How can critical social scientists pursue critically engaged research? This question is addressed by examining how an action research intervention, informed by critical realism, was used to assist a business support agency (SUPPAG) to provide support to new migrant business owners. The article responds to calls for more engaged approaches to research, and more engagement with new migrants in different forms of employment. Key critical realist ideas (layered ontology, mechanisms, morphogenetic loops) shaped: the theoretical perspective; the approach to action research; the findings; and practice at SUPPAG. A key conclusion is that ‘engaged’ research is possible without compromising a commitment to critical scholarship.