Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to argue that the production of past workplace and organizational ethnographies needs to be better understood in their historical context. Design/methodology/approach – A programme of research work on the history of workplace and organizational ethnography is proposed, and a historiographical discussion outlines the purpose, scope and means by which such a project might be realised. Findings – The article highlights why organizational ethnographers should understand the history of their research practice. Originality/value – The paper suggests that a serious attempt is made to create a body of historical knowledge about workplace and organizational ethnography. The value of this would be to deepen the contribution ethnographic research makes to organization and management studies, and ensure that continuity and change in ethnographic research practices are better understood.
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