Chapter 10 explores what is often experienced as the most difficult challenges of doing action research in your own organization – managing ethics and politics. Managing ethics in the project is usually not a problem in itself; action researchers are generally very person-centred and ethically conscious. The challenge around ethics in doing action research in your own organization is getting through ethical review boards as they typically don’t understand action research and work from different categories and assumptions about research.
When you are engaging in action research in your own organization, politics are powerful forces. You need to consider the impact of the process of inquiry, who the major players are, and how you can engage them in the process. As you engage in your action research project, you need to be prepared to work the political system, which involves balancing the organization’s formal justification of what it wants in the project with your tacit personal justification for political activity. Throughout the project you will have to maintain your credibility as an effective driver of change and as an astute political player.
Ethics and politics are interrelated. Ethics involve, not only not deceiving or doing harm, but being true to the process. This does not mean being politically naïve, but rather recognising who the key political players are and how they can value the research by participating in it. It may seem that political dynamics are the major obstacle to doing action research in your own organization and it may put you off.