Qualitative Research in Information Systems: References on Action Research
Michael D. Myers
This is a list of references on action research. After a brief introduction which suggests those works which are essential reading for newcomers to the field, the list is organized into two parts: the first part lists citations related to the approach in Information Systems, the second lists citations related to the approach in other disciplines. Please note that this list contains a few suggestions only and is not intended to be comprehensive. I encourage you to search Google Scholar, the AIS e-library and/or some other bibliographic database for a more complete and up-to-date list.
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A brief introduction to the action research method is
the article by
Susman and Evered (1978). For a more in-depth look at
the method, the collection of articles by
McTaggart (1988) is very useful, as is the Human
Relations Special Issue which was devoted to action
research (see Elden and
In Information Systems, a good place to start would be
the articles by
Baskerville and Wood-Harper (1996), and
Checkland (1991). From there,
I suggest you look at the collection of articles published
in the MIS Quarterly Special Issue on Action
and Myers, 2004). All the articles from that issue are
listed below (MISQ Volume 28 Number 3). For a PhD thesis in IS using the action research method,
see Kock (1997).
Citations in Information Systems
Avison, D.E., Baskerville, R. and Myers, M.D.
"Controlling action research projects," Information
Technology & People (14:1), 2001, pp. 28-45.
Avison, David, Francis Lau, Michael D.
Myers and Peter Axel Nielson. "Action Research,"
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 42, No. 1, January
1999, pp. 94-97.
Baskerville, R. "Investigating Information
Systems with Action Research," Communications of the AIS (2:19) 1999,
R., and Myers, M.D. "Special Issue on Action Research in
Information Systems: Making IS Research Relevant to
Practice-Foreword," MIS Quarterly (28:3) 2004, pp
Baskerville, R. and Pries-Heje, J.
"Grounded action research: a method for understanding IT
in practice," Accounting, Management and Information
Technologies (9:1), 1999, pp. 1-23.
Baskerville, R.L. and Wood-Harper, A.T. "A Critical
Perspective on Action Research as a Method for Information
Systems Research," Journal of Information Technology
(11), 1996, pp. 235-246.
Baskerville, R.L. and Wood-Harper, A.T. "Diversity in
information systems action research methods," European
Journal of Information Systems (7), 1998, pp. 90-107.
Braa, J., Monteiro, E., and Sahay, S. "Networks Of
Action: Sustainable Health Information Systems Across
Developing Countries," MIS Quarterly (28:3) 2004,
Checkland, P. "From
framework through experience to learning: the essential
nature of action research," in Information Systems
Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions,
H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein, R.A. Hirschheim (eds.),
North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1991, pp. 397-403.
Davison, R.M. "An Action Research Perspective of Group
Support Systems: How to Improve Meetings in Hong Kong,"
Unpublished PhD thesis, City University of Hong Kong,
A web version of Davison's PhD thesis is
Davison, R.M. "GSS and Action Research in the Hong Kong
Police Force," Information Technology and People
(14:1), 2001, pp. 60-77.
Davison, R.M., Martinsons, M.G., and Kock, N.
"Principles of canonical action research," Information
Systems Journal (14), 2004, pp. 65-86.
Davison, R.M. and Vogel, D.R. "Group Support Systems in
Hong Kong: An Action Research Project," Information
Systems Journal (10:1), 2000, pp. 3-20.
Henfridsson, O., and Lindgren, R. "Multi-Contextuality
in Ubiquitous Computing: Investigating the Car Case
through Action Research," Information and Organization
(15:2), 2005, pp. 95-124.
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.
Jonsson, S. "Action Research," in
Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent
Traditions, H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein and R.A.
Hirschheim (eds.), North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1991.
Kock, N.F. Jr. The
Effects of Asynchronous Groupware on Business Process
Improvement. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of
Waikato, New Zealand, 1997.
This research investigates the effects of
asynchronous groupware on group-based business process
improvement efforts. Thirty-eight business process
improvement groups were facilitated in three
organisations over four iterations of the action
research cycle proposed by Susman and Evered. The
asynchronous groupware tool used to support these groups
was an e-mail conferencing system. A web version of
Kock's PhD thesis is
Kock, N. "Action research: Lessons learned from a multi-iteration study of computer-mediated communication in groups," IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, (46), 2003, pp. 105-128.
