Current Issues in Method and Practice Cross-community enactive research: a relational practice-based approach to academic engagement
To respond to the call for broader ways to understand academic engagement in sustainable tourism, I conceptualized a relational practice-based approach, termed cross-community enactive research. Relying on central ideas from the enactive research approach by entrepreneurship scholar Bengt Johannisson, which draws on autoethnography and action research, and the communities of practice theory by educationalist Etienne Wenger, this approach involves researchers playing the temporary role of practitioners, with other practitioners. I applied such approach to an exploratory case concerning my participation in a collaborative, sustainable tourism project. The case discussion highlighted the non-linearity and mutuality of deep academic engagement. Such engagement has evolved over time as a growing web of relationships and roles, along which the processes relative to identity (being/becoming a sustainability-engaged person), knowledge (thinking sustainability) and action (doing sustainability) occur across diverse practices, sectors, and contexts. The case showed the potential of the elaborated approach for real-world impact, especially on the involved practitioners and destinations, and highlighted challenges about researchers’ multiple roles, the formalization of their engagement in non-academic activities, and the research impact’ predictability and novelty.