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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Roderick A.W. Rhodes and Anne Tiernan

The purpose of this paper is to outline the current state of political and administrative ethnography in political science and public administration before suggesting that focus…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to outline the current state of political and administrative ethnography in political science and public administration before suggesting that focus groups are a useful tool in the study of governing elites. They provide an alternative way of “being there” when the rules about secrecy and access prevent participant observation. Briefly, it describes the job of Prime Ministers’ Chiefs of Staff before explaining the research design, the preparations for the focus group sessions, and the strategies used to manage the dynamics of a diverse group that included former political enemies and factional rivals.

Design/methodology/approach

It outlines the approach to analysis and interpretation before reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of focus groups for research into political and administrative elites.

Findings

It concludes that focus groups are a valuable tool for making tacit knowledge explicit, especially when all participants work in a shared governmental tradition.

Originality/value

It is the first project to use focus groups to study the political elites of Westminster systems, let alone Australian government.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Karen Boll and Roderick A.W. Rhodes

3485

Abstract

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

John Boswell and Jack Corbett

Turning laborious ethnographic research into stylized argumentative prose for academic consumption is a painstaking craft. The purpose of this paper is to revisit this perennial…

Abstract

Purpose

Turning laborious ethnographic research into stylized argumentative prose for academic consumption is a painstaking craft. The purpose of this paper is to revisit this perennial issue, and extend a claim the authors have made elsewhere about the inevitably impressionistic, rather than the oft-claimed “systematic”, nature of this task.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors draw and reflect on their own experiences of conducting and navigating across political science, ethnography and interpretation in order to justify and uphold the benefits of impressionism.

Findings

The authors argue that the impressionistic account of writing up fieldwork has important implications for these diverse disciplinary terrains.

Originality/value

The authors develop an argument as to how and why an appreciation of this craft’s impressionistic nature can affect how the authors go about creating, evaluating and ultimately thinking about ethnographic research in foreign disciplines like political science.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Anja Svejgaard Pors

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of e-government reforms on street-level bureaucrats’ professionalism and relation to citizens, thus demonstrating how the…

1975

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of e-government reforms on street-level bureaucrats’ professionalism and relation to citizens, thus demonstrating how the bureaucratic encounter unfolds in the digital era.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an ethnographic study of frontline work at a citizen service centre in a Danish municipality, and draws on empirical material generated through observations, field notes, interviews and policy documents.

Findings

The paper shows that e-government changes the mode of professionalism in citizen service from service to support. An ethnographic account of how digital reforms are implemented in practice shows how street-level bureaucrat’s classic tasks such as specialized casework are being reconfigured into educational tasks that promote the idea of “becoming digital”. In the paper, the author argues that the work of “becoming digital” in client processing entails two interconnected changes in frontline agents’ practice: de-specialization of the task and intensified informality in relation to citizens. As a result, the frontline agent works as an explorative generalist whose professional skills and personal competencies are blurred.

Originality/value

The study contributes to ethnographic research in public administration by combining two separate subfields, e-government and street-level bureaucracy, to discern recent transformations in public service delivery. In the digital era, tasks, control and equality are distributed in ways that call for symmetrical and relational approaches to studying street-level bureaucracy. The argument goes beyond technological or social determinism to find a fruitful intermediary position pointing at technological change as having both constraining and enabling effects.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Sanne Frandsen

The purpose of this paper is to examine what we can learn from an autoethnographical approach about public administration. In this context it presents and discusses the advantages…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine what we can learn from an autoethnographical approach about public administration. In this context it presents and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of autoethnography.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a case study of E-rail, a European national rail service subject to extensive negative press coverage. The autoethnographic accounts, based on interviews, observations, phone calls, e-mails, and other informal interactions with the organizational members, highlight the researcher’s entry to and exit of the organization.

Findings

The paper mobilizes fieldwork access negotiation and trust building with participants as empirical material in its own right, arguing that challenges involving “being in the field” should be explored to provide new types of knowledge about the organizational phenomenon under study – in this case the rise of organizational paranoia.

Originality/value

This paper uses autoethnography, which is rare in public administration studies, and discusses the distinct features of autoethnography as an ethnographic approach to public organizations. It argues that autoethnographic accounts of fieldwork relationship highlight and challenge the boundaries of the kind of research questions we might ask – and the kind of answers we might provide – about public administration.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Karen Boll

– The purpose of this paper is to analyse everyday reasoning in public administration. This is done by focusing on front line tax inspectors’ decisions about tax evasion.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse everyday reasoning in public administration. This is done by focusing on front line tax inspectors’ decisions about tax evasion.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents ethnography of bureaucracy and field audits. The material stems from fieldwork conducted in the Central Customs and Tax Administration.

Findings

The paper shows that the tax inspectors reason about tax evasion in a casuistic manner. They pay attention to similar cases and to particular circumstances of the individual cases. In deciding on tax evasion, the inspectors do not just administer the laws; they also enact a policy of fair-mindedness. Doing this they are constrained by time and man-powers, but also enabled by various organizational devices.

Research limitations/implications

The tax inspectors that the author followed were carefully chosen and acted in accordance with procedures. The ethnography should be understood in relation to this set-up.

