Investigating information systems with action research / Baskerville (1999)

Citation - Baskerville, R. (1999). Investigating information systems with action research. Communications of the AIS, 2(3es).

Keyword - action research

abstract

  • 行動研究是一種在20世紀中期,在社會與醫學中運用的研究方法;而到了1990年中期對資訊系統研究的重要性逐漸增加。
  • 其獨特的哲學脈絡,根植於後實證主義的「個殊性(idiographic)」與「詮釋性(interpretive)」研究理念的假定。
  • 將行動研究應用在資訊系統研究,可以追溯到Kurt Lewin與Tavistock Institute.
  • 行動研究有各種不同形式,以回應特定領域的問題。由已出版的資訊系統研究中可以知道,最典型的形式是五階段模式的參與式方法。

Context | 行動研究的理解脈絡

(:歸納行動研究的觀點與立場。比較過一些專書與文集,我認為這篇文章此節寫得很精要。)

行動研究有兩大假定(p.5):

  1. 作研究,無法透過簡化社會情境之道
    social settings cannot be reduced for study, and
  2. 先行動,而能理解
    action brings understanding,

(:無法透過分析要素的手段獲得知識)行動研究者們普遍認為,複雜社會系統是無法透過研究加以簡化的。他們相信,與資訊技術互動的人類組織,例如組織與資訊科技,是無法被完整理解的。這種想法進一步延伸,他們會認即使將社會背景情境分析成為不同的元件,也無法得到有用的知識。

Action researchers are among those who assume that complex social systems cannot be reduced for meaningful study. They believe that human organizations, as a context that interacts with information technologies, can only be understood as whole entities. A key implication of this assumption is that the factoring of a social setting, like an organization and its information technology, into variables or components, will not lead to useful knowledge about the whole organization. (p.3)

變革導向 change-oriented(:以行動改變系統才能獲得知識)行動研究者認為,複雜社會組織的研究,應該是在實務流程中進行一些變化,以觀察這些變化的結果。

How then can we develop an understanding of the interaction of complex social organizations and their information systems? The fundamental contention of the action researcher is that complex social processes can be studied best by introducing changes into these processes and observing the effects of these changes. (p.3-4)

因此行動研究取向(approach)無可避免的:(1)詮釋論觀點;(2)個殊觀點;(3)質性資料與分析。

This change-oriented contention profoundly shapes the action research approach. Three unavoidable effects are the adoption of an interpretivist viewpoint of research enquiry, the adoption of an idiographic viewpoint of research enquiry, and the acceptance of qualitative data and analyses. (p.4)

Defining | 定義

「行動研究」的多義狀況:在文獻中,有些指一種社會探究方法,有些又指「行動科學」「行動學習」「參與行動研究」等較具體的方法等等。

The action research literature is rather imprecise in its basic terminology. The term “action research” is itself used, on the one hand, to refer both to a general class of methods in social enquiry, and on the other hand, to a specific sub-class of those methods as distinguished from “action science”, “action learning”, “participatory action research”, etc. (p.6)

(若要對資訊科學行動研究作)更精準的行動研究(方法)定義,則需要參考社會科學的行動研究文獻。但,這些文獻主要是經典行動研究作品,強調的是研究目的與意義,而非建立方法過程。

A more precise definition of IS action research can be drawn from the published characteristics of action research in the social science literature. However, this literature is dominated by the canonical form of action research, and tends to emphasize action research characteristics based on goals and objectives rather than characteristics based on the process. (p.6)

二步驟 two stage process

two stage process [Blum,1955]:

  1. 一、診斷 First, the diagnostic stage involves a collaborative analysis of the social situation by the researcher and the subjects of the research. Theories are formulated concerning the nature of the research domain.
  2. 二、治療 Second, the therapeutic stage involves collaborative change experiments. In this stage changes are introduced and the effects are studied .

四特徵

根據 Hult and Lennung [1980]對行動研究所定義的四項特徵,可以調整為:

  1. 行動研究的目地在於增進對變動社會現況的理解。而這項理解是基社會環境在資訊系統本質上,是複雜且多重變項的。
    Action research aims at an increased understanding of an immediate social situation, with emphasis on the complex and multivariate nature of this social setting in the IS domain.
  2. 行動研究同時解決實際問題與擴展科學知識。進而延伸為兩項程序特徵:一,詮釋性觀察;二,研究者介入問題環境本身。
    Action research simultaneously assists in practical problem solving and expands scientific knowledge. This goal extends into two important process characteristics: First, there are highly interpretive assumptions being made about observation; second, the researcher intervenes in the problem setting.
  3. 行動研究是協同的,因此個別行動者的能力得到增強。這個目標隱含在參與觀察的程序中。 研究者和參與者雙方都到能力增強(合作的不可逆結果)。 …..
    Action research is performed collaboratively and enhances the competencies of the respective actors. A process of participatory observation is implied by this goal. Enhanced competencies (an inevitable result of collaboration) is relative to the previous competencies of the researchers and subjects, and the degree to which this is a goal, and its balance between the actors, will depend upon the setting.
  4. 行動研究主要適用於理解社會系統中的變化程序。
    Action research is primarily applicable for the understanding of change processes in social systems.

