Stages in Action Research
The origin of action research is a two-stage process and consists of diagnostic stage and therapeutic stage. Each of them is explained below:
Diagnostic Stage: It starts with identifying the research problems and issues related to the current situation and devices the plan to encounter such problems. This stage involves a mutual analysis of the social situation by the researcher and his subjects of the research. Based on the research domain research hypotheses are formulated (Baskerville, 1999; Baskerville & Pries-Heje, 1999; Blum, 1955; Coghlan & Brannick, 2014; Peters & Robinson, 1984).
Therapeutic Stage: It is the second stage of action research, where collaborative planned experiments are carried out, and the effect of such interventions are studied (Baskerville, 1999; Blum, 1955; Baskerville and Pries-Heje, 1999).
However, to obtain more scientific rigor in the research process, further detailed description of expanded structure is usually imposed upon the projects. Such method may vary based on the implementation. In a more elaborative way, action research is considered to be an iterative cyclical process which follows five stage approaches until the solution is achieved (Susman, 1983; Susman & Evered, 1978).
· Stage 1 (Diagnostic Stage): This refers to the primary stage of action research where the real-time problems or issues are identified for an organizational change. These problems are identified through a collaborative investigation of the social situation by both researcher and the individual/subjects of the research. It helps the researcher to frame the research hypotheses about the organization problems (Baskerville, 1999; Blum, 1955).
· Stage 2 (Action Planning Stage): In action planning stage, both researcher and practitioner design specified actionable plans which may be helpful in eradicating the primary problems of the organization. The desired action plans are created based on the theoretical framework which specifies the desired stage of the organization and the specific action plans to activate the desired outcomes (Suman, 1983).
· Stage 3 (Action Taking Stage): This is considered to be the third stage of the action research where planned actions or the interventions are implemented in the organization by the researchers and practitioner together. These interventions are aimed at the desired organizational changes. Several key strategies can be implemented either directly or indirectly to eradicate the existing organization problems.
· Stage 4 (Evaluating Stage): After the execution of the planned action at the organization level, the next step of the action researcher is to evaluate the intervention’s outcomes and see how successful the implemented intervention has been. If the intended organizational change is unsuccessful then some adjustments or improvements are made in the original research hypothesis formation and the same research cycle continues until the desired solution is achieved. Hence, this is considered to be an iterative process of organizational problem-solving mechanism (Davison, Martinsons & Kock, 2004).
· Stage 5 (Specifying Learning Stage): The last stage of the action research deals with the overall learning achieved during the research journey. Knowledge will be created in every evaluation stage of the action research process which is independent of the project outcome (Success/failure). Knowledge created in the evaluation stage of every failure intervention act as an input for the new action plans. The knowledge accrued through such field work interventions will be helpful in providing new directions to the future researchers and the action research community at large (Mathiassen, 2002; Baskerville, 1997).
Unlike conventional social science, its purpose is not primarily or solely to understand social arrangements, but also to effect desired change as a path to generating knowledge and empowering stakeholders.