Dialogical Action Research at Omega Corporation

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Abstract

In dialogical action research, the scientific researcher does not “speak science” or otherwise attempt to teach scientific theory to the real-world practitioner, but instead attempts to speak the language of the practitioner and accepts him as the expert on his organization and its problems. Recognizing the difficulty that a practitioner and a scientific researcher can have in communicating across the world of science and the world of practice, dialogical action research offers, as its centerpiece, reflective one-on-one dialogues between the practitioner and the scientific researcher, taking place periodically in a setting removed from the practitioner’s organization. The dialogue itself serves as the interface between the world of science, marked by theoria and the scientific attitude, and the world of the practitioner, marked by praxis and the natural attitude of everyday life. The dialogue attempts to address knowledge heterogeneity, which refers to the different forms that knowledge takes in the world of science and the world of practice, and knowledge contextuality, which refers to the dependence of the meaning of knowledge, such as a scientific theory or professional expertise, on its context. In successive dialogues, the scientific researcher and the practitioner build a mutual understanding, including an understanding of the organization and its problems. The scientific researcher, based on one or more of the scientific theories in her discipline, formulates and suggests one or more actions for the practitioner to take in order to solve or remedy a problem in his organization. Dialogical action research recognizes that the practitioner’s experience, expertise, and tacit knowledge, or praxis, largely shapes how he understands the suggested actions and appropriates them as his own. Upon returning to his organization, he takes one or more of the suggested actions, depending on his reading of the situation at hand. The reactions or responses of the problem to the actions or stimuli of the practitioner would embody, in the practitioner’s eyes, success or failure in solving or remedying the problem and, in the scientific researcher’s eyes, evidence confirming or disconfirming the theory on which the action was based. The scientific researcher may then suggest, based on her theories, additional actions, hence initiating another cycle of action and learning. To illustrate dialogical action research, this paper reconstructs some dialogues between an information systems researcher and a managing director at a European company called Omega Corporation.

Additional Details

Author Par Martensson and Allen S. Lee
Year 2004
Volume 28
Issue 3
Keywords Action research, qualitative research, research methods, case studies, phenomenology
Page Numbers 507-536