A Discipline-Spanning Overview of Action Research and Its Implications for Technology and Innovation Management

Carleton University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Technology Innovation Management Review, 2019, 9 (4), pp. 48 - 65
Issue Date:
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The iterative and learning character of action research is particularly beneficial for exploring complex socio-technical problems in technology and innovation management (TIM). In this respect, action research allows both rigorous and relevant research due to parallel solving of real-world problems, capability building, and gaining scientific insights. However, the use of action research within TIM research is surprisingly limited. Action research also is not a homogeneous research methodology since each research discipline, such as education and organizational science, has its own action research streams, which are often only loosely linked. A systematic overview of those action research traditions and specific best practices is still missing, which complicates a systematic transfer and use of action research in TIM. This article addresses this essential gap by building a cross-disciplinary overview of action research streams based on a bibliometric analysis using Scopus. The analysis includes relevant disciplines with action research traditions, their development over time, and the most influential journals, authors, institutions, and countries. Along with this discipline-spanning analysis, the article investigates particular TIM benefits and challenges of action research. The two key contributions of this article are: 1) a discipline-spanning overview of action research and its evolution and 2) an analysis of its implications for TIM research. These contributions build the basis for strengthening the use of action research in TIM. In the medium-term, action research has the capacity to link academia and industry more closely and, in doing so, assists important endeavours of translating more of our research outcomes into practice.
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