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Book part
Publication date: 22 October 2016

Meta Gorup

Shadowing is a form of non-participant observation that entails following and observing research participants as they go about their everyday business. It offers a…

Abstract

Shadowing is a form of non-participant observation that entails following and observing research participants as they go about their everyday business. It offers a possibility to gain in-depth insights into individuals’ actions, roles, and personalities, as well as their social relations and environments. However, shadowing remains – as do other observational and ethnographic methods – largely unfamiliar within the field of higher education research. As a result, a methodological – and, consequently, knowledge – gap has formed: while document, policy, survey, and interview analyses offer insights into how things should be done or are said to be done, few studies offer an understanding of how things are actually done. Based on my experience of shadowing heads of departments at an English university, I discuss the strengths of the method and warn about the issues one has to carefully navigate when conducting shadowing, with a particular focus on carrying out such research in higher education environments. The chapter advocates for a wider use of shadowing among higher education researchers, concluding that our understanding of higher education dynamics can benefit most from this method when it is combined with other data collection techniques.

Details

Theory and Method in Higher Education Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-895-0

Article
Publication date: 23 August 2011

Rebecca Gill

The purpose of this paper is to explore the methodological practice of shadowing and its implications for ethnographic fieldwork. Furthermore, the paper challenges the…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the methodological practice of shadowing and its implications for ethnographic fieldwork. Furthermore, the paper challenges the label of “shadowing” and suggests a new label of “spect‐acting.”

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based in a feminist and interpretive‐qualitative approach to methods, and uses the author's experience with shadowing as a case study. The author argues that fieldwork is always intersubjective and as such, the research site emerges out of the co‐construction of the relationship between researcher and participant.

Findings

The author argues that reflexivity is a required but neglected aspect of shadowing, and that spect‐acting as a new term would require the researcher to take reflexivity more seriously, thereby opening up emancipatory possibilities in the field.

Research limitations/implications

Findings are based on a limited time span of shadowing.

Originality/value

The paper is original in that it imports “spect‐acting” from performance studies into the organizational methods lexicon. The value of the paper is that it provides reflection and discussion of one‐on‐one ethnography, which is a relatively underutilized method in research on organizations and management (but beginning to grow in popularity).

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 6 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 5 September 2016

Brenda Service, Gulay Erin Dalgic and Kate Thornton

The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of a shadowing/mentoring component of a post-graduate programme designed to prepare deputy and assistant principals for…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of a shadowing/mentoring component of a post-graduate programme designed to prepare deputy and assistant principals for the principalship.

Design/methodology/approach

The research design is a qualitative evaluation of the shadowing/mentoring component of a principal preparation programme. The experiences of 13 individual aspiring principals who had taken part in the programme were explored using semi-structured interviews.

Findings

The shadowing/mentoring component of this programme allowed the aspiring principals to gain an understanding of the complexity of a principal’s role by shadowing and being mentored by experienced principals in a range of New Zealand schools. In addition to providing them with a network of effective principals, the experience led the aspiring principals to reflect on their leadership development.

Research limitations/implications

The study drew on a small sample of 27 students enroled in the programme, 13 of whom were included in the data collection process.

Originality/value

This study presents the views of aspiring principals who valued the opportunity to relate theory to practice as part of a post-graduate programme.

Details

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6854

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 March 2014

Ann-Marie Urban and Elizabeth Quinlan

– The purpose of this paper is to share two researcher's experience about the challenges associated with shadowing within the health care context.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to share two researcher's experience about the challenges associated with shadowing within the health care context.

Design/methodology/approach

Institutional ethnography and shadowing.

Findings

Shadowing is increasingly being used as a data collection method, however, before proceeding to use this approach in today's health care environment, the researcher must give thoughtful consideration to the context.

Originality/value

This paper provides a reflexive elaboration of the differences between the insider and outsider perspective when using the shadowing data collection method within health care organizations.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 March 2014

Rebecca Gill, Joshua Barbour and Marleah Dean

The purpose of this paper is to provide practical recommendations for shadowing as a method of organizational study with a focus on the situated processes and practices of…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide practical recommendations for shadowing as a method of organizational study with a focus on the situated processes and practices of shadowing fieldwork.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reflects on the shadowing experiences of three researchers – in a hospital emergency department, nuclear power plants, and entrepreneur workspaces – to generate recommendations by identifying and synthesizing solutions that emerged during the encounters with the challenges and opportunities in shadowing.

