Action Research Model
1. Overview of Action Research Model
- The main aim of organizational development is problem-solving. For which, there is a process of steps including problem identification and analysis, plan for change, managing resistance to change and assessment of change. This is a continuous process and needs monitoring. The cyclical process of using research to conduct activities, which produces new plans as the basis for further new activities, is action research.
- French and Bell (1995) have defined action research as “The process of systematically collecting research data about an ongoing system relative to some objective, goal or need of that system; feeding these data back into the system; taking actions by altering selected variables within the system based both on the data and on hypothesis; evaluating the results of actions by collecting more data”
- Action research is one of the distinctive features of OD and one of its core origins (French and Bell, 1999).
- Kemmis and McTaggart’s (1988) describe the action research model as “to plan, act, observe and reflect.”
- Action research in simple terms is looking for actions/activities with a goal to support the organisation in achieving its objectives.
- Action research is the foundation for designing strategies for Organisational Development.
- It is a continuous and cyclic step of actions to be implemented in the organisation to search for a solution to the problem. It is problem-centred and action-oriented
2. Action research model
- The model is all about data gathering and diagnosis, providing feedback, and determination of action at various stages.
- The process begins with the perception of the actual problem in the organisation after which diagnosis and identification of the problem are done by an external or internal consultant.
- The problem diagnostic step calls for data collection through personal interviews or questionnaires. Collected data is then considered by executives.
- After this, the organisation prepares for intervention techniques. Feedback which results out of data discussion is given to executives to seek their advice, on the basis of which action plan is composed.
- The action plan is implemented, revised, and evaluated on a regular basis to test its effectiveness. Ineffective results are forced to repeat the whole action plan process until organisational goals are optimally achieved.
- Through this process, employees who resist changes are willing to accept change. It helps the group members to work in unity with effectiveness and to develop emotional and philosophical adjustments to change.
- The whole action research process is action and change-oriented. It consists of the application of various theories in various fields where change is vital.
- The most used model of action research is Warner Burke’s 7 Step Action Research Model. It includes various steps:
- Entry- This step includes diagnosing needs for change in an organization on the basis of the nature of the organization.
- Contracting- It is a start-up step in which success factors and the real problems are identified. Various variables influence the success factors are: organization's culture, roles for the consultant(s) and employees, resistance in the organization.
- Data Collection- This step is also called assessment and diagnosis as it involves appropriate interventions by consultants. Data is collected to analyse the opportunities and threats faced by the organization.
- Providing feedback- based on an analysis of the data, consultants extract feedback. This step provides an opportunity for the employees of the organization to participate in the change process, in the selection of suitable change interventions and to learn about the results of the assessment process.
- Strategic Planning for change- In this step, recommendations and suggestions by consultants are taken out from the assessment and feedback collected previously. Various alternatives for actions are considered and the best among them is selected which is optimal and allows positive change. An implementation plan is developed that is result-oriented and measurable.
- Designing Interventions- the actual change process is implemented in this step. The action plan should be followed properly with flexibility for alteration if the situation asks for.
- Evaluating the success of Interventions- Evaluation and monitoring is done to verify the success of planned change, and to enhance the OD process to make future interventions more successful. The change should be monitored and controlled continuously to ensure success and to plan for future change activities.
3. Advantages of Action research model
- It aids in Problem Resolution by providing effective solutions and managing the Challenges of Business. It allows the employees to be prepared in advance to the coming changes by assuming the change in and developing the action plan.
- It helps in Analysing the problem and Developing the Interventions by emphasising more on converting the information into action. It also allows the practical implementation of successful change plans on a continuous and cyclic basis.
- It smoothes a learning environment as it facilitates understanding related to the organizational functioning, issues and challenges as data is collected from the whole organisation.
- In the process of Action Research, key involvement is of change agents, and they are the top management professionals, senior leaders and the stakeholders, who have an essential role in forming objectives of the change action plan.
- Helps in Rebuilding the Organizational Culture, as it supports the participative style of leadership.
- It also aids in encouraging mutual trust, collaboration and interdependence among clients and change agents that play a key role in the achievement of organizational objectives.
- It results in a long term enhancement in the performance of the overall organisation by supporting a learning culture, easy access to knowledge and skill transfer and adopting a systematic approach for organizational change.
- It also allows leadership quality to prosper as it aids development of team building and team management skills, working collaboratively and guiding and providing feedback.
- Action Research works with the approach of the organization as a whole perspective since it works upon the entire organisation and not only on individual subsystems. This boosts the leaders and consultants to visualise the organisation as a whole bigger picture and in implementing action plans for enhancing organizational performance and achieving organisational objective.
- In the process of action research, a change agent works together with the client and consultants to analyse problems, identify the reasons behind the problems and construct action plans which offer solutions for resolving the problems.
- It supports the organisation in attaining the strategic objectives by developing alignment between the strategic goals and the objective of the action research plan.
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