Action Research in Supply Chain Management--a Framework for Relevant and Rigorous Research

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ACTION RESEARCH IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT—A FRAMEWORK FOR RELEVANT AND RIGOROUS RESEARCH by Dag Näslund University of North Florida and Lund University Rahul Kale University of North Florida and Antony Paulraj University of North Florida

INTRODUCTION Scholars in the field of business management have frequently debated the relative importance of rigor and relevance in business research. In fact, there are an increasing number of articles that discuss the problems associated with the lack of relevance in published business research. Relevant research “develops insights that help managers understand themselves and their organizations better” (Markides 2007, p.765). On the
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In spite of its potential to address relevant research questions, few published action research-based articles exist within the field of supply chain management (Näslund 2002). In fact, these studies are so rare that they almost constitute the “White Space” of research in the field (Frankel and Näslund 2005). One reason for this reluctance to adopt AR can be attributed to the lack of rigor in some of the previously published works. Alvesson (1996, p.456) wrote “…much qualitative research is as superficial as questionnaire studies.” Case research has, unfortunately, been used as an excuse for “industrial tourism”—visiting lots of organisations without any pre-conceived ideas as to what is being researched” (Voss, Tsikriktsis, and Frohlich 2002, p.196). Similarly, a criticism of AR is that it more resembles consulting versus rigorous research; that is, consulting “masquerading as research” (Coughlan and Coghlan 2002, p.237). Naturally, being applied and relevant cannot and should not be an excuse for doing research that is not rigorous. Accordingly, when a rigorous methodology is adopted, AR can provide significant research contributions for both practice and academia. With the belief that rigor and relevance are essential

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