchers have two external horizons: that of practice and that of theory. Practice engages with the world of practical knowing, where the challenges are the successful completion of practical tasks. Theory engages the realm of scholarship as action researchers seek to develop understanding of, for example, the dynamics of organization and change. Interiority involves shifting from what we know to how we know, and is a process of intellectual self-awareness. Interiority goes beyond practical knowing and theory, not by negating them or leaving them behind, but appreciating them and recognizing their limitations. Interiority is the integrating factor that enables action researchers to hold both, to appreciate the value of both and to move from one to the other appropriately. It is a process at the cutting edge of integrating theory, practice and research.
 
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The article deals with employee driven innovation in regular teams from a critical, pragmatic action research perspective, referring to theories on innovation, dialogue, workplace learning, and organizational communication. It is based on an action research project “Innovation and involvement through strengthening dialogue in team based organizations” funded by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. 18 teams from one public and two private organizations participated in the project. The article defines the concept of employee driven innovation (EDI) in relation to theories on innovation, workplace learning and action research, and presents EDI as a fairly new field of research. EDI is conceptualized as a participatory endeavour differing from a mainstream understanding of innovation as surplus value for the organization. The article focuses on incremental, organizational process innovations co-created across conflicting workplace interests in and between teams. The article argues that it is meaningful to assert that every employee has an innovative potential, no matter of what educational background or sector and that sometimes, this innovative potential might be facilitated through Dialogic Helicopter Team Meetings (DHTM) with a dissensus approach. During the action research process, it became important to organize a special kind of DHTMs as a supplement to ordinary team action meetings close to day-to-day operations, but separated in time and space. They focus on how to improve existing organizational routines and work practice in order to produce value for the organization, better work flow, and improved work life quality. These meetings are discussed in relation to similar organizational constructs within Scandinavian action research. The action research process made it clear that it is not enough to set up DHTMs if they are going to facilitate EDIT. They must be characterized by a dissensus approach, combining dissensus organizing and dissensus sensibility. Dissensus organizing means that team conversations must be organized in ways where silent or unspoken, critical voices speak up. This can be done by using, e.g., pro and con groups or a bystander. This demands, too, that team members, managers, and action researchers develop dissensus sensibility to open up for more voices, for indirect criticism, and for more democracy in the decision process trying to balance dialogues in multidimensional tensions between consensus and dissensus. The article grounds the complexities of this process in thick presentations of DHTMs in Team Product Support, Danfoss Solar Inverters and Team Children, Citizen Service, the Municipality of Silkeborg, Denmark. It demonstrates how these meetings created different organizational process innovations, and how theoretical concepts like DHTM, dissensus organizing and dissensus sensibility were developed from practice.
 
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This article examines learning and good practice dissemination in the light of the evolution and experience of the Finnish Workplace Development Programme (TYKES), which has been running from 1996 in Finland, and will complete its third term in 2009. The emphasis will be on the new pro-ject concept used in the second term of the Programme, namely learning networks. The concept of “good practice” is critically examined, and some ideas, pointing out to a need to pay due attention to the quality and learn-ing spaces of “everyday small loops of learning”, in trying to bridge the “dissemination gap”, often identified in programme and project learning, are examined in the light of a feasibility study of a new TYKES-financed learning network project, PEERS, led by the author.
 
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As the pluralisation of spheres of life emerged, qualitative research became more relevant to study social relations. In an attempt to recognise the potential of the documentary method and of participatory research for the study of issues concerning the social and educational experiences of subjects, this article proposes to present conceptual and methodological frameworks of both approaches. Initially we explain the historical context of participatory research and also present the frameworks of reference of this approach. Then we discuss the documentary method developed in Germany since the 1980s based on Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge. Furthermore the authors describe the ethnographic route of two experiments in research with young Brazilians in different socio-spatial contexts. These experiments were guided by the assumptions of the documentary method, but also by principles that establish points in common with the assumptions of participatory research.
 
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The article presents a revision of how popular education has integrated into its practices and reflections on participatory research. After a presentation of popular education as an educational movement and pedagogical current, the article develops a historical reconstruction of the relationship between these two, while offering a critique of the legacy and challenges of this kind of double education: research with an emancipatory perspective. The article ends focusing on the systematization of experience as an emergent research mode in the field of popular education. Although there are different approaches to systematization, all of them try to recover and interpret the meanings that manifest themselves in social practices, with the purpose of strengthening them.
 