Originality/value

The originality of the paper is that it shows that ethnography can open the territory of everyday reasoning in public administration. Also, it shows the discretionary room that any front line tax inspector navigates in. This is significant as revenue collection often is described as formal and dominated by a legal steering in which rules are univocal.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Nina Holm Vohnsen

The purpose of this paper is to explore and problematizes one of the oft-cited reasons why the implementation of public policy and other development initiatives goes wrong …

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore and problematizes one of the oft-cited reasons why the implementation of public policy and other development initiatives goes wrong – namely that there is a mismatch or antagonistic relationship between street-level worker’s decisions and priorities on the one hand and on the other hand the policy-makers’ or administrators’ directives and priorities.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper builds on seven months of ethnographic fieldwork set in a Danish municipal unit which administered the sickness benefit legislation.

Findings

Through the reading of an ethnographic example of implementation of labour market policy this paper suggests that when policy invariably is distorted at the administrative level it is not necessarily due to lack of will among street-level workers to comply with legislation or centrally devised directives but rather because: in practice, planning and implementation are concurrent processes that continuously feed into each other; and that the concerns and the “local knowledge and practice” that guide planning-implementation do not belong to individual people but are dynamic perspectives that individual people might take up in certain situations.

Originality/value

This challenges conventional descriptions of street-level workers as a distinct group of people with distinctive concerns and attitudes to their work. The paper suggests instead the metaphor “vector of concern” to capture the way street-level workers’ changes of perspectives might cause interventions to disintegrate and evolve in potentially conflicting directions.

Details

Journal of Organizational Ethnography, vol. 4 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6749

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 14 December 2018

Catherine Palmer

To outline the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in debates about sport, alcohol, and addiction. It appears that a growing number of sportspeople suffer from addiction to…

Abstract

Purpose

To outline the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in debates about sport, alcohol, and addiction. It appears that a growing number of sportspeople suffer from addiction to alcohol and other drugs while at the same time alcohol use is widely sanctioned and celebrated in sport. The high-profile falls from grace are a public display of a more insidious, problematic relationship to drugs and alcohol in sport, yet cultural change is often difficult given long standing associations between sport and alcohol.

Design/Method/Approach

In the first part of the chapter, the key themes in the drugs, alcohol, and sport debate (notably health and ethics) are discussed. In the second part, some of the relationships between sport and alcohol, such as sponsorship and the cultural sanctioning of particular forms of drinking and masculine identities are examined. In the third, the issues of drug and alcohol addiction and recovery, and the implications for sport and sporting identities are discussed.

Findings

The chapter reveals the tensions that underpin the social contexts of drug and alcohol use and misuse in sport. The chapter suggests that a recalibration of popular understandings of masculinity in sport may provide a safe space through which to share battles with alcohol and addiction.

Research Limitations/Implications

Discussion of the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in the relationships between sport and alcohol have important implications for a discussion and analysis of addiction and alcohol in sport, and for sport and social policy, health promotion, and social care more broadly.

Details

Sport, Mental Illness, and Sociology
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-469-1

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 September 1960

HAS the librarian responsibility for what is in the books he provides for the use of readers; if so, docs he, indeed can he, recognize it or do anything useful about it? We do not…

Abstract

HAS the librarian responsibility for what is in the books he provides for the use of readers; if so, docs he, indeed can he, recognize it or do anything useful about it? We do not mean, as the most important thing, his fear, reasonable or otherwise, of books which have too much sexuality. It is a major problem upon which no authoritative statement for our guidance has ever been made except perhaps the police inhibitions and the Roman Catholic indexes in the subject just mentioned. That we can dispose of in the favourite saying of Stanley Jast “The Bovril of today is the Mellin's Food of tomorrow”, and refer to the general shift of public opinion towards toleration, or a more easy regard for sex in literature. To deny sex is to deny life. The problem is one that does not affect any but public adult libraries, where the reader need not read any book which offends his code but is not privileged to interfere with the choice of others who alone can be responsible for their own reading. Thus the argument goes, but public men are concerned for the unlettered reader who chooses a book in innocence. These can cause much trouble. One of the annual reports before us puts another difficult angle of the question: the readers who invariably demand these books at the public expense and question the librarian's assumption that he can refuse to purchase them. The schoolgirl is also a great concern to many: she is likely to know as much, if she is damaged by any book, as does her gratuitous protector. It would have been unthinkable twenty years ago for a national newspaper to publish the substance of a recent teacher's assertion that after an address on the facts of life to a form of senior girls, one of the girls told her it was interesting but had come too late: all the girls in her form had experienced sex and “would be thought odd if they had not.” This seems an extreme case but it has a definite warning that the trouble does not originate in the library.

Details

New Library World, vol. 62 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Article
Publication date: 1 January 1985

Since the first Volume of this Bibliography there has been an explosion of literature in all the main areas of business. The researcher and librarian have to be able to uncover…

16649

Abstract

Since the first Volume of this Bibliography there has been an explosion of literature in all the main areas of business. The researcher and librarian have to be able to uncover specific articles devoted to certain topics. This Bibliography is designed to help. Volume III, in addition to the annotated list of articles as the two previous volumes, contains further features to help the reader. Each entry within has been indexed according to the Fifth Edition of the SCIMP/SCAMP Thesaurus and thus provides a full subject index to facilitate rapid information retrieval. Each article has its own unique number and this is used in both the subject and author index. The first Volume of the Bibliography covered seven journals published by MCB University Press. This Volume now indexes 25 journals, indicating the greater depth, coverage and expansion of the subject areas concerned.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

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