BEING PROACTIVE: WHERE ACTION RESEARCH MEETS DESIGN RESEARCH Robert Cole School of Information Sciences and Technology Pen...
Motivation <ul><li>Our Premise: To be  relevant , IS research community needs to take a proactive stance and conduct resea...
This Research <ul><li>Objective: Investigate mapping between AR and DR </li></ul><ul><li>Research Approach: cross-applicat...
Characterizing DR <ul><li>Design Research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Construction and evaluation of technology artifacts to mee...
Design research must be presented effectively both to technology-oriented as well as management-oriented audiences. 7. Com...
Characterizing AR <ul><li>Action Research (adapted, Baskerville 1999) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fundamentally a change-oriente...
Considered reflection and learning allow a researcher to make both a practical and theoretical contribution. 5. The Princi...
A ‘DR’ Exemplar <ul><li>Markus, M. L., Majchrzak, A., and Gasser, L. “A Design Theory for Systems That Support Emergent Kn...
Applying AR Criterion 4 to DR <ul><li>Criterion 4: The Principle of Change through Action </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation: <...
Applying AR Criterion 5 to DR <ul><li>Criterion 4: The Principle of Learning Through Reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Expectat...
Applying AR Criteria to DR Exemplar No explicit evidence of progress reporting but evidence of strong client engagement; r...
An ‘AR’ Exemplar <ul><li>Iversen, J. H., Mathiassen, L., and Nielsen, P. A. “Managing Risk in Software Process Improvement...
Applying DR Criterion 1 to AR <ul><li>Criterion 1: Design as an Artifact </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation: </li></ul><ul><ul>...
Applying DR Criterion 3 to AR <ul><li>Criterion 3: Design Evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>...
Applying DR Criteria to AR Exemplar Results were communicated to both practitioners and researchers 7. Communication of Re...
Implications <ul><li>Commonalities between AR and DR: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ontology :  the phenomenon of interest does no...
A Common Paradigm? <ul><li>Pragmatism </li></ul><ul><li>Applying the four tenets of pragmatism (that characterize AR) to D...
Cross-Fertilization <ul><li>Adding  Reflection  to Augment Learning from DR </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interjecting an AR cycle...
DR1 - Identifying a need AR1 - Diagnosing  a problem Problem  Definition DR2 - Building AR2 - Action planning AR3 - Action...
Future Work <ul><li>Investigate incommensurability, if any, between the assumptions underlying AR and DR </li></ul><ul><li...
BEING PROACTIVE: WHERE ACTION RESEARCH MEETS DESIGN RESEARCH Robert Cole  [email_address] Sandeep Purao  [email_address] M...
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The overlaps between Action Research and Design Research

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Cole, R. , Purao, S., Rossi, M., Sein, M. 2005. Being Proactive: Where Action Research meets Design Research. International Conference on Information Systems. (ICIS) Las Vegas, NV, December 11-14. Originally presented at ICIS.

Published in: Design, Technology, Education

Transcript of "The overlaps between Action Research and Design Research"

