From Action Research to Practice Research

Goran Goldkuhl

Abstract


Action research (AR) has gained more acceptance as an approach to qualitative research in information systems (IS). The complexities of organisational and technical change makes this approach a suitable one in IS research. There are, however, still some controversies and confusions about the relation between “action” and “research”. The many types of AR and similar approaches (not labelled as AR) that have emerged demands further conceptual clarification of AR. A conceptual inquiry of AR, presented in the paper, has led to the identification of several unresolved issues concerning intervention research like AR. An alternative research approach is presented: practice research. This research approach is well founded in pragmatism and it builds on the two premises: 1) to contribute to general practice through abstract and useful knowledge and 2) to study the empirical field as interconnected practices. Several important concepts of practice research are described as: local practice contribution vs. general practice contribution; theorizing vs. situational inquiry. Practice research is seen as a broader notion encompassing AR and other research approaches as e.g. design research and evaluation research. Two case examples of practice research are briefly presented and compared: one AR-based study in the social welfare sector and one evaluation study of a taxation e-service.

Keywords


action research, qualitative research, practice research, intervention, practice contribution

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v17i2.688

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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