The potential of Action Research in the sustainable Management of Change

Year: 2000

Author: CURRIE, J

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper will examine the application of Action Research as a method and a process in the sustainable management of change. It will highlight the use of Action Research in the development of organisational learning and change within five NSW schools and will assess its impact in contributing to the continued viability and evolution of the change.

The inability of top-down prescriptive change to ensure that organisational outcomes (such as improved student learning) are achieved and sustained highlights the difficulty of change in hierarchical and scientifically managed organisations. The pace of economic, technological, social and policy change is indicative of the challenge facing organisations and their managers in accurately interpreting their external environment and instituting a coordinated organisational response.

Action Research provides a participative process and technology to allow for the identification of significant change issues, and the development of collaborative responses. The Action Research cycle creates a vehicle for organisational and professional learning through the creation, diffusion and dissemination of explicit change knowledge. This knowledge becomes the basis for embedding existing change, or further evolutionary change, and the reconceptualisation of tacit organisational and professional practices. The technology of Action Research allows a managerial and cultural opportunity for change to be created, interpreted and sustained through participative action and reflection.