Ethical consideration action research paper

It is part of a larger set of research guidance pages on work with human participants.

Ethical issues in research

This document focuses on action research as it relates to management and business, and in particular research that is aimed at management problem solving and the development of associated frameworks, processes and decision support tools. This kind of research shares some characteristics with consulting practices, where there is a need and desire to support an organisation to address an issue of concern, while also achieving research outcomes.

There is an obligation to provide the client with a service that meets acceptable standards, which may conflict with the research objectives. This involves collaborative interactions within organisations, such as workshops, meetings and interviews. General professional and ethical standards and practices that apply to consultancy services also apply to action-based management research, and are supportive of the ESRC principles of ethical research.

Ethical concerns in consultancy cover areas such as diligence, competence, client interaction, fee arrangements, conflicts of interest, confidentiality and legal responsibilities.

Ethical Considerations

However, these considerations are beyond the scope of this document, which focuses on the impact of the research on human participants. Staff of Cambridge University are able to set up consultancy contracts via the University services organisation, Cambridge University Technical Services. In return for a management fee charged as a percentage of revenue, CUTS will assist with contract negotiation and billing. They also provide professional indemnity insurance , which protects the consultant from liability claims arising from the contract for example, arising from accidental damage to client property, or financial loss arising from considerations that the consultant did not take into account when giving advice.

Cambridge University students are able to contribute as consultants to contracts negotiated via CUTS, but a member of University staff must supervise the work and be named as the primary contractor. In the case of a PhD student carrying out action-based management research, this may be an appropriate arrangement, with the PhD supervisor negotiating the contractual terms. For action-based management research the human participants are generally professional managers and staff in firms and other organisations, with interactions taking place within the context of their business and industry.

Thus, the focus for research interaction is the normal working environment and context, conforming to local health and safety regulations. In most cases the level of risk of harm to human participants entailed in the research will be low.

Managing ethics: considerations and protocols

It is important that the collaborating organisation and participants are made aware of the research goals and activities, and how these might impact on the engagement. Proposals and contractual documents should include consideration of both consulting and research aspects of the engagement where relevant. The issue of confidentiality will normally need to be addressed with a non-disclosure agreement often required , and how this impacts on the research outputs publications will need to be considered in the research design, addressing potential conflicts of interest - i.

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