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Insider action research: premises and promises

Madhu Ranjan Kumar (Indian Railways, Delhi, India)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 8 February 2013




This paper aims at developing a set of guidelines for potential inside action researchers (IARrs).


Action research was done in three units of Indian Railways. At each unit two IARrs were engaged. The six IARrs and the author (also an IARr at one of the units) used reflection during action and reflection after action to conduct the action research.


The paper shows that IARrs must carry good credibility, relationships have to be continually worked, ethical clearance must be dynamic to the emerging situations and the IARrs should not emphasize the pattern of their previous interactions with the members of the research world.

Research limitations/implications

The research is based on the action research done in manufacturing units within Indian bureaucracy. The generalization of findings to other organizational set up was not verified.

Practical implications

It brings out specific “dos” and “don'ts” for a prospective IARr.


This paper contributes to the action research method by bringing out new issues faced by IARrs while conducting insider action research in large organizations. With respect to large‐scale change, it brings out that perception of shared world among IARrs facilitates large scale change. Middle managers are better suited as IARr than top managers and an ab‐initio large scale planning is not necessary to cause a large scale change in the long run.



Ranjan Kumar, M. (2013), "Insider action research: premises and promises", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 169-189.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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