Organizing reflexivity in designed change: the ethnoventionist approach

Alfons van Marrewijk (Department of Culture, Organization and Management, Faculty of Social Science, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Marcel Veenswijk (Department of Culture, Organization and Management, Faculty of Social Science, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Stewart Clegg (Faculty of Business, Centre for Management and Organization Studies, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Publication date: 25 May 2010



The purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the role of intervention‐oriented scientists in the process of organisation development. The paper seeks to contribute to the growing interest in design studies for organisation development and argues that a focus on reflexivity is missing in current debate. The aim of the paper to develop critical reflexiveness for organization design studies by introducing the ethnoventionist approach.


The paper discusses the ideal forms of clinical inquiry, participative action research, ethnography, and the ethnoventionist approach. The ethnoventionist approach is described by its central aspects: a focus on reflexivity, a management (but not managerialist) orientation, commitment to obtaining a deep understanding, connecting the multi‐layered context, and studying in pre‐arranged longitudinal intervals.


The ethnoventionist approach uses organisational ethnographies to facilitate intervention strategies intended to improve organisations. An example of such an approach in the design of new collaborative practices in the Dutch construction sector is drawn on.

Practical implications

The essence of the ethnoventionist approach is to obtain a deeper understanding of organisational change. The ethnoventionist approach helps to overcome a lack of attention to management in current ethnographic bodies of knowledge and to deepen existing management approaches to change dynamics. Ethnoventionist approaches can be very useful for intervention‐oriented studies of change processes which require high levels of engagement and which produce high‐quality ethnographic data.


This paper explores a new research approach that has not been discussed previously.



van Marrewijk, A., Veenswijk, M. and Clegg, S. (2010), "Organizing reflexivity in designed change: the ethnoventionist approach", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 212-229.

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