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 researchconsulting contrasts aids in distinguishing the contributions of participative case studies to the information systems literature.
Journal of Systems and Information Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 1, 1997