Facilitating Learning and Use of Information Systems with Action Research: Creating Communicate Spaces for Experimenting, Learning and Improvements

John K. Christiansen, Morten Wellendorf

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Is it possible to improve the usefulness of information systems by facilitating local learning processes with action research by creating communicative spaces to facilitate dialogue between the thought worlds of information systems designers and different groups of practitioners? The present research offers a report from and analysis of a new approach not reported in prior research.
The research reported here is based on the assumption that organizational defensive routines and different conceptual understandings can be overcome by a process that facilitates a playful experimental attitude on the improvement of the use of information systems by facilitating the creation of a communicative space for dialogue between different epistemic cultures and forms of knowledge within an action research project context.
We analyze three connected action research projects in three units within the same public organization. The organization had implemented an advanced Electronic Data Management System (EDMS) but the administrative top managers realized that the system could be used to improve administration further.
The contribution from this research is threefold: First, we introduce the notion of communicative spaces and experimental approaches into the area of information system. Second, the developed method is tested in three different projects and thus itself is representing an experimental approach. Third, but applying an experimental approach, we can draw some preliminary observations on the conditions for applying such and experimental method to improve the use and usefulness of information systems.
One project was successful while two others failed in terms of direct successful outcomes. The failures illustrate some limitations with the experimental communicative space approach. Being accepted to perform actions research and conducting the experiments and dialogues do not guarantee success if strong defense routines are in place. Even top management support can't overcome these, and the attempts by the process facilitators to unfreeze or even discuss the un-discussable failed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventThe 18th European Academy of Management Conference (EURAM) 2018: Research in Action – Accelerating knowledge creation in management - Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 19 Jun 201822 Jun 2018


ConferenceThe 18th European Academy of Management Conference (EURAM) 2018
Internet address


  • Action research
  • Epistemic cultures
  • Communicative spaces
  • Organizational learning
  • Defensive routines
  • Public sector
  • Information systems
  • Electronic data management systems

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