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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2015

Anne-Laure Fayard and John Van Maanen

The purpose of this paper is to describe and reflect on the experience as corporate ethnographers working in (and for) a large, multinational company with a remit to study…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe and reflect on the experience as corporate ethnographers working in (and for) a large, multinational company with a remit to study and articulate “the culture of the firm.”

Design/methodology/approach

The research relied heavily on interviews and some (participant) observation carried out periodically – in North America, Europe and Asia – over an eight-year period.

Findings

The authors discuss how the studies were produced, received, and occasionally acted on in the firm and the realization over time of the performativity of the work as both expressive and constitutive of firm’s culture.

Research limitations/implications

The increasing entanglement in the organization raises questions regarding emic and etic perspectives and the possibility (or impossibility) of “enduring detachment” or “going native” and the associated, often unintended consequences of being both outsiders and insiders.

Practical implications

The authors start with the premise that ethnography is about producing a written text and conclude by arguing that ethnography is not fully realized until the writing is read.

Social implications

The ethnographic reports, when read by those in the company, made visible a version of Trifecta culture that was interpreted, framed and otherwise responded to in multiple ways by members of the organization.

Originality/value

Corporate ethnography is a growing pursuit undertaken by those inside and outside firms. This paper focusses on how and in what ways corporate ethnography sponsored by and written for those in the company shifts the positioning of the ethnographer in the field, the kinds of texts they produce, and the meanings that readers take away from such texts.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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Article
Publication date: 3 February 2020

Mette Marie Vad Karsten

Starting from the challenges and implications of doing organizational ethnography within the organization which the researcher is also employed by, the purpose of this…

Abstract

Purpose

Starting from the challenges and implications of doing organizational ethnography within the organization which the researcher is also employed by, the purpose of this paper is to reflect upon the idea of “passing the test” in relation to such ethnographic endeavor. The paper discusses how “collaboration” on projects and in product development processes with colleagues/informants is a precondition for passing “tests,” which unfolded as subtle, verbalized demands made by colleagues/informants during fieldwork.

Design/methodology/approach

Longitudinal anthropological fieldwork was carried out as part of an industrial PhD project, which investigates digitization as organizational, professional and social practices in the Danish construction industry. The fieldwork lasted on/off from April 2017 to December 2018. Various forms of participant observation and collaborative ethnographic methods were used during fieldwork.

Findings

The paper investigates how these “tests” focused on two key aspects: the relevance of anthropology in a profit-oriented, technical corporate organization; and the application of anthropological theories and ethnographic methodologies for the benefit of product development, usability studies and organizational change. It is argued that the tests were passed through collaborative engagements, where the author oscillated between positions as collegial insider and outside researcher for the dual benefit of both commercial interests and research interests.

Originality/value

The paper suggests that daring to collaborate and co-create products (as something different than texts) during organizational fieldwork for the benefit of both corporate and ethnographic interests offers strong possibilities for keeping ethnography relevant and applicable, passing tests in organizational settings and advancing ethnography’s impact in the world.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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Abstract

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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Article
Publication date: 20 April 2012

Gillian Evans

The purpose of this paper is to provide an anthropological viewpoint on the debate about the uses and abuses of the method of ethnography in the field of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an anthropological viewpoint on the debate about the uses and abuses of the method of ethnography in the field of commercially‐motivated research.

Design/methodology/approach

The objective of the paper is to explore the method of ethnography from an anthropological perspective, focusing specifically on the field research method of participant observation. This is in order to examine what of value is being lost as ethnography transforms into a different kind of method outside of the academy.

Findings

The paper proposes further critical debate between academics and practitioners of ethnography in and outside the academy. It suggests that the Journal of Organisational Ethnography is an ideal location for this debate to take place. The paper argues that “observation research” might be a more accurate term to describe research that does not combine participant observation proper with a commitment to critical enquiry into the conditions of possibility of commercial and governmental organisations under the specific political and economic conditions of capitalism.

