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Action Research: Creative Metaphor to Build Relationships in Projects

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By: Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases
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Abstract

The purpose of this case study is to highlight the importance and limitations of methodology and research design in the exploration of highly subjective behavioural research. People are social creatures, and as such, their ‘reality’ is what they perceive to be true, which can be very difficult to ‘prove’ (by them or others). Two people can observe the same event at the same time and subsequently describe it very differently as they have interpreted from within their own behavioural norms and experiences. So how do we ‘research’ what is true and how robust are the data we gather and the interpretations we apply to such research? This case uses the data from Arthur Shelley's 2012 PhD research to provide a philosophical approach to explore how this can be achieved. The approach taken defines a research methodology through a unique combination of action research and reflective practice to generate quality subjective evidence with both relevance and rigour. Relevance (usefulness in practice) was provided by working with four operational organisations on real projects they were completing as the environment for the research to be conducted in. Rigour (high-quality data to support confidence) is provided by involving 53 people across these four organisations, as well as eight practitioners who work independently of these organisations. Each person was able to provide feedback and reflections at several instances through the research about how interactive workshop interventions impacted their involvement in the project activities.

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