To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

The significance of unforeseen events in organisational ethnographic inquiry

Trevor Green (University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Stephen Swailes (University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Janet Handley (University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 9 October 2017



The purpose of this paper is to emphasise the importance for the practicing ethnographer of responding to unforeseen events that occur during periods of data collection.


An analysis of four unforeseen events occurring during prolonged periods of study amongst workplace cleaners is undertaken and the changes in researcher acceptance resulting from the outcomes of these events are reported.


This paper shows how awareness of the possible incidence of unforeseen events and the ability to carefully yet spontaneously manage the ethnographer’s reaction to them can substantially influence the degree of acceptance achieved by the observer within the group under study.


Though the need for an ethnographer to get close to the participants in a study is well documented, detailed examples as described in this paper are rare. The documentation of the nature and effects of such episodes and how they unfold serve to enhance the credibility of the research.



Green, T., Swailes, S. and Handley, J. (2017), "The significance of unforeseen events in organisational ethnographic inquiry", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 190-203.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited