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Article
Publication date: 14 July 2020

Charlotta Niemistö, Jeff Hearn, Mira Karjalainen and Annamari Tuori

Privilege is often silent, invisible and not made explicit, and silence is a key question for theorizing on organizations. This paper examines interrelations between…

Abstract

Purpose

Privilege is often silent, invisible and not made explicit, and silence is a key question for theorizing on organizations. This paper examines interrelations between privilege and silence for relatively privileged professionals in high-intensity knowledge businesses (KIBs).

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on 112 interviews in two rounds of interviews using the collaborative interactive action research method. The analysis focuses on processes of recruitment, careers and negotiation of boundaries between work and nonwork in these KIBs. The authors study how relative privilege within social inequalities connects with silences in multiple ways, and how the invisibility of privilege operates at different levels: individual identities and interpersonal actions of privilege (micro), as organizational level phenomena (meso) or as societally constructed (macro).

Findings

At each level, privilege is reproduced in part through silence. The authors also examine how processes connecting silence, privilege and social inequalities operate differently in relation to both disadvantage and the disadvantaged, and privilege and the privileged.

Originality/value

This study is relevant for organization studies, especially in the kinds of “multi-privileged” contexts where inequalities, disadvantages and subordination may remain hidden and silenced, and, thus, are continuously reproduced.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 14 September 2015

Mira Karjalainen, Charlotta Niemistö and Jeff Hearn

The purpose of this paper is to unpack the question of research access(es), especially ethnographic access, seen as an intrinsic part of research projects that should be…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to unpack the question of research access(es), especially ethnographic access, seen as an intrinsic part of research projects that should be scrutinized carefully to gain a deeper understanding of the field. Two main questions are asked: what does the process of accessing knowledge-intensive businesses (KIBs), specifically large international consultancies (LICs), tell us about access more generally? And what does accessing KIBs, specifically LICs, tell us about these organizations more generally?

Design/methodology/approach

The paper builds on discussions of research access issues in organizational ethnography, in part when setting out to employ shadowing as a method of inquiry. It focuses on the challenges of gaining access to KIBs, where confidentiality is central to the work. The empirical focus is a study of LICs from where the data for this paper is drawn.

Findings

To answer the two questions, the paper provides an analysis of: accesses in the plural; ongoing processes of accessing; multiple levels of access and contradictory negotiations; research accesses, including access difficulties, as constitutive of research itself; and research accesses as dependent on and giving data on the organizations in question. Building on literatures on ethnographic access and empirical data gained while negotiating access to LICs, this paper contributes to prior research on access, focusing on LICs as an arena for organizational ethnography, whose particular character has to be taken into account when conducting research.

Originality/value

This paper examines the processes of accessing, a neglected but important part of research: the phase(s) of negotiating and gaining access to the field, and the need to fully absorb these phases into the research process as a whole. Access as such multi-level ongoing processes is often neglected, however, in both academic writing and importantly in doctoral education curricula. Therefore, the paper offers guidelines for use in research training.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

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