You Don't use NetScape or Internet Explorer IMCIC 2017
The 8th International Multi-Conference on
Complexity, Informatics and Cybernetics: IMCIC 2017
March 21 - 24, 2017 ~ Orlando, Florida, USA

  Special Track
Special Track on
Action Research and Action Learning: ARAL 2017

Motivation and Purpose

Integration is a main purpose of the International Institute of Informatics and Systemics (IIIS), and it is a main feature of "Action Research," Action-Learning," and Action-Design."

Among the objectives of the IIIS are the following:

  • Integration of Academic Activities: Research, Education, and Consulting/Real life Problem solving.
  • Integration among Academy, Industry, and Society.
  • Integration among disciplines: Inter-Disciplinary Research, Education, and Communication.


Because of the integrative potential of Action-Research in the three dimensions indicated above, the IIIS is organizing a special track on Action Research and Action Learning (ARAL 2017) in the context of its multidisciplinary conferences, and collocated with three other related events (figure 1), with the hope that this special track can grow into a Symposium on action-Research, Action-Learning, and Action-Design.

Our perspective on Action-Research is a systemic-cybernetic one which is 1) a comprehensive one because it include, in an integrative way, the many approaches that might be found on Action-research, and 2) based on a Pluralist Epistemology1 stance or a Scientific Pluralism2. Consequently, our purpose in organizing this Special Track on Action-Research is to bring together scholars, academics, professionals, and practitioners from plural perspectives, diverse disciplines, inter-disciplinary approaches to present specific cases, theories, conceptual structures, models, and methodologies related to Action-Research. Real life special cases approached via Action-Research will certainly be related to other contributions to be made to special tacks being organized on: 1) Case Studies and Methodologies, 2) Integration of Research, Education, and Problem Solving, and 3) Inter-Disciplinary Research, Education, and Communication. This kind of relationships might generate synergic communications among the respective authors.(Figure 1)

Figure 1

A Systemic-Cybernetic Perspective of "Action-Research"

There are several approaches to Action-Research, many of which are opposite to each other. Both opposites are intellectually legitimate, socially useful, managerially practical, and epistemologically valid3. In its origins, action-research was mainly meant to do research via action, and lately it mostly means to take action via research. With the first perspective, research is the purpose and the action was one of the main means. With the second perspective the principal purpose is action and one of the means used is research. Kurt Lewin4, one of the pioneers of Action Research, conceived this kind of research as doing research in the field rather than in a laboratory. On the other side Operations Research has been since its origin oriented to research (basically in mathematical optimization) oriented to support operational decisions to be made before the respective actions. Lewinian approach is an example of theory-driven action, oriented to generate knowledge, while Operation Research is (at least in its origin) an example of practice-driven research, where knowledge is generated as means of supporting decisional processes oriented to take actions.

The difference is basically related to what is sought as an end and what is used as a mean. Figure 2a and 2b schematically visualize of both opposite approaches found in the literature and in the practice of Action-Research. Practitioners and professional tend to prefer doing-through-knowing and theoretically oriented academics and researchers tend to prefer knowing-through-doing. Both complement each other. This is why, in our opinion, several different approaches emerged between these two opposite perspectives, especially in the case of scholars who are trying to integrate academic activities: Research, Education, and Consulting or Real Life Problem Solving.

These two linear approaches have been explicitly referred to in theory and in practice. But, implicitly a non-linear situation happened in many applications of Action-Research to real world situations or problematic situations. Making explicit what actually we observed happening in several real world situations would increase the effectiveness of action-research enquiry for both 1) the generation of new knowledge and/or 2) for supporting more adequate decision making processes and, hence, more effective action.

Figure 3 shows a more suitable model for action-research processes. It is a cybernetic perspective of the relationship between both basic components of Action-Research. It makes explicit the possibilities of 1) co-regulation processes between both components via negative feedback and feedforward, as well as 2) the generation of synergies and emergent properties via positive feedback.