A Comparison of Isar AG and Interbank
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With a tradition of informing and consulting employees resting on a single union channel, the 2002 EU Information and Consultation (ICE) Directive was bound to have a significant impact on employee relations in the UK Undoubtedly, the works council as an institution, or employee forum as it is often referred to in the UK, represents a totally new departure in UK employment relations. The article specifically focuses on the repercussions employee forums might have for trade unions. We focus on two companies which have both recently founded employee forums to comply with ICE regulation. We ask whether such forums should be considered as posing a threat to British trade unions, or platform for revitalising their position within the workplace.
 
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The article tries to explicate and illustrate a type of qualitative practitioner research in the field of professional training and to shed light on its practical uses for the acquisition of analytical skills and the fostering of professional discourse. The discussion is based on the author’s work with social work students who are encouraged and supported to become “ethnographers of their own affairs”, especially in the context of their practice placements, which are a mandatory part of their social work course. By presenting and discussing students’ ethnographic field notes and a sequence of a student’s oral narrative (along with their retrospective reflections) he attempts to convey how such a style of researching one’s own practice can contribute to student apprentices’ personal acquisition of skills for the analysis of individual and collective cases. This type of work could also become significant for collective concerns of the profession, e.g. with regard to generating a research based, self-critical and case specific professional discourse on possible problematic tendencies of professional work and the discovery of alternatives of action, but also with regard to the emergence of a self-confident and innovative type of research which is carried out by professional practitioners themselves.
 
Article
In efforts to promote new forms of work organization, the use of exemplary cases and the notion of best practices have played a key role. There are, however, major problems associated with diffusing experience from such sources to new workplaces. To reach out in working life and attain scope in the changes, there is a need for other strategies. To explore options and potentials in this context, workplace development programs have been launched in several countries. The purpose of this article is to look at some of the programs that have emerged in the Scandinavian con-text, with a view to seeing how the issue of scope has been approached and what can be learnt from the programs. In association with the learning issue, the evaluations done of the programs will be the point of departure. The article will, consequently, highlight questions associated with evalua-tions: Are they read? What discourses, if any, do they enter? Are they acted upon?
 
SGF’s organizational structure 
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This article discusses experiences of on-going evaluation within a project funded by the EU Structural Funds. A question that is particularly illustrated is how we, as on-going evaluators, have handled the dilemma between closeness and involvement in the project in relation to distance and a critical approach. This dilemma is standard within action- and interactive research, and becomes particularly evident in a concrete reality within a project. The problem is important to illustrate, especially considering the fact that the on-going evaluation task is politically governed, that is, the EU requires that the customary evaluation be replaced with an on-going evaluation. Furthermore, on-going evaluation finds itself in a developmental phase, where discussions are carried on about how to define the concept, and also on how the role as an on-going evaluator should be worked out. A possible outcome of this could be that the on-going evaluation becomes far too uncritical, or critical, and with that cannot come up to expectations. In this article the assumption is that the task of the on-going evaluator is to follow the development in a project, vis-á-vis established goals, with the purpose of creating practice-relevant knowledge. We also discuss the balancing that exists between being supportive of progress, giving constructive criticism, and not being regarded as far too critical. After having worked in an innovative development project for two years, we have been strengthened in our understanding that the interactive research approach, concept usage, theoretical connection and methodological knowledge constitute imperative demands, in order to handle the changes between closeness and distance.
 
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In this article, the Greek concept of phronesis is analyzed on the basis of its philosophical roots, and the indispensability of its strong normative content is emphasized. This creates a distance to most of the recent understanding of phronesis as prudence, and hence as practical wisdom with a pragmatic and strategic content. The strong dilemmas created by the normative background of real phronesis presents management and leadership as a choice in every situation. From this foundation, phronesis is interpreted as primarily the sense of the event, and an alternative concept of the event is developed. The presentation of the event also demands a theory of the relation of mind and matter, and hence of the body in the event. This is achieved under inspiration from Stoic philosophy. With this in mind, the more serious approaches to practical wisdom: phronesis as determinant of meta-concepts of research; phronesis as a liberating organizational strategy of learning; phronesis as a strategy of knowledge management; phronesis as a narrative strategy; and phronesis as the capacity of the leader, are presented and analyzed. Finally lines are drawn as to the importance of the consciousness of the event and of its theoretical implications, such as through the concept of phronesis for action research.
 
Top-cited authors
Olav Eikeland
  • Oslo Metropolitan University
Klaus Doerre
  • Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Per-Erik Eilström
  • Linköping University
Hajo Holst
  • Universität Osnabrück
Oliver Nachtwey
  • University of Basel