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Action Research strategies at the “third place”

Hans Chr. Garmann Johnsen, Jon P. Knudsen, Roger Normann

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This article discusses action research strategies in regional development. It argues that regional settings are complex, and conceptualises this as the “third place”. This complexity implies a democratic challenge. Furthermore, using regional leadership as a case, it argues that in order to approach this as action researchers, one needs to discuss the assumptions the research is based on. The article discusses two action research approaches: the socio-technical approach and the democratic dialogue approach, and argues that in the complex setting of the “third place”, and at a pragmatic level, one might use insights from the two approaches. The argument for this is that regional development in practical terms both implies functional and structural challenges, but is also a matter of meaning construction. We discuss this as sequential governance.

Keywords: action research, third place, democracy, regional leadership, socio-technical, democratic dialogue, sequential governance