How Action Research Can Make Deliberative Policy Analysis More Transformative

Koen Bartels, Davydd J. Greenwood, Julia Wittmayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


Hajer and Wagenaar originally proposed Deliberative Policy Analysis (DPA) as an approach suited to transforming a policy world characterized by complexity, pluralism and unpredictability. Because its transformative ambitions have long remained unfulfilled, DPA has begun embracing a variety of Action Research (AR) approaches committed to generating policy change in a world beset by multiple sustainability crises. However, a systematic assessment of how AR can make DPA more transformative has been absent thus far. We argue that AR can strengthen the transformative ambitions of DPA in three ways. First, it helps clarify the purposes of DPA based on a critical and relational worldview emanating from their shared pragmatist foundations. Second, it unveils the structural challenges of becoming more transformative in the shadow of the hegemonic institutional organization of academic and policy systems. Finally, it provides a heuristic framework for engaging in the critical-relational dynamics of generating policy change and sustainability transitions. We conclude with a number of recommendations, based on AR principles, practices and experiences, that deliberative policy analysts can adopt to help their initiatives become more transformative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-410
Number of pages18
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020


  • Deliberative policy analysis
  • action research
  • transformation
  • hegemony
  • sustainability
  • criticality
  • relationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration


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