Originality/value

The originality of the paper is the imagination of what a crash‐course in ethnography would need to consist of, both for would‐be ethnographers to gain a sense of the specific value of the method and for students of anthropology to appreciate that doing ethnography is not a mystical rite of passage or vague process of “deep hanging out”, but rather a methodological technique that relies on a theory of learning, which must be elaborated in order to understand how to do ethnography well.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2018

Signe Bruskin

The purpose of this paper is to explore the fluidity of the fieldwork roles “insider” and “outsider.” The paper aims to move the discussion of insiders from an a priori…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the fluidity of the fieldwork roles “insider” and “outsider.” The paper aims to move the discussion of insiders from an a priori categorized status and contribute to the literary insider–outsider debate by unfolding the micro process of how the role of an insider is shaped in situ. Grounded in empirical examples, the paper illustrates how the researcher’s role is shaped through interactions with organizational members and by context.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an ethnographic study in an IT department of a Nordic bank and draws on empirical material generated through a combination of data: shadowing, interviews, observations and documents. Excerpts from fieldnotes are included to invite the reader into “the scenes” played out in the field and are analyzed in order to illustrate the shaping of roles in situ.

Findings

The study finds that, independent of the researcher’s role as sponsored by the organization, the interactions with organizational members and context determine whether the researcher is assigned a role as insider or outsider, or even both within the same context.

Originality/value

The paper contributes with a new discussion of how the roles of insiders and outsiders are fluid by discussing the shaping of the roles in situ. By drawing on relational identity theories, the paper illustrates how interactions and context influence the researcher’s role, grounded in empirical examples. In addition, the paper discusses what the assigned roles enable and constrain for the ethnographer in that particular situation.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

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Article
Publication date: 11 September 2007

Darrell Rigby and Barbara Bilodeau

The purpose of this article is to survey and analyze current patterns of use in corporate settings of strategic management tools and techniques. The authors interview

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to survey and analyze current patterns of use in corporate settings of strategic management tools and techniques. The authors interview hundreds of corporate leaders to ascertain which tools executives say they find most effective.

Design/methodology/approach

In 1993, Bain & Company launched a multiyear research project to get the facts about management tool use. Over 12 years Bain assembled a global database of more than 7,000 respondents, including 960 this year. They supplement the survey with follow‐up interviews to probe the specifics of tool use in individual companies.

Findings

Companies are employing more tools, but they appear to be finding them less effective. Usage increased, yet the average overall satisfaction rating dropped. Another finding was that successful use of tools – and executives' willingness to use them – is influenced by the ability to measure and communicate resulting benefits.

Research limitations/implications

This survey formerly was done annually and now is taken every other year.

Practical implications

Managers who promote tool fads undermine employees' confidence that they can create the change that is needed. Executives are better served by championing realistic strategic directions – and viewing the specific tools they use to get there as subordinate to the strategy.

Originality/value

Without satisfaction and usage data from companies that have adopted management tools, choosing and using them becomes a risky and potentially expensive gamble.

Details

Strategy & Leadership, vol. 35 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1087-8572

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Article
Publication date: 9 October 2019

Signe Bruskin

The purpose of this paper is to study the phenomenon of organizational change failure through an emic approach. Grounded in empirical examples, the paper unfolds why the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study the phenomenon of organizational change failure through an emic approach. Grounded in empirical examples, the paper unfolds why the phenomenon seems to be missing from the literature of the becoming view (e.g. Tsoukas and Chia, 2002).

Design/methodology/approach

Inspired by the methodological strategy of “studying through,” organizational changes are followed through space and time within the setting of a Nordic bank, from where the empirical data have been collected via longitudinal study. The empirical data are generated through a combination of methods: shadowing, interviews, in situ observations and desk research in order to capture the ever-changing phenomenon of organizational change.

Findings

The paper finds that organizational changes drift away, either by slipping into the everyday practices of the organization, or by drifting away in time when history is reinterpreted. The paper concludes that organizational change failures suffer the same fate as organizational changes more generally and drift away in space and time.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the becoming view by illustrating how methodologically an ever-changing phenomenon such as organizational change can be studied. Further, it contributes to the field of organizational change failure by unpacking the fate of organizational change failure when change is natural and slippery in nature. The paper includes reflections on what the consequences might be for praxis.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

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Article
Publication date: 31 July 2009

Claudia Mendez

The purpose of this paper is to explore the ways in which anthropological research, specifically ethnography, can be useful in an integrated marketing communication (IMC) approach.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the ways in which anthropological research, specifically ethnography, can be useful in an integrated marketing communication (IMC) approach.

