Action research for innovation management: three benefits, three challenges, and three spaces
Journal article, 2020

Given that the innovation landscape is changing, and new forms of organization and management are emerging, this study discusses the potential benefits of action research for innovation management (IM) as it provides closeness to living emergent systems, generates rich insights as well as knowledge for both rigorous theory development and change in practice. Drawing from a large‐scale action research study involving a complex collaborative organizational construct, we outline three challenges from employing action research: the process is both reflexive and progressive, the researcher is both an outsider and an insider, and the outcome is both general and specific. A model of three social spaces (the action research space, the academic space, and the practitioner space) is proposed to address the challenges and assist in navigating the multitude of processes, roles, and outcomes associated with action research. The study argues that action research for IM is well suited to exploring tacit aspects of practices and processes in the emergent or shifting study contexts to transform practices through interventions. Thus, if implemented carefully by experienced researchers, it can provide valuable data that are indispensable for theory development in the field of IM.

social space

innovation management

action research


Susanne Ollila

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Anna Yström

Linköping University

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

R and D Management

0033-6807 (ISSN) 1467-9310 (eISSN)

Vol. 50 3 396-411

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Business Administration

Driving Forces

Innovation and entrepreneurship



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7/5/2021 3