The central question in this article is how the use of a survey
feedback methodology in action research can improve organizational
change and enable all organization members involved to learn to
change more effectively. Action research is based on the
supposition that actors in organizations have useful and detailed
practical knowledge and experience. Researchers, on the other hand,
have knowledge about and experience in conducting research and
theoretical knowledge about organizational change processes.
Together, these two groups can examine the nature and causes of
problems, make sense of research results, learn about the
of organizational change and make choices for interventions.
Action research can be used as a method to improve
organizational change and to stimulate learning processes in and
between organizations. Interactive feedback sessions of research
results offer opportunities to understand the reasons underlying
failure and stimulate interaction processes as well as a joint
search process for alternative action. Making sense together of the
reasons underlying failure can help people in organizations learn
future change processes more effectively.
In this article we present a case study in which barriers to
organizational change were studied and discussed with all
organization members involved in a change process. We investigated
the factors underlying the problems experienced by a Dutch
institution for socio-cultural work in the implementation of
self-directed teams. A questionnaire was used to map the approach
and management of the change process and give insight into the
experiences organization members had with the change process. This
questionnaire was distributed among all
organization members concerned. We provided feedback on the issues
raised in the interviews and the questionnaire to all team members.
The team members then engaged in interactive sessions to understand
the factors underlying their difficulties in working together in
self-directed teams. Each team chose the problems that were most
important for that team as a starting point for improvement. The
team members thoroughly studied these problems and all teams
suggested a range of possible solutions. These solutions were then
discussed and actions were chosen.