From Consent to Mutual Inquiry:Balancing Democracy and Authority in Action Research

Sonia Ospina, Jennifer Dodge, Bethany Godsoe, Joan Minieri, Salvador Reza, Ellen Schall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Leadership for a Changing World (LCW) program is a joint endeavor between the Ford Foundation, the Advocacy Institute, and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. This paper focuses on the experiences of the Research and Documentation component of LCW – lead by a research team from the Wagner School – during the initial implementation phases of the research. This component formed an inquiry group consisting of both academic researchers and social change practitioners to collaboratively explore and discover the ways in which communities doing social change engage in the work of leadership. We used group relations theory to understand a series of critical dilemmas and contradictions experienced by the coresearchers. This paper identifies four such paradoxes that center around issues of democracy and authority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-69
Number of pages23
JournalAction Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • action research
  • group relations
  • leadership
  • paradox
  • social change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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