Co-research: a new methodology for new times

Hartley, Jean and Benington, John (2000). Co-research: a new methodology for new times. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 9(4) pp. 463–476.



This article describes an innovative methodology based on inter-organizational collaboration between academics and practitioners, using a “co-research ” method that builds on but goes beyond the methodology of insider/outsider research teams. Co-research establishes a dialectical process of enquiry by drawing on the complementary perspectives, interests, skills, and knowledge bases of academics and practitioners. Co-research is based on a triad of research roles. First, the academic responsible for the research, who manages the research team and who contributes an “outsider” view of the organization. Second, the host manager employed by the organization being researched. This person brings an “insider” perspective on the organization. Third, the co-researcher from a different organization who carries out the research alongside the academic(s). He or she is an “insider” in that they are familiar with the type of organization being researched, but an “outsider” in that their own organization has a different context and processes. This article argues that co-research is effective in producing valid organizational research, partly through the harnessing of inside/outsider knowledge and partly through “surprise and sense-making” (Louis, 1980). The research paradigm is one of knowledge generation through a negotiated and dialectical approach to organizational processes.

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