Improvement and Transfer of Practice-directed
FRANS M. VAN EIJNATTEN
and LIEUWE DIJKSTRA
Faculty of Technology Management (TM), Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e),
Pav.U10–HPM, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Abstract. In this paper, we propose a method of working that aims to explicitly organize
action research and consultancy activities. Principles of action research are discussed and
comparisons are made with practice-directed research in general, particularly Argyris’ idea of
an action science. The main feature of our proposal is a distinction between implementation
(the how to or organization of an intervention) and justiﬁcation (the why or plausibility of the
intended eﬀect occuring). Some simple rules are proposed to register and use these two aspects
(which we label modules) to improve and disseminate practice-directed knowledge. The
method is illustrated by an intervention in socio-technical re-designing.
Key words: action research, action science, evaluation of interventions, intended eﬀects,
dissemination of practice-directed knowledge.
In this paper, we concentrate on action research and consultancy work,
activities that usually are characterized by the absence of explicit, stan-
dardized, problem-directed knowledge, and by the lack of ﬁxed procedures
and methods. We take the view that structuring these activities might up-
grade their scientiﬁc status and at the same time make it easier to improve,
save and transfer practice-directed knowledge. We propose a method of
working that organizes these activities by means of a few simple rules.
Action research as a scientiﬁc discipline refers to a strategy of change
where the scientist participatively supports people in changing their situation
in a desired way. The essence of the action research model is a set of
instructions that tells the persons involved what to do – how to act – to
achieve a desired end under existing conditions. This is a departure from the
Author for correspondence: Dr. Frans M. van Eijnatten, Associate Professor, Faculty of
Technology Management, Institute for Business Engineering and Technology Application,
TU/e Phone: +31 40 247 24 69 (GMT/MET+1); Fax: +31 40 243 71 61; E-mail: F.M.v.
Quality & Quantity (2005) 39: 137–154 Ó Springer 2005