Figure 3

The cybernetic model shown in figure 2 does not exclude any of the opposite perspectives with regards Action-Research because it includes the possibility of figure 1a and figure 1b, as special cases, as well as the case of relating both of them in cybernetic loops.


1. See for example Piety, M. G., 2010, Ways of Knowing: Kierkegaard's Pluralist Epistemology, Baylor University Press.
2. See for example Kellert, S. H., Longino, H. L., and Waters, C. K. (Eds.), 2006, Scientific Pluralism, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
3. We are making this affirmation from the perspective of Epistemological Pluralism, i.e. the view that different epistemological perspectives or methodologies are necessary (or at least desirable) to obtain a comprehensive description of phenomena or problematic situations.
4. Lewin et. al., 1939,"Pattern of aggressive behavior in experimentally created social climates", Journal of Social Psychology, 10, pp. 271-99. (Cited in Gustavsen, B. "Theory and Practice: the Mediating Discourse", in Reason P. and Bradbury, H. (Eds.), 2001, The Handbook of Action Research, London: Sage Publications, pp.17-26)

Submissions on specific cases, theories, methodologies, and/or practice-based reflection are accepted on the following Suggested non-exclusionary Topics

  • Concepts, Theories, and Methodologies of Action Research
  • Specific cases of Action Research, Action Learning, or Action Design
  • Cases Studies and Action Research
  • System Approach and Action Research
  • Information Systems and Action Research
  • Operations Research and Action Research
  • Soft Operations Research
  • Action Research in Production and Operations Management
  • Systems Methodology and Action Research
  • Soft Systems Methodologies
  • Ethnography and Action Research
  • Collaborative Action Research
  • Interdisciplinary Action Research
  • Inter-Cultural Action Research
  • Action Research, Critical Thinking, and Reflective Student Engagement
  • Action Research and Community-Based Organizations
  • Action Research and Student Learning
  • Action Research and Social Change
  • Development of Action Researchers
  • Participatory Action Research (PAR)
  • Action Research for Sustainable Development
  • Qualitative Research and Methodologies

Virtual Sessions

Face-to-face sessions of all events will have associated virtual pre- and post-conference sessions where registered participants can comment each paper in a forum associated to it. Registered participant at any event will have a password to access any virtual session of any collocated event.

Organizational, Reviewing, and Selection of Best Papers Policies

Technical Keynote Speakers

Technical keynote speakers will be selected from early submissions because this selection requires an additional evaluation according to the quality of the paper, assessed by its reviewers, the authors' CV and the paper's topic.

Authors of accepted papers who registered in the conference can have access to the evaluations and possible feedback provided by the reviewers who recommended the acceptance of their papers/abstracts, so they can accordingly improve the final version of their papers. Non-registered authors will not have access to the reviews of their respective submissions.

Virtual Participation

Submissions for Face-to-Face or for Virtual Participation are both accepted. Both kinds of submissions will have the same reviewing process and the accepted papers will be included in the same proceedings.

Pre-Conference and Post-conference Virtual sessions (via electronic forums) will be held for each session included in the conference program, so that sessions papers can be read before the conference, and authors presenting at the same session can interact during one week before and after the conference. Authors can also participate in peer-to-peer reviewing in virtual sessions.

Best Papers

Authors of the best 25%-30% of the papers presented at the conference (included those virtually presented) will be invited to adapt their papers for their publication in the Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics.

One best paper of each session included in the program will be selected by the respective sessions co-chairs after consulting with the sessions audience. If there is a tie in a given session, the paper that will be selected as the best sessions paper will be the one which have had the highest quantitative evaluations average according to its double-blind and non-blind reviews.

The selection process of the best 25%-30%, to be also published in the Journal, will be based on the sessions' best papers and the quantitative evaluation average made by its anonymous and non-anonymous reviewers. The later will be applied to papers which acceptance was based on reviews made to draft papers. Reviews of abstracts and extended abstracts will not be valid for selecting best papers according to the quantitative evaluation of the respective submissions.

   Special Tracks

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