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Action Research for Sustainability


Action Research for Sustainability

Reflections on Transition Management in Practice.


Wittmayer, Julia et al. 2013: Action Research for Sustainability – Reflections on transition management in practice. [Research Brief]. Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

Action research is the collaborative production of scientifically and socially relevant knowledge through a participatory process. Real-life problems are addressed and new theoretical insights gained. This research brief introduces the concepts of action research, sustainability transitions, and transition management. It presents key issues for conducting action research and how these have been dealt with in the practice of the research teams in the three communities of the InContext project. Furthermore, it reflects on the role of the action researcher. The research brief is available for download.

Current societal challenges and discussions on the relevancy of science increase the need and opportunity for action research. However, action researchers working in the pursuit of sustainability are not neutral analysts and should engage in self inquiry and reflection. The practical experience from InContext shows that transparency, trust building and adapting to the local context are crucial in opening up and maintaining communicative spaces.

These and further lessons are presented in the research brief. It is one of several papers which present the results of InContext. The InContext project has identified framework conditions that enable societal transitions towards an environmentally sound, economically successful, and culturally diverse future. Other publications of the project InContext include a policy brief on How the EU can support local transition processes, a policy brief on how local governments and initiatives can work together and a poster series which presents initiatives for a more sustainable lifestyle. The Key Messages [pdf, 1.8 MB, English] are available here.

Current societal challenges and discussions on the relevancy of science increase the need and opportunity for action research

More content from this project

Dr. Ralph Piotrowski
Julia Wittmayer
Niko Schäpke
Georg Feiner
Frank van Steenbergen
Stefanie Baasch
Published by
24 pp.
Project ID
Table of contents
action research, sustainability, sustainable communities, bottom-up initiatives, governance tools, local governments, participation