Finnish Developmental Work Research (Dwr) – A Powerful Research Paradigm With Policy Possibilities?


  • Rupert Tipples Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, Lincoln University
  • Roberta Hill WEB research
  • Ken Wilson WEB research



Finnish, Development, Pip Fruit, Dairy Industries


Finnish Developmental Work Research (DWR) has been used in New Zealand by WEB Research, who have been world leading exponents of the approach. Over a twenty year period they used the approach in such varied research locales as the public sector (IRD, Immigration, NZQA), public/private organizations (Dutch Rail; the New Zealand Pip Fruit and Dairy Industries), and the private sector (a furniture manufacturer, two meat companies; and in the Wool and Meat Industries).

However, the requirements of the approach, and of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) on which it is based, often did not sit comfortably with the New Zealand research environment at the end of the twentieth century. Consequently, sometimes research was foreclosed early before full results were apparent.

This presentation will review the original DWR research approach and WEB’s use of it. It will then contrast two recent New Zealand primary industry applications in the Pip Fruit and Dairy Industries. The former led to spectacular policy success with the development and adoption of the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. The latter’s research component has been terminated. Application of the research results now rests with DairyNZ, the sponsors of the project, who have taken the extension of the research into their own hands. Conclusions are drawn on the key components of a successful application of the approach.


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