Qualitative Research in Information Systems: References on Action Research
Section Editor: 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.
[Introduction] [Citations in Information Systems] [Citations in Other Disciplines]
[Back to Qualitative Research in Information Systems]
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 Kemmis and McTaggart (1988) is very useful, as is the Human Relations Special Issue which was devoted to action research (see Elden and Chisholm, 1994).
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 Research (Baskerville and Myers, 2004). All the articles from that issue are listed below (MISQ Volume 28 Number 3).
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, AIS E-library.
Baskerville, 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 329-335.
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, pp 337-362.
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, 1998.
A web version of Davison’s PhD thesis is available.
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., Martinsons, M.G. and Malaurent, J. Improving Action Research by Integrating Methods, Journal of the AIS (22:3), 2021, pp. 851-873.
Davison, R.M., Martinsons, M.G. and Ou, C.X.J. (2012) The Roles of Theory in Canonical Action Research, Management Information Systems Quarterly (36:3), 2021, pp. 763-786.
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 Information 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.
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.
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. 31-68.
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. 179-212.
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. 321-345.
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 practitioners.
Sein, M., Henfridsson, O., Purao, S., Rossi, M., and Lindgren, R. 2011. “Action Design Research,” MIS Quarterly (35:2), pp. 37-56.
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, Amsterdam, 1985.
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, 1978.
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. 19-34.
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, pp. 275-298.
Clark, P.A. Action Research and Organizational Change, Harper and Row, London, 1972.
Cunningham, B. “Action Research: Toward a Procedural Model,” Human Relations (29:3), 1976, pp. 215-238.
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. 1361-1365.
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.
Kemmis, S. 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, London, 1983.
Susman, 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.