Technology and action are two elements that define what it is to be human. It is technology that has made Homo sapiens such a successful species, and it is the actions enabled by technology that will ensure that we continue to be successful … or meet our doom. No technological development has any value without action. Action Research AR is all about action and, at the same time, it is also rigorous research. When applied in the context of technology, Action Research is the study of how technology is applied in the real world and the practical consequences of technology-enabled action.
More broadly, Action Research is a generic name used to refer to a set of research approaches that share a few common characteristics. In Action Research the researcher typically tries to provide a service to a research “client“, often an organization, and at the same time add to the body of knowledge in a particular domain. In technology-related inquiry, an Action Research study could entail the researcher introducing a new technology in an organization, and at the same time studying the effects of the technology in that organization. The emphasis of my discussion in this encyclopedia entry is on the empirical evaluation modality, because that is the modality that is the most closely related to Action Research. One may design a unique technology, but the technology will only become useful when it is employed in practice; Action Research is all about practice.