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I’ve been quite fascinated with the concept of ‘authenticity’ since I encountered it in TU812 –  so I was a little surprised when I did a search that I have not written a post with this title before.  I did however mention the concept in this post where I mentioned the definition offered by Krippendorff

the pleasure of participating in togetherness in which one is free to speak for oneself, not in the name of absent others, not under pressure to say things one does not believe in, and not having to hide something for fear of being reprimanded or excluded from further conversation (Krippendorff, cited in Ison, 2010,311)

My fascination stems from the subjective nature of someone else experiencing you as authentic.  You cannot guarantee that others will experience their relationships with you in a way that would lead them to use the word ‘authentic’ to describe you.  You can only create the conditions that it is more likely that they will than they won’t – and what ‘works’ for one person may ruffle someone else’s feathers.  So how can I reliably evaluate my own authenticity in a reflexive way?

So that was where I was at – and then as I started my research into Research, I have come across the concept again.  In the book on action research that I am reading (Coghlan and Brannick, 2010).

Coghlan and Brannick suggest that for action researchers, authenticity becomes characterised by four process imperatives.  Process because it is about ‘how’ you do something.  Imperatives because they point to what ought to be.

The process imperatives are

  • Be attentive (to the data)
  • Be intelligent (in inquiry)
  • Be reasonable (in making judgements)
  • Be responsible (in making decisions and taking action)

(Coghlan and Brannick, 2010, 23)

The first three of these derive from the general empirical method, which in turn are based on the cognitive operations of experience, understanding and judgement.  The fourth is added because C&B are writing about action research which includes taking action.

Whilst this explanation resonates with me, I am left with somewhat of a gap – in terms of relating to others.  Should I also adopt a fifth process imperative like “Be open (in relating to others)”

Useful food for thought.


Ison, R. (2010) Systems Practice: How to act in a climate-change world, Open University/Springer, Milton Keynes/London

Coghlan, D. and Brannick, T. (2010) “Doing action research in your own organisation”, 3rd edition, Sage Publications, London.

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