This research reports on the nature and preference of the relationship between researchers and practitioners, as expressed by both parties. The research methods used in this study included a critical analysis of 28 Masters and doctoral dissertations from a large university in South Africa to examine how they described the researcher–practitioner relationship. This was followed by extended interviews with both the original researchers and the participants in three studies selected from these 28 projects. In addition, two research projects conducted by experienced researchers were included, as well as a discussion on how my participants interacted with me as a researcher. The data were explained through the theoretical frame of a general model developed by Huberman in 1990, not only focusing on the relationship manifested in the research process itself, but also locating the relationship within a broader theoretical frame that seeks to explain the patterns and consequences of such engagement. The findings draw attention to the often uncovered similarities between the two communities, while also highlighting ethics as an area of concern that displays the biggest disjunction between the two communities. In addition, the findings confirm the powerful influence of organisational culture, in this case academic discourse on the behaviour of an individual researcher. On the other hand, however, the findings also point to the individualism manifested in research decisions and processes. Finally, the findings disprove the way in which power is perceived in research situations in the literature. The significance of this study also includes a revisiting of existing theories about insider/outsider positioning and research utilisation and the proposal to extend current debates.