Findings

Considering shadowing as an ongoing and emergent research process can be helpful to prepare for particular aspects of shadowing fieldwork. Shadowing presents research challenges that may emerge in the practice of fieldwork, including how to negotiate awkward conversations with participants, what to bring and wear, and how to take notes.

Practical implications

Though the recommendations for shadowing are based on particular experiences and may not generalize to all shadowing engagements, they offer concrete, practical recommendations useful across experience levels. The recommendations should sensitize researchers to the intimate and situational character of shadowing, and offer strategies for coping with the distinctive requirements of shadowing.

Originality/value

By looking across diverse experiences of shadowing, the paper generated guidelines that help to make sense of shadowing processes, manage uncertainty in the field, and build on the emerging work on shadowing. The ten recommendations provide insight into shadowing that are of particular value to graduate students, junior researchers, and those new to shadowing. Moreover, the experienced shadower may find value in the camaraderie of shared experience, the concrete ideas about another's experience of shadowing, and insight in recommendations that capture aspects of fieldwork that they are also exploring.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 March 2014

Bart Johnson

– The purpose of this paper is to explore ethical issues associated with using the shadowing method.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore ethical issues associated with using the shadowing method.

Design/methodology/approach

Ethical issues that arose during a 12-week shadowing study that examined the work activities and practices of Canadian healthcare CEOs are discussed.

Findings

Dividing the ethics process into two phases – those addressed by ethics committees (procedural ethics) and those that revealed themselves in the field (ethics in practice) – issues and relating to sampling, informed consent, researcher roles, objectivity, participant discomforts, the impact of research on participants, confidentiality, and anonymity are investigated. This paper illustrates that while useful, procedural ethics committees are unable to establish ethical practice in and of themselves. In response, it suggests that the concept of reflexivity be applied to ethics to help researchers consider the implications of using the shadowing method, and develop a contingency for possible challenges, before they enter the field.

Practical implications

This paper provides researchers considering using the shadowing method with critical insights into some of the ethical issues associated with the method. A number of questions are posed and a number of suggestions offered as to how ethical practice can be attained in the field. Given practice-based similarities between shadowing and other qualitative methodologies such as participant observation and ethnography, many of the lessons derived from this case study are also pertinent to researchers using other techniques to examine organizational and management phenomenon.

Originality/value

Building on the formal and critical discussion about the shadowing method ignited by McDonald (2005), this paper identifies and discusses ethical issues associated with the shadowing method that have not been examined in either ethics or research methods literature.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 March 2014

Seonaidh McDonald and Barbara Simpson

The purpose of this paper is to provide some context for the special issue and to introduce the collection of invited commentaries and research papers that follow. It also…

1503

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide some context for the special issue and to introduce the collection of invited commentaries and research papers that follow. It also sets out to clarify the contribution that shadowing methods can make to the study of organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

This is done by briefly outlining the ways in which shadowing methods have developed in parallel within a number of disciplines. In order to tackle the question of why this has happened, a grounded approach is taken which centres on data excerpts generated by a shadowing method and three of its closest methodological neighbours: interviews, observation and participant observation. The paper further develops this analysis through the presentation of a set of illustrative analogies which use the idea of the researcher's gaze as a beam of light.

Findings

Similarities and differences between shadowing, interviews, observation and participant observation are identified, which support the articulation of shadowing as a family of following methods.

Research limitations/implications

Taken together, the contributions from the invited commentaries and research papers, suggest a number of ways in which the debate surrounding shadowing research in organizations needs to be developed going forward.

Originality/value

The reflexive, comparative methodological approach taken here provides for the first time a systematic comparison of shadowing in relation to other common qualitative data elicitation methods. Further, the development of a critique of the extant literature on shadowing provides a basis on which to progress the field, both in terms of shadowing practices themselves and writing about them within disciplines and across the research methods literature.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 April 2012

Isabelle Bartkowiak‐Theron and Jennifer Robyn Sappey

The research technique of shadowing is the most in‐depth type of systematic, direct observation in situ of behaviours within a particular organisational or social setting…

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Abstract

Purpose

The research technique of shadowing is the most in‐depth type of systematic, direct observation in situ of behaviours within a particular organisational or social setting, and yet, it crucially lacks documentation and critical analysis. The origins of the under‐documenting, coupled with the mutation of the scientific method of shadowing through its adoption by many industries as a means of on‐the‐job training, have led to a misunderstanding of shadowing as a scientific technique. This is problematic at several levels for academics deeply involved in qualitative methodology. The purpose of this paper is to address, in part, this gap in the literature.

