Action Research at UKAIS research methods master class
Action Research: …more
learning from action and
applying original thinking...
‘Story’ of Developing
A Post ‘Story’
Rationalisation of an Action Research Project
and Research Process
Acting and experiencing
Data gathering, library work,
fieldwork activities undertaken
while suspending most other
Removal from the situation,
analysis of the previous
experience w/o additional
source of input, formulation
of grounded insights
Evaluating (The Meta-Stage)
Evaluating the entire cycle in
terms of its help in the
development of the researcher,
the area of concern and the
Communicating and Planning
Creating closure on what has
been learnt, posing new questions,
receiving feedback on closure,
setting new goals
Combining reflections with
ideas and theories developed
elsewhere, sifting, recombining,
testing one's set against others,
developing new ideas
Narrative 1 (‘What’ )
• AAct 1ct 1: Conceptual comparison and construction of the: Conceptual comparison and construction of the
Multiview MethodologyMultiview Methodology
• Act 2: Using this methodology in six action research cases and
learn about the methodology, problem solvers and area of
• Act 3: Reflection on the theory of Multiview-1 after assimilating
the lessons and integrating ideas
Area of Concern
of IS Development Methods
The One Best
SOL BUBENKO BJØRN-ANDERSEN
Disappointing but 4
views are needed:
Multiview Framework and Methodology
-How will it affect me?
-Will my job change?
-What will I have to do?
-What inputs and outputs are
-What data are involved?
-How do I maintain the system?
-What happens when it goes
-Is the system performing as
-What errors are detected?
-What information will I get?
-What will it do?
Inputs and Outputs
-Will it affect
anything else in
Analyse and Design
Narrative 2 (‘What’ )
• Act 1: Conceptual comparison and construction of the Multiview
• Act 2:Using this methodology in six action research cases and learnAct 2:Using this methodology in six action research cases and learn
about the methodology, problem solvers and area of concernabout the methodology, problem solvers and area of concern
• Act 3: Reflection on the theory of Multiview after assimilating the lessons and
Multiview Action Research Cases
1. Professional Institute. These cases
represented the initial applications
of the methodology in the practical
world. Here the methodology was
devised and” formalised" in
2. Naive Systems Analysts' Cases.
These were used for the education
of undergraduate students on a final
degree course in Systems Analysis.
Establishment of a Spin-Off
3. A Distance Learning Unit. This case
gives a full implementation by
utilising prototyping and fourth
to Derive Findings
The political and initial terms of
climate, the personal
The analysts (and their
experience), participation and
non-participation of u sers in
the problem solving process.
Documentation of t he work
and relating to the phases of the
Action Results of t he work, the
attitudes and satisfaction of the
users in the situation
Theory Which, perspectives reflects on
the use of the Multiview
participation in terms of
developing an Information
System in context.
Theory:- No. 4.
Information System Definition
Utilsing an Intellectual
Framework as a Synthesis
Problem Context No. 3.
Analysis and Design of
Information Systems in
Small Organisations Using
Systems Analysts and Users
as Problem Solvers
Action No 7.
Tools and Techniques No. 6.
Developing Tools and
Methodology No. 5.
consisting of 4 Views
Narrative (‘What’ )
• Act 1: Conceptual comparison and construction of the
• Act 2: Using this methodology in six action research
cases and learn about the methodology, problem
solvers and area of concern
• Act 3Act 3: Reflections on the theory of Multiview after: Reflections on the theory of Multiview after
assimilating the lessons and integrating ideasassimilating the lessons and integrating ideas
• Conclusion 1- The
• Conclusion 2- Defining an
Information System was
• Conclusion 3 - Defining an
information system ought
to be considered as a social
process as well as technical
• Theoretical Explanations of
Variations of our ‘Characters’ in
1. a paradigm of assumptions is constructed in
2. metaphorical design.
3. another plausible plot is the web model
PAR TICI PATI ON
DATA ANA LYSI S
S TRUC TURE D AN ALYSI S
WATERF ALL MODE LS
CO NTI NGEN CY
TH EOR Y
"SO FT"ASPECT S
‘Story’ of Developing
Background to Britvic Soft Drinks Ltd
• Britvic is a leading U.K. manufacturer and distributor of fast-moving consumer
– At the time of the project it had over 2700 employees and a turnover in excess of 600 million
GB pounds. It makes and distributes a wide range of ‘household’ branded products.
• Before the AR project began, Britvic had been conducting a study into the use
of KM technology and a decision had been made to acquire KM software.
