18     Grounded theory (3)



Speaking only for myself ...


We've been exploring the notion that action research generates a form of grounded theory: theory grounded in experience.  The previous "occasional piece" addressed a number of elements of this:

  • the alternation between theory and practice
  • the resemblance of each action research spiral to a sort of experiment, and
  • the nature of the theory in addressing action.

I suggested as a possible form of such a theory:

In situation S, to produce outcomes O1, O2, ..., try actions A1, A2, ...

In this occasional piece I'd like explore further some of the features of this form of grounded theory.

First, it seems to me that in this form, theory can to some extent integrate the local and the global.  It emerges from the local, because it is often local evidence and understanding the builds it.  Yet it is stated in general terms.  It is framed in a way that allows it to be tried and tested in other settings.

Second, it can to some extent integrate the subjective and the objective.  The participants invest the theories with their own values and meanings.  At the same time the theories gain objectivity in its most pragmatic sense by being tested against reality through action.




Copyright Bob Dick 1998-2000.  May be copied if it is not included in any
material sold at a profit, and this and the following notice are shown

This may be cited as:   Bob Dick (1998) Grounded theory (3).  Occasional
pieces in action research methodology, # 18.  Available online at

Version 1.2;  last modified 20000101


These "occasional pieces" form part of a substantial action research site at
Southern Cross University.  To access the "front page" of the site, click