On slippery ground: Beyond the innocense of collaborative knowledge production

Birgitte Ravn Olesen, Helle Merete Nordentoft

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The purpose of this article is to discuss the ethical complexity and dilemmas, which arise in the coproduction of knowledge between researchers and other participants.

The starting-point for the article is a narrative from a conference we attended where we, as researchers, found ourselves on slippery and emotionally charged ground. Using a critical, reflexive approach informed by poststructuralism, our ambition was to deconstruct gaps between rhetoric and practice and critique normative understandings of the nature of ethically sound coproduction processes in collaborative research. More specifically, at the conference, we sought to expose and discuss the gap between our good intentions and our own practice as researchers in a collaborative research project at a major hospital. However, instead of reflexive discussions with the research community, we experienced that our conduct was criticized and categorized as unethical practice.

Instead of omitting sensitive phenomena from the research process, we argue that it is an ethical imperative to investigate these phenomena in order to gain insight into what is at stake in dialogical, reflexive processes not only between researchers and research participants – but also between researchers in the research community. An awareness of the emergent nature of power relations in all processes of knowledge production may strengthen the practical validity of “coproduced”
knowledge in action research.

A poststructuralist perspective on collaborative research processes reveals normative expectations regarding ethical research practice and provides insight into the tensions in collaborative research that arise irrespective of the individual competence (or not) of the researcher.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research in Organizations and Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)356-367
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventCritical Management Studies - Britannia Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Jul 20175 Jul 2017
Conference number: 10


ConferenceCritical Management Studies
LocationBritannia Adelphi Hotel
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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