Participatory action research and co-researchers: an innovative learning and change methodology for a medium-sized manufacturing organization.

Brown, Christopher J. and Frame, Philip (2001) Participatory action research and co-researchers: an innovative learning and change methodology for a medium-sized manufacturing organization. In: 8th Annual EDINEB International Conference: On Technology, Pedagogy and Innovation, Wednesday, June 20, 2001 - Friday, June 22, 2001, EDHEC School of Management, Nice, France. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


The marketplace for SME manufacturing companies operating on a worldwide basis, is becoming more and more uncertain, demanding ever greater rates of change to meet increasing market demands. Additionally, the increasing expectation of stakeholders: demanding better product delivery and newer innovative solutions, enhanced employee satisfaction, higher shareholder value and increased organizational effectiveness. The demands on the management and employees has never been so great, as calls for changes in organizational effectiveness, increased effort, more time to listen to customers and the ever increasing expectation to deliver on promises to stakeholders. The challenge is to change and change quickly, whatever the current organizational position.

The study concludes that merely indentifying key individuals to facilitate and motivate change is not an adequate way forward. There needs to be an initiative, that helps those involved question the very fabric of the organization's structure and processes. The study proposes that a combination of Participatory Action Research (PAR) and the use of co-researchers in both exploring and actioning change (Action Learning) is an innovative step towards managing continuous organizational change.

Participatory Action Research (PAR) together with the creation of co-researchers within the case study, is the fundamental cornerstone of the study's methodology to explore, understand and action changes within the organization. The study will show that PAR and the use of individuals as both co-researchers and change agents, have developed both a positive attitude within the organization to co-operate in the research and encouraged commitment to the process of change and the resultant outcomes over time. Research Problem - The case study is particularly interesting because of the nature of both its internal and external environmental changes in the last ten years. Internally, the organization successfully concluded a Management Buy-Out (MBO), but this was shortly followed by takeover by another corporation, and then as a consequence of this went through several restructuring exercises. Each exercise has resulted in a weakening of its position in the marketplace, lack of any significant product innovation in the last ten years, and a general loss of core competencies.

Initial data analysis shows a commitment by the employees to pull things around. The goal is to action new creative and innovative initiatives within the organization, to create additional radical product developments and to change fundamentally its networking and knowledge transfer capacity. The research study has already identified some of the issues which are barriers to progress. The paper will report actions originating from the collective efforts between researchers, co-researchers and employees to address some of these issues.

The paper will explain why undertaking the learning journey has been the most significant activity undertaken by the employees since the MBO initiative. The commitment shown by the employees and management in opening their minds and challenging their beliefs to the benefits of action research and learning is real.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
Item ID: 3034
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Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2009 15:55
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:15

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