Design/methodology/approach

Starting from a brief description of the different ways in which the discipline of anthropology has studied consumption, the paper turns to review how it can serve effectively to understand both the corporate as well as the consumer culture.

Findings

The role that the anthropological discipline plays in IMC strategies is presented, along with some examples of how different firms have used it.

Originality/value

This paper is an approach to understanding ethnography, not only as a market research methodology, but also as a corporate tool.

Details

Marketing Intelligence & Planning, vol. 27 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-4503

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 March 2011

Gabriela Coronado and Wayne Fallon

Within the context of a broader project that analysed CSR practices, this paper seeks to explain a methodological approach to web‐based research that the authors call…

Abstract

Purpose

Within the context of a broader project that analysed CSR practices, this paper seeks to explain a methodological approach to web‐based research that the authors call “hypertext ethnography”. This approach aims to enable the paper to focus on the relations between three publicly listed corporations in Australia and the recipients of a selection of their CSR programs.

Design/methodology/approach

Informed by ethnographic principles, hypertext ethnography provided the research protocols and analytical frame that were used to deconstruct the meanings in web texts that represented the connections between the corporations and their CSR stakeholders.

Findings

The corporations and the stakeholders articulated their perspectives on CSR in affirmative ways, apparently to maintain their positive benefactor‐recipient relations. While these discourses held the potential to mask more complex tensions in their relationships, the web was found to provide a rich hypertextual story that had a vastly broader scope than the self‐contained corporate and stakeholder agendas.

Research limitations/implications

The research approach presented here provides a useful first approximation to the study of CSR, through self representations, and offers a rigorous critical understanding of the practice of CSR. The approach can achieve much with only limited resources, but it could be developed through on‐site ethnographic research.

Practical implications

Because image‐conscious corporations are often reluctant to participate in CSR research, the unobtrusive approach of hypertext ethnography can provide access to important data for the researcher. This is especially significant in the case of critical research, and when the characteristics of the CSR contributions or stakeholder relations are to be investigated.

Originality/value

This paper offers a new way for approaching the study of CSR, by taking advantage of rich sources of data that are publicly available. Treating the web texts as primary data and critically analysing them following rigorous research protocols, enable new opportunities for understanding the public representations of CSR.

Details

Social Responsibility Journal, vol. 7 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-1117

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Article
Publication date: 8 June 2015

Shawn D. Long, Sharon Doerer and Oscar J. Stewart

Research examining organizational diversity has largely ignored the role corporate web sites play in establishing the tone for diversity in organizations. Serving as…

Abstract

Purpose

Research examining organizational diversity has largely ignored the role corporate web sites play in establishing the tone for diversity in organizations. Serving as “electronic storefronts,” corporate web sites are typically the first point of contact individuals have with an organization. The purpose of this paper is to centralize communication as a critical tool in understanding the strategies corporations use to communicate their diversity philosophy, practices and policies. This virtual ethnographic study examines corporate web sites (n=100) across industries and sectors to capture the strategies organizations use to strategically communicate diversity to a variety of stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach

Taking a virtual ethnographic, this study examines 100 corporate web sites across industries to capture the methods organizations employ to strategically communicate diversity in their respective organization.

Findings

Results from this ethnographic study reveal that organizations typically use three strategies in their diversity messages: impression management, persuasion and strategic ambiguity. Strategic ambiguity and the persuasive use of selling, telling and framing their diversity message are ubiquitous in corporate diversity communication. The use of these strategies may have a profound impact on how diversity is perceived within organizations. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Originality/value

This is one of the first social science/humanistic studies to examine diversity messages on corporate web sites and advances a conceptual framework for electronic diversity communication. Additionally, this project employs a virtual ethnographic approach, a novel, yet contemporary, method.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 10 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

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