Action Research: Toward Impact with Transdisciplinary Research

Action ResearchThe conference theme “transformation in practice” implies, for most conventionally trained researchers, a need to broaden their research approach and to strengthen design with transformational impact in mind. One powerful research tradition that has been doing this for over fifty years is action research.

Action research is a democratic and participative orientation to knowledge creation. It brings together action and reflection, theory and practice, in the pursuit of practical solutions to issues of pressing concern. Action research is a pragmatic co-creation of knowing with, not on, people. Action researchers nearly always start with a question, such as “How can we improve this situation?”

Beyond privileging cognitive understanding, action researchers draw on and contribute to an ever-increasing repertoire of experiential practices at personal, interpersonal and/or collective levels, while also giving attention to coordinating needed action with stakeholders.

One distinctive quality of action research that is particularly relevant to the conference theme is that stakeholders are problem co-definers, research co-designers and research co-implementers. For conventional researchers aiming to respond to the call for “transdisciplinary” research, this makes AR particularly attractive as the action research approach helps to ensure the relevance and impact of AR.

Anticipated Outcomes: The day is designed for researchers who are conventionally trained to strengthen understanding of AR as a research strategy with a built in change agenda, practice with complementing their research agenda with AR practices and to provide a follow up opportunity for participants to develop an action plan for integrating AR into their particular research initiative. To ensure robust follow up we will 1) share a  new call for papers to the Action Research journal on transformational inquiry/practice and 2) invite all interested into the AR+ community of practice which anchors global efforts of scholars to integrate the action research practices in their scholarly/practice work.

Workshop leads:

Hilary Bradbury, Ph.D., is a professor-scholar-practitioner. She has since edited three volumes of the bestselling Handbook of Action Research and serves the peer-reviewed journal Action Research as Editor-in-Chief. Hilary convenes AR+ (, a virtual community for participatory action researchers to nurture global interactivity.

Steve Waddell, Ph.D./MBA, is a large systems change and transformation researcher, who has advanced societal learning and change, Global Action Networks, and societal change systems.  His work is with multi-stakeholder entities of significant scale.