  1. 1. BEING PROACTIVE: WHERE ACTION RESEARCH MEETS DESIGN RESEARCH Robert Cole School of Information Sciences and Technology Penn State University University Park, PA U.S.A. [email_address] Matti Rossi Department of Management Helsinki School of Economics Helsinki, Finland [email_address] Sandeep Purao School of Information Sciences and Technology Penn State University University Park, PA U.S.A. [email_address] Maung K. Sein School of Management Agder University College Kristiansand, Norway [email_address] Presentation at ICIS 2005, Nevada, Las Vegas
  2. 2. Motivation <ul><li>Our Premise: To be relevant , IS research community needs to take a proactive stance and conduct research that: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>adds to theory i.e. make a scientific contribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>solves current or anticipated problems of practitioners </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research approaches with this dual orientation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Action Research (AR) and Design Research (DR). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Our belief: despite their traditional separation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They are fundamentally similar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They provide unique strengths and can inform each other </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. This Research <ul><li>Objective: Investigate mapping between AR and DR </li></ul><ul><li>Research Approach: cross-application of research criteria </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Select an exemplar study of each type of research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examine each type according to the criteria of the other type </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Question: Can an exemplar of one type be “recognized” by applying the criteria of the other type. </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipated Outcome: Exemplars in each type will satisfy the criteria from the other type. </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipated Interpretation: The two research types are fundamentally similar. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Characterizing DR <ul><li>Design Research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Construction and evaluation of technology artifacts to meet organizational needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Development of associated theories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Axiological emphasis on utility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Artifacts produced include (adapted, March and Smith 1995) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptual designs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Methods </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Models and Systems (prototypes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better theories </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Design research must be presented effectively both to technology-oriented as well as management-oriented audiences. 7. Communication of Research The search for an effective artifact requires utilizing available means to reach desired ends while satisfying laws in the problem environment. 6. Design as a search process Design research relies upon the application of rigorous methods in both the construction and evaluation of the design artifact. 5. Research Rigor Effective design research must provide clear and verifiable contributions in the areas of the design artifact, design foundations, and/or design methodologies. 4. Research Contributions The utility, quality, and efficacy of a design artifact must be rigorously demonstrated via well-executed evaluation plans. 3. Design Evaluation The object of design research is to develop technology-based solutions to important and relevant business problems. 2. Problem Relevance Design research must produce a viable artifact in the form of a construct, a model, a method, or an instantiation. 1. Design as an artifact Description Criterion Design Research Criteria (From A. R. Hevner, S. T. March, J. Park, and S. Ram, “Design Science in Information Systems Research,” MIS Quarterly (28:1), 2004, p. 83. Copyright © 2004, Regents of the University of Minnesota. Used with permission.)
  6. 6. Characterizing AR <ul><li>Action Research (adapted, Baskerville 1999) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fundamentally a change-oriented approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Central assumption: complex social processes can best be studied by introducing change into these processes and observing their effects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focuses on practical problems with theoretical relevance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Produces highly relevant results while simultaneously informing theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There are various flavors of AR </li></ul></ul>Our analysis will use criteria of canonical action research 
  7. 7. Considered reflection and learning allow a researcher to make both a practical and theoretical contribution. 5. The Principle of Learning Through Reflection Action and change are indivisible research elements related through intervention focused on producing change. 4. The Principle of Change Through Action Theory must play a central role in action research. 3. The Principle of Theory The CPM consists of the stages diagnosing, action planning, action taking, evaluating, and specifying learning. 2. Principle of Cyclical Process Model (CMP) The RCA provides the basis for mutual commitment and role expectations. 1. Principle of Researcher-Client Agreement (RCA) Description Criterion Canonical Action Research Criteria (Adapted from Davison, R. M., Martinsons, M. G., and Kock, N. “Principles of Canonical Action Research,” Information Systems Journal (14:1), 2004, pp. 65-86.)
  8. 8. A ‘DR’ Exemplar <ul><li>Markus, M. L., Majchrzak, A., and Gasser, L. “A Design Theory for Systems That Support Emergent Knowledge Processes,” MIS Quarterly (26:3), 2002, pp. 179-212. </li></ul><ul><li>This study presents the design and implementation of an IT system called technology organization and people integration modeler (TOP Modeler) for the support of an emergent knowledge process of organizational design. </li></ul>Detailed analysis of criteria 4 and 5: ‘Change through action’ ‘ Learning through reflection’ 
  9. 9. Applying AR Criterion 4 to DR <ul><li>Criterion 4: The Principle of Change through Action </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of practitioner motivation for change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of change resulting from design outputs - the improvement of a previously undesirable problem situation. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Findings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Client motivation is clearly present. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of behavioral change is apparent: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual level - users learning about their organizations, achieving consensus on design issues etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizational level - cancellation of a plant operation relocation based on identified weaknesses, postponement of international joint venture based on strategic differences uncovered through using TOP Modeler. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Applying AR Criterion 5 to DR <ul><li>Criterion 4: The Principle of Learning Through Reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of outcome reflection. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reporting of research results and implications. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Findings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No explicit reflection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of strong client engagement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research outcomes were clearly reported to the research community through articulation of several aspects of an activity area (EKP) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Applying AR Criteria to DR Exemplar No explicit evidence of progress reporting but evidence of strong client engagement; reporting of research outcomes 5. The Principle of Learning through Reflection Behavioral change evident at both the individual and organizational levels 4. The Principle of Change through Action Theory played central role in artifact development and theoretical contribution was made 3. The Principle of Theory Iterative design/evaluate process followed 2. The Principle of Cyclical Process Model (CPM) No explicit RCA but clear evidence of motivational factors 1. The Principle of Researcher-Client Agreement (RCA) Evidence found in the DR Exemplar AR Criterion
