Action Research: The underlying approach of the Understanding Communities Project

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The Understanding Communities Project within the Bushfire CRC aims to provide a better understanding of the relationship between communities and their Fire Service providers. The project operates within an action research framework. It was decided to provide a review of  (participatory) action research to allow a more explicit understanding of the underlying research  process of the project by the fire services and other stakeholders (including other researchers).  Stakeholders may in fact find the review useful in other contexts. 

The themes are addressed in this review:

1. An overview of the activities in the Understanding Communities Project.

2. What is (Participatory) Action Research? and

3. How has (Participatory) Action Research been used in organisational development?

In section one, a short overview of the Understanding Communities Project is provided

In section two, a general overview is provided of the Action Research paradigm and one of the  related methodologies which come under its umbrella: Participatory Action Research (PAR). The  foundations of the action research approach; the definitions provided by its proponents, including  the principles which guide research practice; and the process by which the research is undertaken is  summarised in this section. 

In section three, a critique of participatory action research studies completed in the field of  organisational development is provided. Secondly, a there is a rationale for the use of PAR as a  suitable methodology for the Understanding Communities (C1) Project. 

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