Kock, N.F., Jr., McQueen, R.J. and Scott, J.L. "Can
Action Research be Made More Rigorous in a Positivist
Sense? The Contribution of an Iterative Approach,"
Journal of Systems and Information Technology, (1:1),
1997, pp. 1-24.
A web version of the above paper is
Kohli, R., and Kettinger, W.J. "Informating The Clan:
Controlling Physicians' Costs And Outcomes," MIS
Quarterly (28:3) 2004, pp 363-394.
Lau, F. "A Review on the Use of Action Research in
Information Systems Studies," in Information Systems
and Qualitative Research, A.S. Lee, J. Liebenau and
J.I. DeGross (eds.), Chapman and Hall, London, 1997, pp.
Lee, A.S., Baskerville, R.L. and Davies, L. "A Workshop
on Two Techniques for Qualitative Data Analysis: Action
Research and Ethnography," Proceedings of the
Thirteenth International Conference on Information Systems,
1992, p. 305-306.
Lee, A.S., Baskerville, R.L., Liebenau, J. and Myers,
M.D. "Judging Qualitative Research in Information Systems:
Criteria for Accepting and Rejecting Manuscripts,"
Proceedings of the Sixteenth International Conference on
Information Systems, 1995.
Levin, M. "Action Research and Critical Systems
Thinking: Two Icons Carved Out of the Same Log?", Systems Practice (7:1), 1994, pp. 25-41.
Lindgren, R., Henfridsson, O., and Schultze, U. "Design
Principles For Competence Management Systems: A Synthesis
Of An Action Research Study," MIS Quarterly (28:3)
2004, pp 435-472.
Mansell, G. "Action research in information systems
development," Journal of Information Systems (1),
1991, pp. 29-40.
Markus, M.L., Majchrzak, A., and Gasser, L. "A Design
Theory for Systems that Support Emergent Knowledge
Processes," MIS Quarterly (26:3), 2002, pp.
Mårtensson, P., and Lee, A.S. "Dialogical Action
Research At Omega Corporation," MIS Quarterly
(28:3) 2004, pp 507-536.
Mathiasen, L. "Collaborative practice research,"
Information Technology & People (14:4), 2002, pp.
Sein, M., Henfridsson, O., Purao, S., Rossi, M., and Lindgren, R. 2011. "Action Design Research," MIS Quarterly (35:2), pp. 37-56.
Reports from a systems development research tradition
in which emphasis is put on relating research activities
to practice and on establishing fruitful collaboration
between groups of researchers and practitioners.
Describes and evaluates a specific research project in
which a large group of researchers and practitioners
worked together to understand, support, and improve
systems development practices in four organisations over
a period of three years. Uses the case to reflect on the
research goals, approaches, and results involved in this
tradition for researching systems development practice.
Proposes collaborative practice research as a way to
organise and conduct research into systems development
practice based on close collaboration between
researchers and practitioners. Exemplifies the use of
pluralist research methodology by combining action
research with experiments and conventional practice
studies. Argues that collaborative practice research
offers one practical way to strike a useful balance
between relevance and rigour. Concludes with a
discussion of the implications for the relation between
research and practice within the systems development
discipline and with lessons on how to design research
efforts as collaborations between researchers and
Street, C.T., and Meister, D.B. "Small Business Growth
And Internal Transparency: The Role Of Information
Systems," MIS Quarterly (28:3) 2004, pp 473-506.
Warmington, A. "Action Research: Its Methods and its
Implications," Journal of Applied Systems Analysis
(7), 1980, pp. 23-39.
Wood-Harper, A.T. "Research Methods in Information
Systems: Using Action Research," in Research Methods
in Information Systems, E. Mumford, R.A. Hirschheim,
G. Fitzgerald and A.T. Wood-Harper (eds.), North-Holland,
Wood-Harper, A.T. "Viewpoint: Action Research,"
Journal of Information Systems (2), 1992, pp.235-236.
Ytterstad, P., Akselsen,
S., Svendsen, G. and Watson, R.T. "Teledemocracy: Using
Information Technology to Enhance Political Work,"
MISQ Discovery (1), 1996.
Citations in Other Disciplines
Argyris, C., Putnam, R. and Smith, D. Action
Science, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1985.
Argyris, C. and Schön, D. Organizational Learning: A
Theory of Action Perspective. Addison-Wesley, Reading,
Argyris, Chris, and Donald A. Schön. "Participatory
Action Research and Action Science Compared: A
Commentary", in: William Foote Whyte (ed.),
Participatory Action Research, Sage, Newbury Park,
CA, 1991, pp. 85-98.
