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Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization

Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization

Fourth Edition
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March 2014 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The Fourth Edition of this best-selling book is packed full of practical, expert advice on how to navigate the murky waters of ethics, politics and management in your own organization. Multidisciplinary in its approach to action research, the book sets out a step-by-step template for researchers to follow and adapt.

Coghlan and Brannick:

  • Introduce and contextualize action research as a method
  • Provide guidance on how to design and implement your action research project
  • Explore interlevel dynamics
  • Discuss role duality and access
  • Suggest effective ways to analyze your data
  • Provide helpful tips on how to disseminate your findings.

The book and supporting companion website are the ideal resource for students, researchers and practitioners hoping to generate real change through their action research project and will be particularly relevant to those studying Business and Management, Nursing and Health, Education and Sociology.

Introducing Action Research
Inquiring in your own organization

A brief introduction to action research

Three audiences, voices or practices

Enacting action research cycles

The action research cycles

Pre-step: context and purpose

Main steps


Quality and rigour in action research


Recommended reading

Exercise 1.1: Enacting the action research cycles

Knowing in Action
Knowing and learning

General empirical method


Action science and collaborative developmental inquiry as first-person practice

Second-person skills


Recommended reading

Exercise 2.1 First-person knowing in action

Exercise 2.2 Keeping a journal

Exercise 2.3 Developing inquiry skills

Understanding Action Research
Action Research as practical knowing

The foundations of action research

The philosophy of action research

Modalities of action research

Organization development through action research


Recommended reading

Constructing and Selecting Your Insider Project
Constructing the action research project

Selecting the research project

Writing an insider action research proposal

Developing the action research


Recommended reading

Exercise 4.1 Questions for constructing and selecting

Exercise 4.2 Writing a thesis proposal

Designing and Implementing Your Action Research Project
The process of planned change

Planned change through action research

Learning mechanisms

Data generation as intervention

The role of technology

How do you know when to stop?


Recommended reading

Exercise 5.1 The process of implementation

Exercise 5. 2 Reflection for praxis

Interlevel Dynamics in Insider Action Research
Interlevel dynamics of change

Interlevel dynamics of strategy

Levels of analysis in action research


Recommended reading

Exercise 6.1 Applying interlevel dynamics

Exercise 6.2 Change issues

Exercise 6.3 The learning window

Using Frameworks to Study Organizations in Action
Organizational diagnosis

Systems thinking and practice

Change and learning


Recommended reading

Exercise 7.1 Understanding Your Organization

Exercise 7.2 Using Systems Thinking

Researching Your Own Organization
Focus of the researcher and system

Quadrant 1

Quadrant 2

Quadrant 3

Quadrant 4

Action Research at Home


Recommended reading

Exercise 8.1 Assessing your research focus

Preunderstanding, Role Duality and Access

Role duality: Organizational and researcher roles



Recommended reading

Exercise 9.1 Assessing Your Preunderstanding

Managing Ethics and Organizational Politics


Integrating roles, politics and ethics


Recommended reading

Exercise 10.1 Assessing ethics and politics

Exercise 10.2 Force field analysis

Writing up Your Insider Action Research Work
An action research dissertation

Constructing and writing your dissertation




Recommended reading

In Conclusion

A comprehensive, accessible and informative text, this is ideal for any undergraduate or postgraduate research student – it clearly guides the reader through theory, implementation & the operational challenges of undertaking action research within your own organisation

David Gaylard, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Chichester University
Chichester University

'This fourth edition of Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization ismuch more than a research methodology textbook. It is a hybrid, combining theory with a practitioner’s reference, to provide a window into understanding the complexity, challenges and rewards of insider action research (AR)....The book speaks to researchers, post-graduate students, faculty and experienced practitioners because it provides a sustained and penetrating commentary on many of the prevailing phenomena and theories in the field of action learning and action science.'

Anne Graham Cagney
School of Education, Waterford Institute of Technology
Action Learning: Research and Practice, 2015

The edition is an extremely valuable, authoritative and unique survey guide to insider action research.  We could not have implemented our breakthrough curriculum in action research without the text.

Benito L. Teehankee
Professor, Management and Organization, De La Salle University

Excellent text for work-based learners that will want to consider using their own organisation to undertake a research project.

Dr Emmanuel Manu
Department of Construction, Nottingham Trent University
January 11, 2017

With professional doctorates, research is usually within the student's own workplace or profession and a participatory approach is often adopted. There is useful information and advice here from both the 'action research; and 'your own organisation' perspective.

Dr Rebecca ORourke
Medical Education Unit, Leeds University
February 17, 2016

There is a growing trend for students to undertake research in organisations that they're familiar with, i.e. those that they're employed within. This book introduces these researchers to this type of research and allows them to explore whether or not such an approach is appropriate.

Mr adam choonara
Natural Sciences, Middlesex University
November 3, 2015

For part time students, studying their own organisation offers both great access and a great opportunity to learn - this book supports what can be a difficult and rewarding site for research.

Mr Alistair Bowden
Business School, University of Teesside
July 1, 2015

Very informative. A good introduction to those new to action research.

Miss Martina Kirlew
Health and Social Care, University of Bolton
July 1, 2015

Good introduction for those new to action research. Clear and conclse with useful exercises at the end of the chapters. I would recommend to both undergraduate and PG research students, in addition to members of the local action research network.

Miss Jane Jervis
Faculty of Health, Keele University
June 15, 2015

This is an engaging text on how to use action research at your own place of work. It should provide depth guidance to those wishing to study their own organization and make change happen.

Dr Grant Coates
Social Sciences Department, Roehampton University
June 11, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One: Introducing Action Research

David Coghlan

David Coghlan is Professor Emeritus and Fellow Emeritus at the Trinity Business School. University of Dublin, of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He specializes in organization development and action research and is active in both communities internationally. He has published over 160 articles and book chapters. His bestselling book, Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization (SAGE) has been through five editions, the most recent being published in April 2019. He is co-editor of the SAGE Encyclopedia of Action Research (2014).  Recent co-authored books include Collaborative Strategic Improvement through Network Action Learning ... More About Author

Teresa Brannick

 Teresa Brannick (1950-2012) was a lecturer in the business research programme at the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business at University College, Dublin, Ireland. Her undergraduate degree was in mathematics, her masters in sociology and her Ph.D. in marketing research. She had been a practising researcher for over thirty years and had published over thirty research papers in such diverse fields as epidemiology, public policy, industrial relations and marketing. She was the editor-in-chief of Irish Journal of Management and a Fellow of the Irish Academy of Management. She was co-editor of Business Research Methods: Theories,... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781446272565