Sustainable Development and Participatory Action Research: A Systematic Review

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23 Scopus citations


Sustainable development scholars are employing participatory action research to establish platforms for collaborative inquiry and knowledge integration. While this action research tradition supports the revitalization of scholarly influence in sustainability policy and practice, its recent expansion into new topics and disciplines suggests the need for broad-based evaluation. To fulfill this task, I conduct a systematic review of the last decade of peer-reviewed research. The results of this study advance scholarly knowledge in three critical ways. By mapping the field, I identify global patterns of engagement and assemble an interdisciplinary toolbox of methods for research and action. By interrogating descriptions of methodology and lessons learned, I uncover key issues with research and practice, including threats to methodological integrity. By connecting empirical insights with the discourse on ethics, I clarify research standards and suggest strategies for improving engagement. This article brings coherence to an emergent and potentially transformative field that is located at the crossroads of sustainability and participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-306
Number of pages16
JournalSystemic Practice and Action Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Development ethics
  • Interdisciplinary methods
  • Participatory action research
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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