Purpose The paper aims to explore the problematics of validity that are inherent to the conduct of an action research project because of the disparate language games of both practitioners and academics. Design/methodology/approach An exploration is offered of the tensions between different understandings of a research setting at different stages of the research process. Findings In each phase of the research there are a number of tensions between different epistemological assumptions about the “reality” of the research setting. Validity is not, therefore, about capturing a singular objective picture of the organisation, but rather it is produced through the negotiation of a temporary intersection of language games. Research limitations/implications The paper provides a framework for understanding the role of the researcher in the research process and the issues underlying validity claims made from different epistemological positions. Practical implications The paper provides insights in to the mechanisms through which practitioners and academics come to understand each other and the limitations of this knowledge. Originality/value The article raises awareness of the different normative assumptions at play within a variety of action research contexts.
- Action research