Action Research as a Network: Collective Production of Roles and Interventions

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This paper explores roles and interventions in IS action research. I draw upon a four-year research project about electronic medical records, conducted in close collaboration with a community partner. Following a self-reflexive stance, I trace the trajectory of the research engagement and the different roles I occupied. To better understand the complex nature of collaboration found within action research projects, I propose conceptualizing action research as a network. The network framework directs our attention to the collective production and the conditions through which roles and interventions come to exist. Thus, interventions and roles can be seen as network effects—they are enacted and supported by the network. Accordingly, roles and interventions are neither simply static and fixed nor fluid and flexible; rather, these are products of past and present attachments. I demonstrate how the different attachments existing in the network at different points in time enable the configuration of particular actors with capacities to enact different roles and interventions in a diversity of contexts and settings. Finally, I illustrate what happens when these attachments are missing and how this influences the researcher’s agency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th European Conference on Information Systems, Barcelona, Spain 2012. Barcelona, Spain 2012
Number of pages12
PublisherAIS Association
Publication date2012
Article number166
ISBN (Print)978-84-88971-54-8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventEuropean Conference on Information Systems - ESADE Business School, Barcelona , Spain
Duration: 10 Jun 201213 Jun 2012


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Information Systems
LocationESADE Business School
Other20th European Conference on Information Systems
Internet address


  • Actor-Network Theory
  • Action Research
  • Information Systems
  • Science and Technology studies
  • Reflexive Methodology
  • Agency

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