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Workshop One, Session One

Interventionist Research: An Awfully Big Adventure

Presenter: Vicki Baard

Abstract

The purpose of this presentation is to provide a reflective, theoretical and practical (‘head and heart’) perspective of doing cross-disciplinary (management accounting and information systems) Interventionist Research (IR) in small businesses, in doctoral research.  IR is often seen as a derivative of Action Research. However the uniqueness and legitimacy of IR is exemplified, through an intervention theory and research framework derived from social work and related disciplines (e.g. Psychology). IR is considerably more prolific in disciplines such as Nursing, education, Public Health, Dementia, Organisational Development, but this does not preclude the utilisation thereof as a methodology in Accounting and Business disciplines. The aim of IR is to improve community life (including the organisational context) and well-being through the development of interventions, which are effective in various real-life contexts, involving a co-ordinated effort of all participants (including direct immersion of the researcher in the real-life context) who are actually experiencing the problem, resulting in the generation of knowledge relevant for researchers and practitioners. This presentation provides a theoretical perspective to guide researcher engagement with practitioners and industry, not previously used in accounting and management. A limitation concerning IR lies in the rarity of the use of intervention theory for conducting this form of research, which poses a challenge for accounting, business and management scholars. Practically, it could provide valuable insights for guiding researcher engagement with practitioners and industry and to advance the use of IR in Accounting and Business. A reflective perspective emphasises the challenges of undertaking IR and how to reduce the associated risks of engaging with IR. The novelty of this presentation lies in the provision of constructive insights for established and novice researchers, and higher degree research students considering undertaking IR using a rare theoretical perspective, and offering a unique alternative to case-based IR.