I want to discuss a version of collaborative action research oriented toward exploring, and verbally articulating, the real possibilities for making an innovative next step in a specific situation in a particular organization. There are many situations in organizational life in which people express, either very general concerns — for example, a need for people to be more innovative, to trust each other more, and so on — or simply feelings of disquiet, of ‘‘something being not quite right’’ needing to be changed … although they do not know what that ‘‘something’’ is! The research we are often asked to do is precisely to make these vague concerns sufficiently determinate to inform new (or at least modified) practices. But this task, as I see it, following Wittgenstein, entails resolving a difficulty of orientation or of relating rather than solving a problem. Below, the author discusses a dialogically structured action research practice precisely tailored to these orientational needs, along with the theoretical-concepts needed to guide participants in it toward the activities relevant both to its conduct and toward the realization of the possibilities it discloses.
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