Action Research LO7269

Hays, Joe (
Tue, 07 May 96 10:51:00 EDT

On Wednesday May 8th I begin teaching an accelerated course entitled
Applied Action Research, a core course in a graduate Master of Science in
Management program. This program is for leaders and change agents.

[Host's Note: Joe, could you add a note in this thread with a brief
definition of Action Research, preferably the definition you are using.
Thanks! ... Rick]

The course has been designed based on an imported model, has been taught
by local faculty only two times based on that model, and this is the first
time for me. I usually teach courses on organizational behavior and
organizational development. I chose to teach the Applied Action Research
course because I am interested in the subject, because it is integral to
the program, and because I am involved in rewriting the curriculum.

I have been peripherally gathering information on the subject (Action
Research) for approximately five years. My first exposure was in
preparation for a talk on Action Learning at an international conference
on corporate education. Since then, whenever I come across (usually
obtuse and cursory) references to AR I make a note or file a copy away.

Fortunately, I work as an OD consultant and can provide real-time examples
of data-based change efforts. As I struggle to put this course together,
however, I still somehow lack a coherent view and assemblage of Applied
Action Research theory, tools, assumptions, practices, applications, and
so on.

Most times I see something on AR or Action Science it really is just a
mention. I haven't really come across a concise and compelling source
describing and explaining the process. Recently I've seen it referred to
as participatory or endogenous research. That having been said, I do have
some of the foundational sources: Argyris; Watkins and Marsick; Mink,
Esterhuysen, Mink, and Owen; Bushe and Shani; some of the organizational
development literature Burke; French and Bell; Harvey and Brown; and,
finally, a book I've just ordered, but not yet received, Action Research
and Organizational Development (Cunningham).

What I DO know (or think I know) is that AR is not a single method or
approach, but a generic term relating to gathering data of organizational
relevance and using it to promote change. In this sense, it is what OD
people do, what organizations should or attempt to do in solving problems
and changing. In many ways it is what Organizational Learning is all
about: learning from problems; equipping human resources with learning
and problem solving skills to enhance adaptability.

The course is set up basically as a research course, though with an
applied (or implied) focus on organizations. I can't get excited about
teaching a research course. Action Learning or Action Research is much
more exciting to me, though I can't put my finger on why. I want the
course to be the most interesting, different, and relevant course these
graduate students take. At this point, I'm going on gut feeling, and
trusting that we will learn together using their organizations to produce
the issues and problems for us to address collaboratively.

ANY specific ideas or experiences you have would be most helpful. I hope
I have provided enough background to enable your focused suggestions.

I DO promise to update the LO net as we proceed or shortly thereafter,
providing a summary at least of the form the AR course takes, the
materials we use, and the process.


"Hays, Joe" <>

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