Category: Research MethodologyWhat is the difference between Grounded theory research and Action research?

This close friend and Phd scholar whom I often ask for help with my research proposal writing,  had suggested Action Research as a qualitative research method for my research proposal in the management area. She had recommended it because I’m supposed to design a research project examining  the HR policies implemented by the MNC that I work for( and will be funding my doctoral program), and design a model for their improvement. However I’m confused about one aspect of the research, since I’m going to design my research design and model on the basis of the examination of the existing policies  of the company and the data that I collect , shouldn’t it be counted as under Grounded research? I’m very confused which of the two methods would be relevant for my research? Could someone clearly define the difference between the Grounded research method and Action research so that I can solve this dilemma? I would like people to respond ASAP since it is high time I started writing the proposal in order to meet the application deadlines.

asked on 21 Jan 18Aditi SharmaAditi Sharma Staff
3 Answers
answered on 22 Jan 18

I can understand your dilemma, it is easy to confuse the two research methods as they are similar enough. As per my understanding though the Action research method is relevant for your proposal because you will be implementing the research model you come up with in the organization that you work for. Another thing to be noted about this method is that it often follows a cyclical approach, wherein the data that you collect is used to refine your research model further and so on. With every cycle of data collection and analysis you improve your model further and then try implementing it to gauge results. I do not know much about grounded theory but I don’t think it follows a cyclical approach as action research does.

answered on 22 Jan 18

 I would just like to add that it is not necessary that you use a singular research approach, from what I know most instances of Participatory action research (PAR) use grounded theory as well. I don’t see why you can’t do the same thing and combine the two research methods for your research project. If you present a good case for combining the two methods I don’t see why your proposal should get rejected. Here is a paper on how to go about integrating the two research methods that you can look at –
Hope this helps in sorting out your confusion!

answered on 23 Jan 18

I have used participatory action research (PAR) along with Grounded theory for my PhD research project. My research was based on healthcare, basically it looked at how caring for a dying family member leads to “care burdens” on the people involved in the care taking process. This theme was refined by interviewing participants who were at various stages of the care-giving process. Analysing the responses provided during the data collection was used to complicate and restructure the theory of “care burdens ”. In following this design the data collection process helped to “Ground” the theory of “ care burdens” subsequently developed after the data was acquired through interviews, and the repetitive and cyclical nature of the research makes sure that it fits the bill of PAR.

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