Saturday, August 21, 2010

HBH on 8 (3): Huzzard, Ahlberg and Ekman; Maurer and Githens on Organizational Development work.

Huzzard, Ahlberg and Ekman, write from Sweden about inter-organizational collaboration and the role of the action researcher. The conventions of social science encourage scholarly dishonesty about just how much impact the presence of a researcher has on an organization. Sometimes action researchers also fall into the trap of seeking to minimize their role. Huzzard et al encourage a more forthright understanding of ourselves as shapers of discourse and therefore as important political players in the work underway. As useful and acceptable a position this may be to many action researchers, we can only be aghast at the gap between our willingness to be honest about the impact of participation and the ongoing conventional wisdom to suppress the facts around this critical matter. Arguing about objectivity seems less helpful than providing pathways for better understanding what is at play. Clearly this is a delicate matter, one on which we welcome more practice based theorization.

Maurer and Githens writing from the USA offer a three part typology to describe action research in the field of organization development: conventional AR, critical AR and dialogic AR. This simple typology is helpful in allowing us to see the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and in recognizing our own and others practice footprints better.

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