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Distinguishing action research from participative case studies

Richard L. Baskerville (School of Management, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York)

Journal of Systems and Information Technology

ISSN: 1328-7265

Article publication date: 1 March 1997


Action researchers contend that a complex social process can be studied best by introducing changes into that process and observing the effects of these changes. The approach used by organizational consultants must also introduce change, but in this case, the theoretical development and the rigorous empirical foundation are prerequisite elements of the activity. Participative case studies are a common scientific report proceeding from consulting projects. This paper discusses the contrasts between the action research method, consulting, and participative case studies. Ethical problems arise when action research is knowingly or unknowingly conflated with consultation practices, since this combination makes the usual set of action research dilemmas even more problematic. An improved understanding of the action research‐consulting contrasts aids in distinguishing the contributions of participative case studies to the information systems literature.



Baskerville, R.L. (1997), "Distinguishing action research from participative case studies", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 24-43.




Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited