The action research model focuses on planned change as a cyclical process in which initial research about the organization provides information to guide subsequent action. Then the results of the action are assessed to provide further information to guide further action, and so on. This iterative (iterate means to repeat) cycle of research and action involves considerable collaboration among organization members and OD practitioners. It places heavy emphasis on data gathering and diagnosis prior to action planning and implementation, as well as careful evaluation of results after action is taken.
Action research is traditionally aimed both at helping specific organizations to implement planned change and at developing more general knowledge that can be applied to other change and settings. Although action research was originally developed to have this dual focus on knowledge, it has been adapted to OD efforts in which the major emphasis is on planned change. Figure 2.1 (B) shows the cyclical phases of planned change as defined by the original research method. The main steps involved are: