Researcher as Stakeholder: Shaman, Snake-Oil Salesman, or Sell-Out?

Thomas E. Feucht, National Institute of Justice

The temptation confronting the social science researcher to become a stakeholder -- a collaborator, active contributor, and interested party -- in a program or intervention is often irresistible. Indeed, participation by the research partner in actually running programs, identifying and solving problems, and generally "having a stake" in program outcomes is frequently sought by practitioners and actively encouraged by some institutions of the research community. This paper addresses the ways in which this level of involvement presents a potential conflict with core scientific principles, whether the researcher-as-stakeholder represents substantial value-added, and the circumstances in which this approach is more and less useful for advancing research and practice.

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Updated 05/20/2006