Pluralist action research: A review of the information systems literature

Mike Chiasson, Matt Germonprez, Lars Mathiassen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Action research (AR) has for many years been promoted and practised as one way to conduct field studies within the information systems (IS) discipline. Based on a review of articles published in leading journals, we explore how IS researchers practise AR. Our review suggests that AR lends itself strongly towards pluralist approaches which facilitate the production of both theoretical and practical knowledge. First, on the level of each study we analyse how research and problem-solving activities are mixed, in three ways: the research dominant, the problem-solving dominant and the interactive approaches. Second, in the context of the wider research programme in which the study is situated, we analyse how AR is mixed with other research methods, in two ways: the dominant and the sequential approaches. We argue that these pluralist practices of mixing types of research activities and types of research methods provide IS action researchers with a rich portfolio of approaches to knowledge production. This portfolio helps them address the risks involved in AR to ensure their efforts contribute to the literature as well as to practical problem-solving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-54
Number of pages24
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Action research
  • IS research methodology
  • Pluralism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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