Linking theory and practice in using action-oriented methods

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Designs, Methods and Practices for Research of Project Management, 2015, pp. 211 - 224
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We felt that there is a great opportunity for PM researchers to use dialectical approaches such as action research, action learning and action science to link theory and practice. The aim of this chapter to provide doctoral students a practical way to use action-oriented methods – action research, action learning and action science – to carry out research in and about projects while making a theoretical contribution to the field. After briefly explaining each of these methods the chapter discusses ways in which these methods can be combined to provide synergy. The chapter discusses some common data collection strategies used with these methods, also pointing out that other methods of data collection are welcome if the research project requires such data. Action research is often criticised for not being scientific and therefore a discussion on how it can be made rigorous and valid at both data collection and data analysis stages is discussed. Action researchers often do not write up their research using the conventions used in conventional quantitative and qualitative research theses or dissertations. A section is therefore devoted to discussing how to write up action research in novel ways. The chapter includes several reflective exercises to guide the reader (student or researcher) as well as some tips for supervisors of action research projects. At the end of this chapter, the reader can: • understand the basics of action-oriented methods and how they can be used in a research project; • justify adequately why action-oriented methods are applicable to your research project; • establish a model/process to carry out your research applying action-oriented methods.
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