Scholarly Contribution from ART Dr. Erik Eriksson

ART is multi dimensional. It integrates research and practice by working with stakeholders to practical issues of eco-social crisis. Healthcare is one of the UN Sustainability Goals we work with. 

The following video clip is from our colleagues at Chalmers U. who have been involved with large scale transformative healthcare improvement for over a decade. 

What’s interesting here is how Dr. Erik Eriksson  leads in crystallizing one insight (among numerous possibilities).  This is a good example of how all of us best make scholarly contribution from a context of action research, namely by crafting (and publishing) one scholarly contribution.

Discussing how ideas are scholarly and actionable, much less how they are tested in real life, is rather radical! Action researchers are called to offer scholarly and practical outcomes. Both/and. This “walking on two feet” of practice and theory is difficult. For example, junior scholars are trained to focus, solely, on making a scholarly contribution. That’s a deep socialization (hello Descartes! hello conventional social science programs!) Much has been written about this elsewhere. ARJ Associate Editor Victor Friedman quips “there is nothing so theoretical as good action research”  (see Friedman and Rogers, 2009 for an especially clear headed discussion of this matter in the context of practice). 

How then to put our practice into theory?  The video snippet reminds us that practice aligned knowledge creation finds relevance not solely among the original set of stakeholders but also making it possible for insights and practice to move to another set of stakeholders.  Indeed this is precisely how action research “updates” the inherited notion of Newtonian generalizability, (what a wonderful innovation for the Medieval era that was). We do this not by making abstractions so refined as to be un-actionable. We do this by bringing one insight worthy of being polished so that it is of value to other stakeholders. 

In the video snippet Dr. Erik Eriksson delivers one polished contribution. He highlights “value propositions in public collaborations.” In other words of the many things that could be theorized from a decade and more of rich contextual practice, the focus is on one.  Other of their papers do similarly to make other scholarly contributions. In other words, one rich context of practice can (and in this case does) yield several discrete scholarly contributions.

As context it may be helpful to know that Dr. Erik Eriksson’s dissertation was written within a context of large scale action research oriented healthcare improvement. This work was shepherded, with many other colleagues, by action researcher Svante Lifvergren, MD., Ph.D., also an ARJ Associate Editor.

This Swedish transformative approach to healthcare improvement boils down to continuous innovation shaped around evidence of what works. What makes it action research is that it is all co-produced with healthcare providers and patients together. Learn more of that context through one of the many overview papers and discussions. Also a detailed essay (in English and Spanish) by Lifvergren and Zandee is available in the AR+ Cookbooks. The ongoing work has given life to many innovations, huge costs savings and better health outcomes.  And yes! Lots of scholarly contributions too.  Indeed it may describe one of the best elaborated examples of action research in healthcare co-production. 

What does this exemplar mean for other ARTists?  Choose well! It encourages is to choose one aspect from practice that deserves crystallization. And then to develop that as a scholarly contribution for publication.  In ART and within the journal we name this aspect of ART with one of our seven quality choicepoints: namely how the action researching authors make a contribution to scholarship. Because a contribution is also needed to practice, the both/and can be difficult. As Erik Eriksson shows, it may be best realized within a learning group situated close to/around the practice. That’s a topic for another blog post.

For all its complexity, the effort is worth it.  Did you know that the average citation for any paper is shockingly low. Action research is a way of connecting intelligence and sense of purpose in service of a more sustainable world  And it gives the opportunity to crystallize further from practice into scholarly contributions.  Walking on two feet.

Action research is multidimensional. It is a viable alternative to conventional social science. It also revitalizes those who do it.

More on the article discussed: Erik Eriksson, Christian Gadolin, Thomas Andersson, Andreas Hellström, Svante Lifvergren (2021) Value propositions in public collaborations: Regaining organizational focus through value configurations. British Journal of Management