Charting a Course of Action: An Insider-Outsider Approach

Woodfield, PJ
Ruckstuhl, K
Rabello, RCC
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Journal Article
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Talent First Network, Carleton University

We explore an alternative approach to action research that can be implemented throughout the lifespan of a science and technology research programme. We do this by examining the emergence and development of a participant-observer research approach where a researcher is also part of the same community of practice as those being observed in the technology and innovation management context. Our motivation stems from the need to understand innovation processes and management over a long period. Typically, consultants are employed for a given period to carry out action research. We present a case where social scientists, as opposed to action research consultants, carried out action research after a history of relationship building and becoming embedded within a longitudinal science and technology research programme. This allowed the social science researchers to build trust and rigor with those being observed before engaging an action research approach. We present our case as a narrative of experiences, events and turning points, reporting on what was observed and experienced by these social scientists. Our study extends current knowledge by mapping the research journey toward action research through three phases: navigation, iteration, and reflection phases. We argue that richer insights are generated when participant-observers engage early, and that their insights lead to action research that is more informed.

Action research; Ethnography; Innovation management; Insider-Outsider; Narrative; Participant-Observer; Reflexivity; Sense-Making
Technology Innovation Management Review, 11(7/8): 48-66.
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