Self-constructed performances: engaged research with communities

Herron, Rebecca and Vilalta-perdomo, Eliseo Luis (2005) Self-constructed performances: engaged research with communities. Systemica: Journal of the Dutch Systems Group, 15 (1-6). pp. 27-34. ISSN 0167-9961

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Self-constructed performances: engaged research with communities
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Abstract

In the course of everyday engaged research work in the Community O.R. Unit we have
frequently been asked to explore issues of performance in social and community contexts.
In many cases community groups or collective actors are engaging with government or
other statutory bodies and the interest (from both sides) is in accounting for allocation of
public resources. Institutional bodies typically embody deeply-held beliefs about performance
measurement and target-setting which do not always sit well with cultures and
beliefs in community contexts. This difference may frequently cause tension and even
conflict; it also creates challenges for a researcher engaging him/herself between these
different perspectives. The situation is itself further complicated when it comes to writing
up research and making sense of it within the academic community, by the distinctions
frequently used by this audience. In particular, performance analysis of any kind is frequently
assumed to be an uncritical, naively-objective activity, incapable of the subtleties
of thought associated with interpretation and socially-constructed norms and ‘realities’.
We tentatively argue here that far from representing an externally imposed view of reality,
data analysis may be used as an arena (language) for describing views of collective activity
that are constructed in the interaction between the actors involved (the researcher being
an actor him/herself).We posit this might be used to create a powerful (sustainable) story
with the full participation of community members.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:In the course of everyday engaged research work in the Community O.R. Unit we have frequently been asked to explore issues of performance in social and community contexts. In many cases community groups or collective actors are engaging with government or other statutory bodies and the interest (from both sides) is in accounting for allocation of public resources. Institutional bodies typically embody deeply-held beliefs about performance measurement and target-setting which do not always sit well with cultures and beliefs in community contexts. This difference may frequently cause tension and even conflict; it also creates challenges for a researcher engaging him/herself between these different perspectives. The situation is itself further complicated when it comes to writing up research and making sense of it within the academic community, by the distinctions frequently used by this audience. In particular, performance analysis of any kind is frequently assumed to be an uncritical, naively-objective activity, incapable of the subtleties of thought associated with interpretation and socially-constructed norms and ‘realities’. We tentatively argue here that far from representing an externally imposed view of reality, data analysis may be used as an arena (language) for describing views of collective activity that are constructed in the interaction between the actors involved (the researcher being an actor him/herself).We posit this might be used to create a powerful (sustainable) story with the full participation of community members.
Keywords:Self-organising collectives, performance analysis, evaluation, Social Construction, Operational Research
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N220 Institutional Management
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Business School
ID Code:1267
Deposited By: Jill Partridge
Deposited On:04 Oct 2007
Last Modified:18 Jun 2013 14:33

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