Action research and variants in project studies and project management

Call for papers for: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

Proposal submission deadline (to Per Svejvig, [email protected]): 1st April 2021

Submission Portal Opens: 1st June 2021

Submission Deadline: 1st September 2021


Guest Editors

  • Per Svejvig, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • Shankar Sankaran, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • Erik Lindhult, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden

Aims & Scope

Action research, collaborative research and participatory research – engaged scholarship in projects and innovations – contribute to the future of management by making academic research more relevant to practice and the bridging of the gap between theory and practice In confronting challenges facing organizations, communities and society, like sustainability transition, health crises like today´s pandemic and digital revolution, there is urgent need to further develop these type of research approaches that are dynamic, agile and democratic in developing valuable, humane and effective responses to problems.

Action research involves close cooperation between practitioners and researchers to co-create knowledge and bring about change collaboratively. Action research essentially consists of the analysis of a social situation followed by the implementation of changes and an evaluation of their impact (Coghlan & Brannick, 2010; Greenwood & Levin, 2007; Susman & Evered, 1978). Engaged scholarship has a broader perspective as “a participative form of research for obtaining the different perspectives of key stakeholders (researchers, users, clients, sponsors, and practitioners) in studying complex problems” (Geraldi & Söderlund, 2016; Van de Ven, 2007). Action research and engaged scholarship offer an excellent opportunity to address key challenges in project studies in a novel and constructive way. According to Gustavsen (2005), action research has a role in promoting innovation through collaborative inquiry and action. Action research has the potential for enhancing practical and academic value not only in innovating products and services but also in complex organizational, systemic and ecosystem innovation projects. Through action research approaches projects and scientific work can become more useful and actionable for professionals in ways that also can enhance scientific excellence (Coghlan, 2019; Lindhult, 2019).

Key words are stakeholder involvement, co-creating knowledge, engaging, evaluating and guiding professional practice, change and intervention as well as designing, building and evaluating artefacts.

We invite submissions to a special issue of the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business. The purpose of this special issue is to publish work that will significantly enhance our theoretical and empirical understanding of action research related to projects and innovations.

We accept all modalities (Coghlan & Shani, 2018) such as action learning (Revans, 2017), action science (Argyris, 1995), appreciative inquiry (Whitney & Cooperrider, 2005), action design research (Sein, Henfridsson, Purao, Rossi, & Lindgren, 2011), coproduction (Lindhult & Axelsson, 2021), clinical inquiry/research (Schein, 2007), canonical action research (Svejvig & Schlichter, 2020, 2021) collaborative management research (Shani, Mohrman, Pasmore, Stymne, & Adler, 2007), design research (Hevner, March, Park, & Ram, 2004; van Aken, 2004), learning history (Bradbury & Mainemelis, 2001), action research as a meta-methodology (Dick et al., 2015) and participatory action research (Kemmis & McTaggart, 2005).

Within the scope of this special issue, potential themes for individual submissions may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Methodological papers discussing how to address action research, collaborative research, participatory research, engaged scholarship, design research, coproduction, co-creation of knowledge, etc. in project studies and project management
  • Papers contributing to social and/or technological innovation for sustainable and beneficial change
  • Conceptual papers possibly including literature reviews targeting foundational issues of action research and engaged scholarship in project management research
  • Discussions of ontological and epistemological foundations of action research, complemented by methodological approaches to support action research investigations
  • Single or multiple case studies applying action research, design research and/or engaged scholarship focusing on organizational and/or societal intervention
  • Scholarly descriptions of mixed method approaches used in particular projects; e.g. action research with experimental or survey research, or action research following case study research
  • Applying action research in a variety of sectors not limited to education, communities, organizations etc.
  • Papers that could help enhance the rigor and/or transformative capacity of findings from action research

We invite the submission of empirical, conceptual, methodological, and literature review papers.

The expected year of publication for this special issue is late 2022.

