This book is about achieving holistic change in complex social and organisational settings. It focuses on systematic action research, a process through which communities and organisations can adapt and respond purposefully to their constantly changing environment. It supports participative solutions to entrenched problems, and enables to work with uncertainty. Systematic action research also opens up the possibility of strategy development that can meaningfully engage with the complexities of the real world. Systematic action research takes a different approach. It is an embedded learning process through which policy and practice can be constructed on the ground. It is a means for getting things done, which the many stakeholders who are affected by problems, and have a part to play in their resolution own. As such, it is a process that can be built into the ‘everyday’ of community activists, policymakers, professionals and change agents, rather than a specialist process for an expert researcher. The premise on which this book is built is that we can all do it. This book is written within a participatory paradigm. It is not a positivist text whose aim is to prove the effectiveness of systematic action research. Hence, this means that the focus of this book is on narrating and explaining, not on justifying. In addition to discussing the contents of the succeeding chapters and the orientation of the book, the introductory chapter also discusses some of the key definitions that form the core of the book discussion. Some of these definitions include: systematic thinking, action research, action inquiry, and interventions.
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