References on Action Research

This is a list of references on action research. After a brief introduction which suggests those works which are essential reading for newcomers to the field, the list is organized into two parts: the first part lists some important citations related to the approach in other disciplines (including the source disciplines), the second lists citations related to the approach in Information Systems. You can use the Edit Find command in Netscape to look for a specific citation.

Please send additional references and/or short abstracts of items on this page (maximum 50 words) to the Section Editor at:

[Introduction] [Citations in Other Disciplines] [Citations in Information Systems]


A brief introduction to the action research method is the article by Susman and Evered (1978). For a more in-depth look at the method, the collection of articles by Kemmis and McTaggart (1988) is very useful, as is the Human Relations Special Issue which was devoted to action research (see Elden and Chisholm, 1994).

In Information Systems, a good place to start would be the articles by Baskerville and Wood-Harper (1996), and Checkland (1991).



Citations in Other Disciplines

Argyris, C., Putnam, R. and Smith, D. Action Science, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1985.

Argyris, C. and Schön, D. Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. Addison-Wesley, Reading, 1978.

Baburoglu, O.N. and Ravn, I. "Normative Action Research." Organization Studies (13:1), 1992, pp. 19-34.

Blum, F. "Action research - a scientific approach?" Philosophy of Science 22 (January), 1955, pp. 1-7.

Brown, L.D. and Tandon, R. "Ideology and Political Economy in Inquiry: Action Research and Participatory Research," Journal of Applied Behavioural Science (19), 1983, pp. 277-285.

Carr, W. and Kemmis, S. Becoming Critical: Education, Knowledge and Action Research, Falmer Press, London, 1986.

Chisholm, R.F. and Elden, M. "Features of Emerging Action Research," Human Relations (46:2), 1993, pp. 275-298.

Clark, P.A. Action Research and Organizational Change, Harper and Row, London, 1972.

Cunningham, B. "Action Research: Toward a Procedural Model," Human Relations (29:3), 1976, pp. 215-238.

Elden, M. and Chisholm, R.F. "Emerging Varieties of Action Research: Introduction to the Special Issue," Human Relations (46:2), 1993, pp. 121-142.

Greenwood, D.J., Whyte, W.W. and Harkavy, I. "Participatory Action Research as a Process and as a Goal," Human Relations (46:2), 1993, pp. 175-192.

Gustavsen, B. "Action Research and the Generation of Knowledge," Human Relations (46:10), 1993, pp. 1361-1365.

Harris, R.T. "Improving Patient Satisfaction Through Action Research," Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (14:3), 1978, pp. 382-399.

Heller, F. "Another Look at Action Research," Human Relations (46:10), 1993, pp. 1235-1242.

Hindle, T., Checkland, P., Mumford, M. and Worthington, D. "Developing a Methodology for Multidisciplinary Action Research: A Case Study," Journal of the Operational Research Society (46:4), 1995, pp. 453-464.

Hult, M. and Lennung, S-A. "Towards a Definition of Action Research: A Note and Bibliography," Journal of Management Studies, May 1980, pp. 241-250.

Johnston, S. and Proudford, C. "Action Research: Who Owns the Process?," Educational Review (46:1), 1994, pp. 3-14.

Karlsen, J.I. "Action Research as a Method," in Participatory Action Research, W.F. Whyte (ed.), Sage Publications, New York, 1991.

Kemmis, S. and McTaggart, R. The Action Research Reader. Third edition. Deakin University Press, Victoria, 1988.

Ledford, G.E.Jr. and Mohrman, S.A. "Self-Design for High Involvement: A Large-Scale Organizational Change," Human Relations (46:1), 1993, pp. 143-173.

Lewin, K. "Frontiers in Group Dynamics: II. Channels of Group Life; Social Planning and Action Research," Human Relations (1:2), pp. 143-153.

Lippit, G. and Lippit, R. The Consulting Process in Action. University Associates, San Diego, CA, 1978.

McTaggart, R. Action Research: A Short Modern History, Deakin University Press, Geelong, 1991.

Nosek, J.T. and Yaverbaum, G. "Overcoming Obstacles to University and industry Synergy in Information System Education: Lessons from Action Research," Education for Information, (9), 1991, pp. 3-19.

Peters, M. and Robinson, V. "The Origins and Status of Action Research," Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (20:2), 1984, pp. 113-124.

Rapoport, R.N. "Three Dilemmas in Action Research," Human Relations, (23:4), 1970, pp. 499-513.

Robinson, V.M.J. "Current Controversies in Action Research," Public Administration Quarterly (17:3), 1993, pp. 263-290.

Susman, G.I. "Action Research: A Sociotechnical systems perspective," in Beyond Method: Strategies for Social Science Research, G. Morgan (ed.), Sage Publications, London, 1983.

Susman, G.I. and Evered, R.D. "An Assessment of the Scientific Merits of Action Research," Administrative Science Quarterly, (23) 1978, pp. 582-603.

Trist, E. "Engaging with large-scale systems," in Experimenting with Organizational Life: The Action Research Approach, A. Clark (ed.), Plenum, New York, 1976, pp. 43-75.

Whyte, W.F. (ed.). Participatory Action Research, Sage Publications, New York, 1991.


Citations in Information Systems

Baskerville, R.L. and Wood-Harper, A.T. "A Critical Perspective on Action Research as a Method for Information Systems Research," Journal of Information Technology (11), 1996, pp. 235-246.

Checkland, P. "From framework through experience to learning: the essential nature of action research," in Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions, H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein, R.A. Hirschheim (eds.), North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1991, pp. 397-403.

Jonsson, S. "Action Research," in Information Systems Research: Contemporary Approaches and Emergent Traditions, H-E. Nissen, H.K. Klein and R.A. Hirschheim (eds.), North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1991.

Lee, A.S., Baskerville, R.L. and Davies, L. "A Workshop on Two Techniques for Qualitative Data Analysis: Action Research and Ethnography," Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Information Systems, 1992, p. 305-306.

Lee, A.S., Baskerville, R.L., Liebenau, J. and Myers, M.D. "Judging Qualitative Research in Information Systems: Criteria for Accepting and Rejecting Manuscripts," Proceedings of the Sixteenth International Conference on Information Systems, 1995.

Levin, M. "Action Research and Critical Systems Thinking: Two Icons Carved Out of the Same Log?", Systems Practice (7:1), 1994, pp. 25-41.

Mansell, G. "Action research in information systems development," Journal of Information Systems (1), 1991, pp. 29-40.

Warmington, A. "Action Research: Its Methods and its Implications," Journal of Applied Systems Analysis (7), 1980, pp. 23-39.

Wood-Harper, A.T. "Research Methods in Information Systems: Using Action Research," in Research Methods in Information Systems, E. Mumford, R.A. Hirschheim, G. Fitzgerald and A.T. Wood-Harper (eds.), North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1985.

Wood-Harper, A.T. "Viewpoint: Action Research," Journal of Information Systems (2), 1992, pp. 235-236.

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Revised: February 05, 2004

This work was published in MISQ Discovery on May 20, 1997. This is the original archival version. It is currently maintained by Michael D. Myers. Corrections, clarifications, and suggested modifications should be directed to him at Serious problems should be referred to the Editor-in-Chief.