History | 歷史

起源

行動研究分別源起於1940年代,兩個獨立的社會心理學研究:

  • Kurt Lewin [1947a; 1947b] 在密西根大學團體動力研究中心(University of Michigan Research Center for Group Dynamics)所進行的社會心理學研究
  • Tavistock 醫院建立的為心理與社會失序所建立的研究操作
  • 這兩項發展在 Lewin 加入 Tavistock 後合而為一

非量化,遠離戰後主流

戰後社會科學研究(與研究資助)的主流是「硬的」量化實徵科學研究。強調專業主義與精確的資料收集方法,而使得質性方法受到相當程度的衰減。因此少見行動研究,且其貢獻也被邊緣化。

結合系統理論

這種邊緣性使得行動研究較可能在不同於傳統科學觀點中獲得認同。這種趨勢將行動研究與系統理論結合在一起,行動研究者開始認為人類活動是整體系統,而行動研究者是這個社會系統的一部分。

The marginalization of action research helped mature the recognition that action research operated with a different epistemology than traditional science [cf. Blum, 1955; Susman and Evered, 1978]. Further, the conflicts that the approach raised were recognized [Rapoport, 1970]. This trend also linked action research closely to systems theory. Action researchers clearly recognize that human activities are systematic, and that action researchers are intervening in social systems. (p.8)

資訊系統研究中的行動研究史

  • Mumford [Mumford and Weir, 1979] 參考行動研究,建立 ETHICS系統發展法
  • Peter Checkland 將行動研究作為 連結 系統分析與資訊系統社群 的技巧,發展出 軟系統方法(soft system methodolgy)[Checkland, 1981; Checkland and Holwell, 1998; Checkland and Scholes, 1990]. Checkland used action research to develop soft systems metho,並作為科學哲學與系統科學的連結。[Checkland, 1981].
  • Wood-Harper 作為一種研究方法[Wood-Harper, 1985].,也建立一種基於行動研究的 Multiview 系統開發方法 [Wood-Harper et al., 1985].

Forms | 行動研究的形式

行動研究包含以下特徵(Peters and Robinson, 1984)1):

  1. 行動與變革導向 an action and change orientation;
  2. 專注於問題 a problem focus;
  3. 在「有機」的過程中,包含了系統性與偶爾有迭代的階段 an “organic” process involving systematic and sometimes iterative stages; and
  4. 與參與者協作 collaboration among participants.

Baskerville & Wood-Harper (1998)對資訊科學中行動研究的分類,基於上述的四項特徵:

  1. Cannonical
  2. IS Prototyping
  3. Soft Systems Methodology
  4. ETHICS
  5. Multiview
  6. Action Science
  7. Participant Observation
  8. Action Learning
  9. Clinical Field Work
  10. Process Consultation

Lau [1997] 對行動研究的分類

  • action research,
  • participatory action research,
  • action science and
  • action learning

Domain | 適用領域

Distinguishing action research form consulting | 行動研究與顧問研究的區別

Schein: process consulting [Schein, 1969].

相似點:

  • 源自 Kurt Lewin
  • cycles are very similar
相異點 行動研究 顧問
Motivation 科學研究 商業利益
Commitment 對科學社群 對客戶
Approach 與對象協作 外在於研究對象
Foundation for recommendations 基於理論提供建議 基於成功經驗提供建議
Essence of the organizational understanding 基於在組織內變革實務的成功基於對問題獨立客觀的分析

(note: 我認為這些相異點有許多彼此矛盾之處)

Approach | 取向

傳統行動研究

Susman and Evered,(1978) 遞迴的五階段:

  1. 診斷 diagnosing,
  2. 行動計畫 action planning,
  3. 採取行動 action taking,
  4. 評估 evaluating and
  5. 詳述所獲 specifying learning.

參與行動研究

「理論化」在傳統行動研究中,是研究者的工作。在參與行動研究中(PAR),理論化是研究者與client 共同的責任。

實務

(略)

Note

  • 除了 participant, 本文有時候也會用 client 來描繪所參與及研究的對象。這應該是資管社群特有的文化吧?
  • 資管社群一般是「既有系統的外部者」,因此與教師行動研究者是「既有系統一部分」相當不同。介入社群時,研究者與原始社群間的權力關係,社會或政治行動研究、組織或資訊科學行動研究、教師的課堂行動研究,也都相當不同。

Metadata

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1)
Peters, M., & Robinson, V. (1984). The origins and status of action research. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 20(2), 113.