Action research is now a well established research approach within information systems. Action
research is defined as having dual purposes; contributing to changes in a local practice and to the
scientific body of knowledge. It is often seen as way to ensure practical relevance in the research.
However, in the definitions of action research nothing is explicitly said about the need to develop
general knowledge of practical relevance and usefulness. As an alternative and a complement to
action research, another research approach is elaborated: practical inquiry. This approach relies on
pragmatic philosophy. Practical inquiry shares many similarities with action research, but there are
some important differences. The purpose of a practical inquiry is, through empirical study on
practical matters in local practices, to contribute to general practical knowledge. This practical
knowledge will be part of the scientific body of knowledge and it aims to be useful for practical affairs.
In many situations, practical inquiry will also include intervention, of varying degrees, into the studied
local practices. The general practical knowledge is often formulated as practical theories. Purposes
and constituents of practical theories are described. An illustration of a combined practical inquiry
and action research study is described in the paper.
Goldkuhl, Goran, "Practical Inquiry as Action Research and Beyond" (2008). ECIS 2008 Proceedings. 118.