The purpose of this paper is to outline the value of ethnography as a qualitative tool of inquiry when exploring mundane yet complex marketing phenomena such as customer‐oriented learning. The paper illustrates the practical side of using ethnography and shows the kind of results an ethnographic study aimed at conceptual development might yield.
The first ethnographic study was conducted among car salespersons and service advisors in a car retailing company. The second study was conducted among frontline contact persons in a procurement company.
The paper shows that ethnography is a suitable and fruitful research approach for accessing and understanding the “mundane” and “complex”. In particular, the paper emphasises the importance of: establishing trust and social bonds with informants; systematic, on‐going analysis; being a complete outsider; and preparing for the aftermath of a study. With regard to customer‐oriented learning, the study finds that it is a multidimensional phenomenon involving: direct and indirect learning; learning tools; learning context; and professional identity.
In terms of methodology this paper contributes with a detailed, practical description of the different phases of an ethnographic study; from accessing the research setting to the data‐analysis and the practical implications of the study. In terms of theory, the paper contributes by developing a holistic framework of customer‐oriented learning.
Wägar, K. (2012), "Exploring the mundane and complex: The use of ethnography for studying customer‐oriented learning", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 165-187. https://doi.org/10.1108/13522751211215886Download as .RIS
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