Design/methodology/approach

By defining shadowing, considering the reasons why shadowing has had little critique from social science scholars and then exploring the problems of it as a research technique, particularly within the current context of ethics regimes, the authors wish to proactively help to avoid unintentional yet delicate fieldwork situations, in which misunderstanding may happen due to the lay use of “shadowing” as a passive (non‐obtrusive) observation.

Findings

The authors argue that the research practice of shadowing implies specific systematic techniques and extensive self‐discipline by the researcher. It also caters for a need in data collection that oversteps traditional observation‐and‐interviewing techniques, by adding a new hermeneutical layer to the information gathered. It becomes an essential tool in the evaluation of public policy initiatives and programmes and in the understanding of not only the mechanics, but of the motivations behind actions and behaviours.

Originality/value

This paper addresses part of a gap in the literature and paves the way for more critical analysis of the dynamics that emerge during the shadowing of a research participant.

Details

Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1443-9883

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 17 August 2012

Consuelo Vásquez, Boris H.J.M. Brummans and Carole Groleau

Shadowing is becoming an increasingly popular method in management and organization studies. While several scholars have reflected on this technique, comparatively few…

Abstract

Purpose

Shadowing is becoming an increasingly popular method in management and organization studies. While several scholars have reflected on this technique, comparatively few researchers have explicated the specific practices that constitute this method and discussed their implications for research on processes of organizing. The purpose of this article is to address these issues by offering a conceptual toolbox that defines shadowing in terms of a set of framing practices and provides in‐depth insight into the methodological choices and challenges that organizational shadowers may encounter.

Design/methodology/approach

In this article, the authors explicate the specific framing practices in which researchers engage when taking an intersubjective approach to organizational shadowing. To demonstrate the value of viewing shadowing as framing, the paper grounds the theoretical discussion in actual fieldwork experiences, taken from three different ethnographic studies.

Findings

Based on a systematic and critical analysis of fieldwork experiences, the paper argues that organizational shadowing is constituted by three interrelated framing practices: delineating the object of study; punctuating the process/flow of a given organizing process; and reflecting on the relationship between researcher and the object(s) or person(s) being observed. These analytical constructs highlight specific activities with which shadowers are confronted in the field, namely foregrounding and backgrounding particular aspects in defining a given object of study, trying to keep this object in focus as the fieldwork unfolds, and making decisions about the degree to which the relationship with shadowees should be taken into account in understanding this object.

Originality/value

This article provides an in‐depth reflection on the subtle practices that constitute organizational shadowing. It offers a useful conceptual toolbox for researchers who want to use this method and demonstrates its operational value to help them understand how knowledge construction is the outcome of a coconstructive process that depends on a series of decisions negotiated in ongoing interactions with the actors under study.

Details

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 12 October 2017

Pieterbas Lalleman, Joanne Bouma, Gerhard Smid, Jananee Rasiah and Marieke Schuurmans

The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences and impact of peer-to-peer shadowing as a technique to develop nurse middle managers’ clinical leadership practices.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences and impact of peer-to-peer shadowing as a technique to develop nurse middle managers’ clinical leadership practices.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative descriptive study was conducted to gain insight into the experiences of nurse middle managers using semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed into codes using constant comparison and similar codes were grouped under sub-themes and then into four broader themes.

Findings

Peer-to-peer shadowing facilitates collective reflection-in-action and enhances an “investigate stance” while acting. Nurse middle managers begin to curb the caring disposition that unreflectively urges them to act, to answer the call for help in the here and now, focus on ad hoc “doings”, and make quick judgements. Seeing a shadowee act produces, via a process of social comparison, a behavioural repertoire of postponing reactions and refraining from judging. Balancing the act of stepping in and doing something or just observing as well as giving or withholding feedback are important practices that are difficult to develop.

Originality/value

Peer-to-peer shadowing facilitates curbing the caring disposition, which is essential for clinical leadership development through unlocking a behavioural repertoire that is not easy to reveal because it is, unreflectively, closely knit to the professional background of the nurse managers. Unlike most leadership development programmes, that are quite introspective and detached from context, peer-to-peer shadowing does have the potential to promote collective learning while acting, which is an important process.

Details

Leadership in Health Services, vol. 30 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1879

Keywords

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