Practitioner Research for Organizational Knowledge:Mechanistic- and Organistic-Oriented Approaches to Insider Action Research
AbstractInsider action research is a relatively neglected form of research on organizations. Insider research is valuable because it draws on the experience of practitioners as complete members of their organizations and so makes a distinctive contribution to the development of insider knowledge about organizations and organizational change. We are all insiders in our own families and organizations and a distinctive quality of knowledge generalizable to that experience can come from insider action research. Within insider research, action research has a particular contribution to make to organizational research as it generates useful knowledge about how organizations manage change and how key actors perceive and enact their roles with regard to change. Two distinct patterns within action research may be seen. Mechanistic-oriented action research encompasses traditional action research as expressed in organization development and participatory action research, leading to pragmatic outcomes such as the management of change or problem resolution. Organistic-oriented action research is more complex and subversive because it is guided by a primary aspiration to study the inquiry process and help it transform through increasingly intensive learning in action.