Ethics in Action Research

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Action researchers need to learn well as act both politically and in an authentic manner following the relevant ethical standards and those of carrying out action research. Interaction is also a vital role in enhancing survival and effective political dynamics in action research. An individual carrying out action research should be able to associate and articulate the knowledge of political actions (Lipman-Blumen & Leavitt, 1999). In other words, there are relevant ethical issues that surround the practices of action research in an organization.

Action research refers to a force that enhances social, professional as well as personal changes hence should be considered vital in every organization. It is a process of examined enquiry towards individual actions in order to move ahead the future of the associated social values (Björkman & Sundgren, 2005).

Action research can be considered as systematic, reflective as well as a determinant of individual actions that influence their actions in an organization. Certain ethical issues, obligations as well as consequences are implied in an inherent manner in the necessary structures along with the relationships of skills of both mainstream social as well as action research in an organization (Roth, 2007).

The ways of acting in different action research approaches are not only neutral instruments but also of normative content. An important aspect of ethics in action research is who should take part in action research activities (Lipman-Blumen & Leavitt, 1999). These should be considered for the positions of community in inquiry along with the interpretation as well as the associated subjects of the study.

The initial ethical issue would be to negotiate the ways through the entire process of action research. In this case, the action researchers are required to negotiate their access to the organizational elements (Roth, 2007). Most importantly, it is important for the action researchers to ask the other colleagues if they have agreed to be examined and if they will take part in the entire process of action research.

Steps should be undertaken in order to ensure that the research will be fair, relevant and as accurate as possible (Björkman & Sundgren, 2005). Therefore, this can be referred to as negotiation of accounts. Another ethical issue in action would be negotiation of boundaries that is based on the consideration that it should be granted to all the participants.

Action research requires to be carried out in a morally responsible manner and should not disadvantage the members of the research (Williander & Styhre, 2006). Opinions of others in the research should be respected and this should be done under an ethical code through seeking permission for any access.

It is always vital to ensure that all the participants in the research take part in the research willingly or voluntarily. Giving consent towards participation in action research requires collaboration by members in committing in their time as well as energy to the research.

The members are also required to be granted enough time in order to consider their participation in the action research. This includes the time to discuss with the other members of the organization involved in the action research (Coghlan & Brannick, 2010). All members should have a clear view of all the stages involved in action research in order to assist them to make an assessment of the collaboration experience.

People’s comments and behaviors should be made as confidential as possible. This should be done through ensuring that nothing acts attributable to the people’s information (Williander & Styhre, 2006). All the information collected from the individuals during the action research should be confidential. All members taking part in action research should be given the assurance of confidentiality for their information throughout the research (Moore, 2007).

Discussions should also be held with all the management members in order to grant them with the permission to be involved in the research as action researchers. The people giving feedback during the practice should be reminded that they are taking part in action research (Coghlan & Brannick, 2010). However, action research can be faced by several ethical problems including the failure of research members to provide complete feedback on issues surrounding the action research.

In conclusion, action research is usually surrounded by many ethical issues in organizations hence should be done with much caution in order to provide the best solutions to the problems in organizations. Any failure to comply with one’s standards, values as well as those of carrying out action research can lead to negative outcomes of action research.

Ethics of action research revolve around the action researchers and the participants in the research including leaders and colleagues in the organization (Hilsen, 2006). All the practices are required to act in good faith and offer collaborative results of the action research. Failure to collaborate can lead to poor results and can hinder development of solutions in the organization.


Björkman, H. & Sundgren, M. (2005). Political entrepreneurship in action research: learning from two cases. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 18 (5), pp.399-415.

Coghlan, D. & Brannick, T. (2010). Doing action research in your own organization. 3rd ed. London: Sage.

Hilsen, A.I. (2006). And they shall be known by their deeds: ethics and politics in action research. Action Research, 4 (1), March, pp.23-36.

Lipman-Blumen, J., & Leavitt, H. J. (1999). Hot groups “with attitude”: A new organizational state of mind. Organizational Dynamics, 27 (4), 63-73.

Moore, B. (2007). Original sin and insider research’, Action Research, 5 (1), pp.27-39.

Roth, J., Shani, A.B. (Rami) & Leary, M. (2007). Insider action research: facing the challenge of new capability development within a biopharma company. Action Research, 5 (1), pp.41-60.

Williander, M. & Styhre, A. (2006). Going green from the inside: insider action research at the Volvo Car Corporation. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 19 (3), pp.239-252.

Image: 2018-02/1518011640_insider-action-research.jpg

Written by Administrator on Wednesday February 7, 2018

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