Baburoglu, O.N. and Ravn, I. "Normative Action
Research." Organization Studies (13:1), 1992, pp.
Blum, F. "Action research - a scientific approach?"
Philosophy of Science 22 (January), 1955, pp. 1-7.
Brown, L.D. and Tandon, R. "Ideology and Political
Economy in Inquiry: Action Research and Participatory
Research," Journal of Applied Behavioural Science
(19), 1983, pp. 277-285.
Carr, W. and
Kemmis, S. Becoming Critical: Education, Knowledge and
Action Research, Falmer Press, London, 1986.
Chisholm, R.F. and Elden, M. "Features of Emerging
Action Research," Human Relations (46:2), 1993,
Clark, P.A. Action
Research and Organizational Change, Harper and Row,
Cunningham, B. "Action Research: Toward a Procedural
Model," Human Relations (29:3), 1976, pp.
Elden, M. and
Chisholm, R.F. "Emerging Varieties of Action Research:
Introduction to the Special Issue," Human Relations
(46:2), 1993, pp. 121-142.
Eden, Colin, and Chris Huxham. "Action Research for
Management Research", British Journal of Management,
(7), 1991, pp. 75-86.
Greenwood, D.J., Whyte, W.W. and Harkavy, I.
"Participatory Action Research as a Process and as a
Goal," Human Relations (46:2), 1993, pp. 175-192.
Gustavsen, B. "Action Research and the Generation of
Knowledge," Human Relations (46:10), 1993, pp.
Harris, R.T. "Improving Patient Satisfaction Through
Action Research," Journal of Applied Behavioral
Science (14:3), 1978, pp. 382-399.
Heller, F. "Another Look at Action Research," Human
Relations (46:10), 1993, pp. 1235-1242.
Hindle, T., Checkland, P., Mumford, M. and Worthington,
D. "Developing a Methodology for Multidisciplinary Action
Research: A Case Study," Journal of the Operational
Research Society (46:4), 1995, pp. 453-464.
Hult, M. and Lennung, S-A. "Towards a Definition of
Action Research: A Note and Bibliography," Journal of
Management Studies, May 1980, pp. 241-250.
Johnston, S. and Proudford, C. "Action Research: Who
Owns the Process?," Educational Review (46:1),
1994, pp. 3-14.
Karlsen, J.I. "Action Research as a Method," in
Participatory Action Research, W.F. Whyte (ed.), Sage
Publications, New York, 1991.
and McTaggart, R. The Action Research Reader.
Third edition. Deakin University Press, Victoria, 1988.
Ledford, G.E.Jr. and Mohrman, S.A. "Self-Design for
High Involvement: A Large-Scale Organizational Change,"
Human Relations (46:1), 1993, pp. 143-173.
Lewin, K. "Frontiers in Group Dynamics: II. Channels of
Group Life; Social Planning and Action Research,"
Human Relations (1:2), pp. 143-153.
Lippit, G. and Lippit, R. The Consulting Process in
Action. University Associates, San Diego, CA, 1978.
McTaggart, R. Action Research: A Short Modern
History, Deakin University Press, Geelong, 1991.
Nosek, J.T. and Yaverbaum, G. "Overcoming Obstacles to
University and industry Synergy in Information System
Education: Lessons from Action Research," Education
for Information, (9), 1991, pp. 3-19.
Peters, M. and Robinson, V. "The Origins and Status of
Action Research," Journal of Applied Behavioral
Science (20:2), 1984, pp. 113-124.
Rapoport, R.N. "Three
Dilemmas in Action Research," Human Relations,,
(23:6), 1970, pp. 499-513.
Robinson, V.M.J. "Current Controversies in Action
Research," em>Public Administration Quarterly
(17:3), 1993, pp. 263-290.
Susman, G.I. "Action Research: A Sociotechnical systems
perspective," in Beyond Method: Strategies for Social
Science Research, G. Morgan (ed.), Sage Publications,
G.I. and Evered, R.D. "An Assessment of the Scientific
Merits of Action Research," Administrative Science
Quarterly, (23) 1978, pp. 582-603.
Trist, E. "Engaging with large-scale systems," in
Experimenting with Organizational Life: The Action
Research Approach, A. Clark (ed.), Plenum, New York,
1976, pp. 43-75.
Whyte, W.F. (ed.). Participatory Action Research,
Sage Publications, New York, 1991.
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