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Action Research and Organizational Change

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1 Action Research and Organizational Change
Supplement to the interview with Dr. Hadley Williams, Managing Director at Human Productivity; conducted by Jesse Jacoby, Managing Principal at Emergent in January 2011 The entire interview is posted online at

2 What is Action Research?
A research methodology that seeks practical solutions to challenges and problems that organizations face. Similar to applied research Research question(s) Defined subject group An intervention/ independent variable Data collection and analysis Solutions/conclusions drawn Sometimes used interchangeably with the term Action Learning Unique difference is the use of participants/subjects as researchers Often a facilitator guides the group through all phases of a research project

3 How is Action Research Relevant to Change Management?
Discovery of a phenomena called “change management effect” Participants in Action Research projects that investigated new processes required by transformational change became “sold” on the new processes without any change management intervention. Participants became advocates of the new processes with their peers Action Research is not intended to change people—it is intended to discover new information and knowledge about a subject or problem The “change management effect” is a nice by-product of the process

4 Where Can I Find Additional Information About Action Research?
People & Strategy Journal will feature an article on action research in the April, 2011 issue Minimize Costly Implementation Surprises: Conduct Action Research To Test Organizational Design; Williams, H. & Boetcher, K. in People & Strategy, April, 2011 Contact me directly

5 Select References Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (eds). (2008). The sage handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (2nd edition). London: Sage. Schein, E. H. (1995). Process consultation, action research and clinical inquiry: Are they the same? Journal of Managerial Psychology, 10(6). Givens, L. (ed) The sage handbook on research methods. London: Sage. Marquardt, M. (2004). Optimizing the power of action learning: Solving problems and building leaders in real time. Boston: Davies-Black.

6 Thank You for Your Interest!

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