There is a strong belief that both researchers and practitioners have an important
role to play in changing and bettering human conditions. However, behind the
scenes there are heated debates about how research findings can be turned into
practical meaningful information that could be applied in everyday practice. The
challenge for researchers is to organise their endeavours in such a way that they
produce benefits to practitioners. Even more important is for practitioners and
researchers to develop a cumulative body of knowledge for change.
Research methods and techniques have become increasingly less useful for
solving practical problems. One of the main reasons for this is the huge gap
between theory and research. In short research and thus theory, lacks relevance
and usefulness when faced with problems in the real world (practice). As is clear
from the above the main aims of action research are not only to contribute to the
development of theory or to address the practical problems experienced by people,
but to develop the self-help competencies of people facing problems.
Action research therefore has the potential to help close the gap between theory
and practice by bringing both the researcher and the practitioner as equals into
the research process. The question is why action research has thus far not had any
remarkable success in this regard.