Independent scholar, cat addict, tattoo lover

Since decades, outsiders criticize The Ivory Tower for its seclusion. Today, insiders proclaim a crisis within the tower itself. Staff publicly criticize conditions for research and teaching. Here I reflect as on my experiences as an action researcher within academia and address the question of espoused theories and theories-in-use in academic practice. My starting point is the case of an academic business school that was renowned for successful educational innovations. I wondered its success could be explained by the organizational theories of its staff. My method was the learning history. In theory, with this method insiders and experts collaboratively reconstruct a successful event. Its action perspective is that the success story is disseminated in workshops and translated into strategies for large-scale replication. In my case, however, there was no development or change, only my exit. First I describe the case. Then I discuss it in light of literature about learning and innovation in academia. I critically examine my own role and conclude with some considerations.    

Basten (2012). Through the looking glass. A narrative of non change. Educational Action Research, Vol 20 No. 1 (95-111).
Request this paper via