Energised by the sharing of research projects in New Mexico

1010 103282363165058 1609444619 nLast month Elonya Niehaus, researcher at the Institute for Transdisciplinary Development in Centurion, Pretoria, had the opportunity to attend the 5th International Qualitative Research in Management and Organization Conference (QRM) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Just back from the visit to the USA she said the conference was attended mostly by academics and researchers in management and organisation studies representing countries such as Africa, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Ireland and United States of America.

“The conference provided the context for qualitative researchers to share their research projects in the management and organisation contexts,” she said. Topics ranged from relational leadership, ethics in management, gender and age in management to research considerations such as reflexivity, auto-ethnography and action research.

“Reflecting back on the conference I realise that the research papers that energised me were those that told stories of research projects where the research was done in such a manner that the research participants also benefitted from participating in the research.

“Keynote speaker, Michelle Fine, who engaged in critical participatory action research, made it clear that we should not only be concerned with theorising, but also engage in practices that interrupt and change. Her examples of participatory action research projects left me inspired to engage in projects where the participants and their respective communities benefit from the research engagements.”

Fine is the Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology at the City University of New York, USA, and her paper was titled “Dialogue, Disruption and Inclusion”. Visit www.researchgate.net/profile/Michelle_Fine/publications for more publications by Fine.

Megan Reitz’s paper, “Dialogue in Organizations – Developing Relational Leadership,” provided a good example of action research in organizations in which the leaders became the co-researchers in defining practices for developing relational leadership. Visit www.ashridge.org.uk/faculty-research/faculty/megan-reitz/.

Lone Hersted’s paper, “Roleplaying as Participatory Inquiry for Leadership Development & Organizational Learning,” illustrated how a research project can stimulate “learning from within” where people in leadership positions can use role-play and reflecting teams to develop and improve their leadership practices. Visit www.taosinstitute.net/relational-leading.

How can we do research and write about research in ways that the community where we conduct the research can also benefit from the research? How can managers, leaders, human resource practitioners, industrial psychologists and consultants benefit from the research? 

Niehaus reiterated ITD’s use of participatory action research as the theory of change. “This allows us to apply a cycle of planning, engagement and reflection in collaboration with both our clients and our transdisciplinary team members, aimed at facilitating transformative change to the benefit of the client organisation. As change consultants, we do not engage with clients from an expert position where we make diagnosis of what is wrong in the organisation. Instead, we use our skills in facilitating a ‘change and learning process from within’.

“Through the use of dialogue and conversation we co-create a context where the organisation and its members can use their successes, strengths and past experiences to initiate constructive change.”