Practitioner enquiry for busy professionals: An accelerated learning model
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractLeaders and managers need robust data and analyses in order to make strategic decisions, though often have to act without this data in practice. Yet traditional forms of academic research have struggled to appeal and deliver for professional leaders and managers undertaking real decisions in complex, changing workplace environments. Professionals can perceive academic research (or research as part of an university programme) as a lengthy, costly and generally irrelevant process – representative of the ongoing, so-called ‘relevance gap’ (between higher education and the ‘real’ world) in many countries. In addition, managers can make decisions about research (more specifically, a data collection method such as a survey), without wider strategic thinking about their position (and hence research utility) or what they are trying to achieve. In order to resolve this, a model has been developed for the rapid management learning of practitioner research methodology. The model has been strategically designed to focus on the practical challenges of professional managers in the workplace, so it draws on a ‘critical-practical’ philosophical underpinning (enabling emancipatory approaches to be selected when desirable for the professional), and has been constructed through an appreciative-inquiry and grounded-theory approach to action research. The conceptual starting point of the facilitation model is a key “change / problem / development” that is important in the managers’ professional context - and clearly specifying 'who needs to be convinced of what'. This is then creatively and critically explored from different positions and perspectives (both as-professional and as-researcher) – and includes appreciative scanning of existing sources of knowledge currently available to the practitioner, inside or outside of their organisation. This is then used to specify a precise research purpose and precise research questions. In turn, this helps the practitioner decide a desirable and feasible research strategy, followed by data requirements, methods for data collection and analysis, and finally, a schedule. This model has been tested and developed in practice, as part of an ongoing appreciative inquiry process, and the findings are presented. Amongst other findings, managers have found that their confidence in their capacity to make methodological decisions has increased. The findings and model are critiqued further and new directions are identified.
CitationUnpublished conference presentation given at the International CARN Conference in Vienna, Austria, 4-6 November 2011
DescriptionThis conference paper is available at http://chester.academia.edu/cwrstony/Papers/1304044/Practitioner_Enquiry_for_Busy_Professionals_An_Accelerated_Learning_Model
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