What is Action Research?

Action Research SpiralAction research is the practice of engaging one’s community and self into an iterative process that is focused understanding and improving the issues impacting an organization.  It differs from traditional research in that the participants and researcher play integral roles in the research process.  Together they collaborate in this systematic approach of observation, analysis, action, and reflection.

This method of research was appropriate for this study because it allowed the researcher to work alongside the participants within the environment and to make necessary changes to the actions as they were identified.  The nature of this project lent itself to making changes dynamically and identifying the impact of each change.  The inclusion of multiple cycles allowed changes to be made throughout the process, which can include issues not originally identified at the project start.  Action research allows for collaborative identification and inclusions by the community of changes within the organization.

My role as an action researcher was to provide leadership within the project, identify and set up a collaborative environment, and encourage participation throughout the study.  Action research allowed me to do all of these things while also monitoring the environment for research results and potential changes to be included in future cycles.  The problem that I addressed is how to increase communication within my organization in an effort to improve relationships that can enhance collaboration within teams.  I predicted that increasing communication in the workplace would improve relationships.  As more co-workers build better relationships within the organization, I hypothesized that this would lead to improved collaboration and yield better results for the company.  The question that I strove to answer with this research was, How can I increase the level of communication in our company to help to foster better relationships and enhance collaboration?