Using Action Research to Implement an Operating Efficiency Initiative in a Local Government

  • Jesus García-Navarro
  • F. Javier Ramírez
  • M. Jose Ruíz-Ortega
Original Paper


Maximizing available resources is essential to maintain the economic viability of public institutions. In order to enhance the operational efficiency of the Economic Activities Department of the Madrid City Council (Spain), we have applied an Action Research (AR) initiative. A multidisciplinary collaborative team was created and three AR learning cycles were planned and implemented across the entire management process. Key performance metrics to quantify the improvements were defined, collected and measured. Implementation of the AR initiative, and a multiple case study, led to significant improvements in the processing time of administrative proceedings, as well as the total number of inspections and resolutions. In addition, learning proposals for governments and academy were launched in order to generate and document knowledge which could be applied to other public services. This research work extends the use of AR to public institutions. The application of AR in the selected procedure developed in this city council allowed to generate knowledge in relation to how this methodology must be used to improve other administrative procedures, operational efficiency and, as result, citizen satisfaction.


Action research Local government Operational efficiency Madrid City Council 



This work was partially supported by the Spanish “Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness” and the European Union (FEDER Funds), ECO2013-42387-P and ECO2016-75781-P projects. The authors would also like to thank the management staff of the Madrid City Council and the personnel of the Economic Activities Department for their help in implementing this successful Action Research initiative.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economic Activities of the Activities Agency, Madrid City CouncilMadridSpain
  2. 2.School of Industrial Engineering, Department of Business AdministrationUniversity of Castilla-La ManchaAlbaceteSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences, Department of Business AdministrationUniversity of Castilla-La ManchaAlbaceteSpain

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