This paper concerns the use of action research within a research institute both to meet immediate objectives of the staff and to learn about the research methodology. In a situation characterised by decreased funding and curriculum reform based on the concepts of experiential learning, the Checkland soft-systems methodology was adopted to manage a change in the role of university farms using a consensus approach. Two outcomes of the research process were (i) improvement in financial returns in the farms, a better working climate and greater use of farms in experiential education, and (ii) the researchers learned about the methodology and how it is able to accommodate purposeful behaviour and issues of power. Following description of the initial situation, the paper outlines the steps involved in applying the soft-systems methodology to that situation.
This paper will be of interest to those involved in action research, particularly within educational institutions.