Virtual action research for virtual organisations?

Frank Stowell*, Shavindrie Cooray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Business organisations have always existed in a constantly changing environment. To survive it is necessary for them to adapt and adjust to the changes. When analysing complex entities, such as organisations, researchers have frequently adopted the methods of action research. But with the advent of greater use of information and communication technology businesses are changing in their composition and one practical manifestation of this is the rise of virtual teams. Virtual teams reflect the trend for an organisation to comprise ‘satellites’ or clusters of expertise in different parts of the globe. Such a transformation of what we can now take as an organisation creates new challenges for managers and for those inquiring into organisational problems. In this paper we attempt to address the question whether action research is any longer a valid way of organisational intervention for the researcher and consultant alike. In this paper we describe field research in which a soft method of Action Research was used during the analysis phase of IS development as a means of understanding the problem domain, identifying information requirements, evaluating technologies and reducing conflicts. The research was conducted between two institutions that were separated by several thousand miles and all participants connected from individual locations using virtual synchronous ICT. The study provided insight into the use of AR in virtual settings and as a means of conflict resolution in virtual teams. The findings have implications for IS development (which is increasingly conducted in virtual teams), education and management among others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-143
Number of pages27
JournalSystemic Practice and Action Research
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Action research
  • AIM
  • Conflicts
  • Information systems
  • Organisational inquiry
  • Systems


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