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Bjørn Gustavsen. In Memoriam

We have just learned that Bjørn Gustavsen died recently at the age of 79. Bjørn  was a Norwegian academic and working life researcher active in Scandinavia in a career that saw significant contribution to the field of action research. Bjørn was Director of the Work Research Institute (1972–1983) and Professor at the Arbetslivscentrum in Stockholm (1986–1999), the University of Oslo (1995–1999) and in more recent years at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the Work Research Institute, Oslo Metropolitan University.

Øyvind Pålshaugen, Robert Salomon, Arild Henrik Steen shared with us on behalf of their colleagues at the Work Research Institute that “…with Bjørn Gustavsen’s death, the Labor Research Institute mourns the loss of one of its most important colleagues. Bjørn was a pioneer through his ability to initiate and carry out major research programs in which employer organizations, employee organizations and the authorities participated, in Sweden as well as in Norway. The idea behind these programs was that businesses could achieve better results and workers would have more influence and more meaningful tasks. Bjorn played a central role in the drafting of the  Norwegian Working Environment Act and also participated in the design of regulations and guidelines for its implementation.”

Bjørn Gustavsen should be remembered by the ARJ community as a community builder, dedicated to and knowledgeable and practiced with  growing networks of influence. Bjørn refreshed action research by introducing democratic dialogue and had a significant impact on how many of us think and organize as action researchers. He crystallized the intellectual contribution of Action Research for philosophy of science by writing of Action Research on its own terms, thereby privileging the primacy of practice. He clarified, for example, how it’s a mistake to seek generalization of research findings. Instead he called action researchers to pay attention to how to build social capital and the kinds of social networks that build on good experiments for additional and increasing communities of stakeholders. His own work exemplified this exhortation; he walked his talk.

We are proud that Bjorn published three articles with ARJ. We are happy to make these freely available to all readers. We also invite readers to share what they learned from Bjorn. We wonder what have been the ripple effects of Bjorn’s influence on your theory and practice of action research?

Bjorn’s three published articles can be accessed here by clicking on the links below.

  1. Social Impact and the justification of action research knowledge.
  2. New forms of knowledge production and the role of action research.
  3. Action Research, practical challenges and the formation of theory.

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