Timeline and Submission instructions

Authors should first submit a max. 1000-word proposal to get feedback on the suitability of the topic for the specific theme. Please submit abstracts to Per Svejvig [email protected]. Upon acceptance of the proposal and taking in comments provided by the special issue editors, authors should submit their manuscript following the requirements outlined on the journal’s website. For inclusion in the special issue, manuscripts will undergo a double-blind review process facilitated by the guest editorial team. Please contact the guest editors if you have any questions.

Submissions to this journal are through the ScholarOne submission system:
https:/ / Please visit the author guidelines for the journal here.

  • Proposal submission deadline (to Per Svejvig, [email protected]): 1st April 2021
  • Proposals invited for full paper submission: 1st June 2021
  • Full paper submission deadline: 1st September 2021
  • Post-review notifications to authors: December 2021
  • Revisions and decisions: Summer 2022
  • Expected publication time: Late 2022

Relevant References

Argyris, C. (1995). Action science and organizational learning. Journal of managerial psychology, 10(6), 20-26.

Bradbury, H., & Mainemelis, C. (2001). Learning history and organizational praxis. Journal of Management Inquiry, 10(4), 340-357.

Coghlan, D. (2019). Doing action research in your own organization. London: SAGE Publications Limited.

Coghlan, D., & Brannick, T. (2010). Doing action research in your own organization (3rd ed.). London: Sage Publications.

Coghlan, D., & Shani, A. B. R. (2018). Conducting Action Research for Business and Management Students. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Dick, B., Sankaran, S., Shaw, K., Kelly, J., Soar, J., Davies, A., & Banbury, A. (2015). Value Co-creation with Stakeholders Using Action Research as a Meta-methodology in a Funded Research Project. Project Management Journal, 46(2), 36-46. doi:10.1002/pmj.21483

Geraldi, J., & Söderlund, J. (2016). Project studies and engaged scholarship: Directions towards contextualized and reflexive research on projects. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 9(4), 767-797. doi:doi:10.1108/IJMPB-02-2016-0016

Greenwood, D. J., & Levin, M. (2007). Introduction to Action Research (2 ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Gustavsen, B. (2005). Innovation and action research. International Journal of Action Research, 1(3), 267-289.

Hevner, A. R., March, S. T., Park, J., & Ram, S. (2004). Design Science in Information Systems Research. MIS Quarterly, 28(1), 75-105.

Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (2005). Participatory action research: Communicative action and the public sphere. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (pp. 559-604). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Lindhult, E. (2019). Scientific Excellence in Participatory and Action Research: Part I. Rethinking Research Quality. Technology Innovation Management Review, 9(5), 6-21.

Lindhult, E., & Axelsson, K. (2021). The logic and integration of coproductive research approaches. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. ahead-of-print (No. ahead-of-print).

Revans, R. (2017). ABC of action learning: Routledge.

Schein, E. H. (2007). Clinical inquiry/research. In P. Reason & H. Bradbury (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice (pp. 266-279). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Sein, M. K., Henfridsson, O., Purao, S., Rossi, M., & Lindgren, R. (2011). Action Design Research. MIS Quarterly, 35(1), 37-56.

Shani, A. B., Mohrman, S. A., Pasmore, W. A., Stymne, B., & Adler, N. (2007). Handbook of collaborative management research: Sage Publications.

Susman, G. I., & Evered, R. D. (1978). An assessment of the scientific merits of action research. Administrative Science Quarterly, 23(4), 582-603.

Svejvig, P., & Schlichter, B. R. (2020). The Long Road to Benefits Management: Toward an Integrative Management Model. Project Management Journal, 51(3), 312–327. doi:10.1177/8756972819896485

Svejvig, P., & Schlichter, B. R. (2021). Resources, capabilities and public value creation in a healthcare IT project: an action research study. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print). doi:10.1108/ijmpb-04-2020-0112

van Aken, J. (2004). Management Research Based on the Paradigm of the Design Sciences: The Quest for Field-Tested and Grounded Technological Rules. Journal of Management Studies, 41(2), 219-246.

Van de Ven, A. (2007). Engaged Scholarship: A Guide for Organizational and Social Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Whitney, D., & Cooperrider, D. (2005). Appreciative inquiry: A positive revolution in change. San Francisco, California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.