What is Action Research?

In Vietnam, much of the recent policy research work in the area of private sector development has been focused on either providing a greater understanding of constraints faced to private sector development, or providing the rationale for policies already made by policy makers. However, there has been relatively little research aimed at supporting changes to policies that either hamper or could help develop private sector activity at the district, provincial or national level.

The policy action research component of M4P2 aims to address this situation by supporting action-orientated research that aims to lead to changes in policies. The principle of the action research component focuses on the need for researchers to take a more involved role with other key stakeholders (in the private sector, government, or through business associations) in planning and implementing tangible change in the socio-economic and business realms. This varies from traditional research programmes that typically focus more on delivering research studies and results, without much consideration as to how the research can be ultimately used.

Thus, policy action research is characterised by the following:

  • More demand driven, by seeking to rigorously understand and convey a specific issue, and then giving influential stakeholders within Government and the business sector the evidence base to lobby for a specific change.
  • Research outputs are presented in a multitude of ‘reader friendly’ formats that make the rationale and results easily accessible to stakeholders who have the credibility and capability to drive change.
  • Requires an understanding of not just research concepts and methodologies, but also how the process of change can be supported; who will need the information, as well as who will likely benefit (or lose) from the proposed policy change.