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The stories above I hope give an indication of how WBL , based around collaborative inquiry with action research as living theory at its core has the potential of  creating  a new social structure not only for the organisations concerned but also for the Buisnes School; I have suggested elsewhere how the curricula of a Business School  might be driven not only by established disciplines but by new ‘domains’ of knowledge emerging from the reflective practice of its ‘co-researchers’ (rather than students) both inside and outside academia (Critten 2007).

In conclusion

In this paper I have sought to show how co-operative inquiry can lead to the re-construction of what Whitehead and McNiff call ‘social formations’ (2006). In a brief review of the literature I have explored how co-operative inquiry has moved on the debate about action research from being seen as a problem solving methodology to focus on the transforming effect of the process itself. I have drawn attention to the influence of complexity theory on the social construction of organisations (particularly with regard to how knowledge is perceived). Finally I have drawn on my experience with a cohort of managers on a work based learning post graduate programme who have used action research as living theory to validate their claims to knowledge. I conclude by suggesting how the collective claims to knowledge of all 14 managers could lead to social change as long as a process of engaging each level in ‘conversation’ continued. In this way the social construction of change becomes yet another iterative cycle of co-operative inquiry


Barber P (2006) Becoming a Practitioner Researcher: A Gestalt Approach to Holistic Inquiry  Middlesex University Press

Berger P & Luckmann T (1966) The Social Construction of Reality Garden City NY Doubleday

Critten P (2006) ‘Towards a Complexity View of the Knowledge Creating Organisation: Organisations from the inside-out’ International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management Volume 4, 1597-1609

Critten P (2007) ‘New Knowledge from Old – How Researching Practice Could add another Dimension to the Academic Curriculum’  Work Based Learning : A multi-dimensional approach to knowledge.  Universities Association for Life-Long Learning Conference  Middlesex University 5-6 July 2007

Gergen K J (1982) Toward Transformation in Social Knowledge NY Springer-Verlag

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