Re: on Action Research

Tony Downing (
Fri, 4 Jun 1999 15:03:30 +0100

Hi again Devi,

Re your further message:

>In regard to our recent dialogue about involving respondents in the
>interpretation of repertory grid information, could I draw colleagues'
>attention to the latest issue of _Management Learning_?
>It's a Special Issue devoted to the subject of Action Learning / Action
>Research, edited by Joe Raelin. In my view a quick glance at just his
>editorial would be thoughtprovoking for many colleagues in the PCP field,
>regardless of their likely lack of involvement in the kinds of employee
>and management development issues with which this journal deals.
>Here's a whole discipline (Organisation Development: Human Resource
>Development; the Learning Organisation; Organisational Learning etc.)
>which for the last 25 years or so _has taken it for granted_ that the
>individual's active participation in research done _about_ him/her, and
>_on_ him/her, makes for valuable contributions to theory as well as
>practice; a field which, in consequence, has developed rather
>sophisticated ways of handling the implications for research, in
>comparison with which our own recent discussions appear to be somewhat
>A field in which people influenced by Kelly (Hunt; Reason; Rowan), as
>well as people who have arrived at views and values similar to Kelly's
>(Argyris; Heron; Allport; Revans; Cassell) have been active, with
>enormous distinction, for years! Just one snippet: our own Don Bannister
>contributed a paper to one of the seminal books in the field edited by
>Reason and Rowan (see below).
>Our own worries whether the respondent has a place in designing our
>research (yes, even that!), interpreting the findings s/he has
>contributed, and taking the lead in implementation, seem desperately
>parochial in comparison.
>If you want a convenient summary of the current state of play in Action
>Learning; Action Research, and related approaches, please, drop the
>Psychological Laboratory mentality for a few hours, sit back, and have a
>look at the current issue of _Management Learning_!

Right! I will have a look at this.

But still, I feel that in our present little project with the parents of
the children with severe communication difficulties, we should be careful
to manage things so that between baseline interview/grid and end-or-course
interview/grid, we do what we realistically can not to increase the impact
of the interviews/grids. We will discuss the grids and our analysis of them
just after the second interview/grid, though.

Best wishes,


Tony Downing,
Dept. of Psychology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England.