  12. 12. An ‘AR’ Exemplar <ul><li>Iversen, J. H., Mathiassen, L., and Nielsen, P. A. “Managing Risk in Software Process Improvement: An Action Research Approach,” MIS Quarterly (28:3), 2004, pp. 395-433. </li></ul><ul><li>The research was part of a larger research program and the specific aim of the project was to improve the implementation of software process initiative (SPI) practices. </li></ul>Detailed analysis of criteria 1 and 3: ‘Design as an Artifact,’ ‘Design Evaluation’ 
  13. 13. Applying DR Criterion 1 to AR <ul><li>Criterion 1: Design as an Artifact </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intervention in the organization will at least implicitly result in the creation of artifacts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Findings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No explicitly stated artifacts, But, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two implicit primary contributions: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>an SPI risk management framework and process </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>an approach to tailor risk management to specific contexts. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Applying DR Criterion 3 to AR <ul><li>Criterion 3: Design Evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Expectation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence of evaluation of organizational interventions due to the prominent role played by the evaluation stage in the CPM. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Findings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No specific evidence of explicit application of systematic evaluation criteria to the research outputs, but, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The SPI approach developed was evaluated according to the standard of utility to practitioners. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Through several iterations, the SPI framework was refined based on feedback until it reached a practically usable and stable form </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Applying DR Criteria to AR Exemplar Results were communicated to both practitioners and researchers 7. Communication of Research Four CPM cycles executed before the risk management approach was evaluated as stable and usable 6. Design as a Search Process Explicit discussion of adherence to canonical criteria and logic behind SPI 5. Research Rigor Several theoretical contributions present 4. Research Contributions Evaluation based on utility to practitioners 3. Design Evaluation Clear evidence of relevance due to high resource commitment by organizations involved 2. Problem Relevance Instantiation of SPI models and methods (implicit) 1. Design as an Artifact Evidence found in the AR Exemplar DR Criterion
  16. 16. Implications <ul><li>Commonalities between AR and DR: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ontology : the phenomenon of interest does not remain static through the research process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>DR criterion 6, AR criterion 1. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Epistemology : knowledge is created through intervening to effect change, and reflecting on this intervention. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>DR criterion 1 AR, AR criterion 4. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Axiology : both value the relevance of the research problem, and emphasise practical utility and theoretical knowledge. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>DR criteria 2 and 3 and AR criterion 5 are applicable to one another. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. A Common Paradigm? <ul><li>Pragmatism </li></ul><ul><li>Applying the four tenets of pragmatism (that characterize AR) to DR: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consequences defining concepts : In DR, there is a need to establish the purpose of the resultant artefact. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practical outcome embodying truth : The focus of DR is practical action, which ensures that the notion of truth lies in the utility of the produced artefact. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Logic of controlled inquiry : The essence of DR is that designing must inform theory in that the produced artefact should embody a theoretical premise or a “new idea,” which can be evaluated by evaluating the artefact. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social context of action : In DR, the act of designing is socially and organizationally situated, specifically in our conceptualization. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Cross-Fertilization <ul><li>Adding Reflection to Augment Learning from DR </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interjecting an AR cycle at the last stage of the DR process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A DR project may be framed as an AR project if an organizational problem needs to be solved, and the action involves building a system </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Concretizing Learning from AR by Adding Build </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Frame the output of AR as a DR artifact, such as prototypes, frameworks, or models </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enhancing the AR action taking phase by including the building of a design artefact. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Envisioning an AR-DR Integrated Research Process </li></ul>
  19. 19. DR1 - Identifying a need AR1 - Diagnosing a problem Problem Definition DR2 - Building AR2 - Action planning AR3 - Action taking DR3 - Evaluating AR4 – Evaluating reflecting AR5 – Specifying learning DR4 – Learning DR5 - Theorizing Intervention Evaluation Reflection and Learning An Integrated Research Process
  20. 20. Future Work <ul><li>Investigate incommensurability, if any, between the assumptions underlying AR and DR </li></ul><ul><li>Deeper analysis of the epistemological roots of the two approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Examine the historical and institutional roots of the two approaches to explore why the disconnect exists </li></ul><ul><li>Explore other methods of cross-fertilization between the two approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Apply the integrated research process in a project </li></ul>
  21. 21. BEING PROACTIVE: WHERE ACTION RESEARCH MEETS DESIGN RESEARCH Robert Cole [email_address] Sandeep Purao [email_address] Matti Rossi [email_address] Maung Sein [email_address] Presentation at ICIS 2005, Nevada, Las Vegas Questions? Frågor? Kysymyksiä? Vragen? ¿Preguntas?

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