From Research to Action: Four Theories and Their Implications for Knowledge Mobilization
Keywords:Action research, Capacity building, Collaborative entanglement, Community dialogue approach, Community-University research, Knowledge mobilization, Positive youth development, Systemic action research
Integral to both knowledge mobilization and action research is the idea that research can and should ignite change or action. Change or action may occur at multiple levels and scales, in direct and predictable ways and in indirect and highly unpredictable ways. To better understand the relationship between research and action or change, we delineate four conceptualizations that appear in the literature. Reflecting on our experiences as collaborators in a community–university action research project that set out to tackle a “wicked” social problem, we consider the implications of these conceptualizations for the project’s knowledge mobilization plans and activities. The major lessons point to the importance of building capacity by nurturing collaborative learning spaces, of drawing many others – situated differently and with varied perspectives – into dialogue, and of embracing change within the project itself.