Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


In SJIS volume 20 (2008), Mathiassen and Nielsen analyzed engaged scholarship in Scandinavian IS research. They conclude that the collaborative research practice and tra- dition for conducting action research projects might be jeopardized by a recent and general tendency to publish in compliance with traditional IS research publication channels: Invest- ing a substantial amount of time in collaborating with industry partners and communicat- ing results specifically to practitioners does not contribute efficiently to maintaining a high publication volume in academic journals. In this article, I contribute to a debate concerning this issue. Action research is without doubt an exciting and relevant research strategy for IS providing first-hand experiences of IS theory in practice. However, the recent publication trend may be incommensurable with some of the characteristics of engaged scholarship as represented by two critical challenges inherent when conducting action research projects: (1) Action research is a very time-consuming way of producing empirical data and there is a high risk for the project not evolving as planned, which might lead to the failure of acquir- ing the anticipated empirical data. (2) Action research is also personally demanding and challenging because it entails a close engagement with and commitment to collaborating industrial practitioners. I characterize action research projects and compare action research to the case study research approach. I present the above mentioned challenges of action research and give examples from my own experiences. Finally, I discuss possible ways for the IS community to sustain engaged scholarship and maintain our productive traditions for conducting action research projects.