– The authors were aware that little academic research had been done to investigate the
application of KM in the manufacturing sector in the U.K. This created the potential for an AR
project to ‘fill the knowledge gap’, and the fact that Britvic was already interested in adopting
KM software made this a suitable choice of organisation for the AR study.
• Managers at Britvic also felt that the organisation needed to understand the
implications of the exploitation of KM and the adoption of KM technology for
its existing well-developed IS planning and development strategies.
– lacking was an agreed definition of KM, a general understanding within the organisation of the
potential of KM and what was required from KM technologies.
AR in practice – deriving ALTAR
• AR has been used with apparent success in a number of projects that have
similar properties to or are in similar domains to the Britvic research.
• Recognises the importance of a top-level AR cycle for developing and
managing a collaborative project.
• The value of iteration as a way of ‘building learning’ is identified with
apparent success in AR terms.
• A version of the action research cycle (Susman and Evered, 1978)
AR in practice – deriving ALTAR
• This iteration of cycles can be combined into a series of phases, each with a different purpose,
which makes AR a powerful and flexible methodology for carrying out academic and industrial
collaborative research that is proven in practice. It was decided to follow the key strategies
aimed at improving the rigour and contribution of AR (Baskerville & Wood-Harper, 1996)
– The ‘paradigm shift’ the University researchers planned to make sure that AR was appropriate for the
research domain and that the outcomes and learning would be of interest.
– A formal research agreement was to be drawn up at an early stage to define the ethical guidelines, to
ensure that the subject participants gave ‘informed consent’ and that the Terms of Reference would
authorise the research team to operate within the organisation.
– A theoretical problem statement was defined as a premise to ensure that the intervention action would
be valid as research and to provide a basis for any theories that may emerge from the research.
– Data collection methods were planned as part of the operational level of the AR, including acquiring
the technology to record workshops, make transcripts of meetings and to maintain structured diaries ).
– Collaboration and subject learning were promoted at the initiation of the AR project and steps were
taken to foster and to maintain collaboration between the researchers and the participating subjects.
– Iterations or cycles of AR were planned, which would continue until the immediate problem situation
was explored in sufficient depth and were revealed (and possibly ‘solved’) to a satisfactory level.
– Generalisation of results or theories was expected, but it was recognised that, ‘Generalities must be
tempered with an interpretation of the extent of similar settings to which the theory can be expected to
apply’ (Baskerville & Wood-Harper, 1996).
Findings from Britvic
1. A ‘paradigm shift’ and change was implicit in the ALTAR process, most
participants responded positively to the notion of change, as they felt
more involved and ‘useful’ than if the change had been imposed from
2. The formal agreement and work that was done on project initiation was
essential in defining in advance and maintaining a management focus for
the project. Experience from our research indicates that academic–
industrial research collaboration of this nature requires very careful
negotiation of exactly what is involved in the project.
3. Academic theories that were informed by the AR process formed the basis
of an outcome that was tested rigorously in academic terms (Sharp, 2004).
It was clearly possible to differentiate between AR in this case and
consultancy (Baskerville, 1999).
‘Story’ of Developing
(Singh and Wood-
MBS: IS AR Research Impact?
(Shah, Wood-Harper & Prichard, CACM
MBS has recognized the importance of
original thinking and the importance of
applying that thinking
The focus is not just on the theoretical part
but also the practical application of new
Further MBS recognises that better
management theories come from closer
interaction between theory and practice
IS as a discipline pervades through the
School and is a part of all the divisions of
the School (i.e. Strategy and IS, Marketing
and IS, Organizations and IS, and
Accounting and Financial Information
Manchester Business School’s
recent motto ‘Original Thinking
Can be reworked to express the
relationship between original
thinking and practice (Wood-
Harper and Shah 2010)
Emphasizing how original thinking
can learn from practice while
providing opportunities for original
thinking to impact practice (Shah,
Eardley & Wood-Harper, 2007a,
Linking Practice, Theory and Research
IS and organizations are
pervasive - need to
understand rapidly changing
We have to recognize the role
collaboration in research
Research must be in
partnership with industry and
also needs to be able to make
sense of social networking
driven progress and change
• Important not only for impact but also to give researchers understanding
and insight into research and progression that is resulting in practice at a
• Research we undertake and the impact that we achieve will be evaluated
under future research evaluation frameworks and will therefore affect our
• Increasingly recognized by leading Business Schools that publications
alone will not be sufficient - research must be applied and therefore needs
collaboration with industry in order to achieve our impact aspirations.