There are numerous definitions of action research, however one of the most widely cited is that of Rapoport?s, who defines action research in the following way:
Action research aims to contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate problematic situation and to the goals of social science by joint collaboration within a mutually acceptable ethical framework (Rapoport, 1970, p. 499).
This definition draws attention to the collaborative aspect of action research and to possible ethical dilemmas which arise from its use. It also makes clear, as Clark (1972) emphasizes, that action research is concerned to enlarge the stock of knowledge of the social science community. It is this aspect of action research that distinguishes it from applied social science, where the goal is simply to apply social scientific knowledge but not to add to the body of knowledge.
Action research has been accepted as a valid research method in applied fields such as organization development and education (e.g. see the Special Issue on action research in Human Relations, Vol. 46, No. 2, 1993, and Kemmis and McTaggart, 1988). In information systems, however, action research was for a long time largely ignored, apart from one or two notable exceptions (e.g.Checkland, 1991). More recently, there seems to be increasing interest in action research.
A brief overview of action research is the article by Susman and Evered (1988). The article by Baskerville and Wood-Harper (1996)provides a good introduction to how action research might be used by IS researchers. An empirical example of action research is the article by Ytterstad et al. (1996).