Much of the ‘mystery’ of organizational life is hidden in plain sight in individuals' everyday communications and everyday practices. Ethnographic approaches provide in-depth and up-close understandings of how the everyday-ness of work is organized and how work organizes people in everyday organizational life.

Organizational Ethnography brings contributions from leading scholars in organizational studies that help to develop an ethnographic perspective on organizations and organizational research. The authors explore the special problems faced by organizational ethnographers, from questions of gaining access to research sites to various styles of writing ethnography, the role of friendship relations in the field, ethical issues, and standards for evaluating ethnographic work.

This book will be a useful resource for organizational scholars doing or writing ethnography in the fields of business and management, public administration, education, health care, social work, or any related field in which organizations play a role.

Lies from the Field: Ethical Issues in Organizational Ethnography

Lies from the Field: Ethical Issues in Organizational Ethnography

Lies from the field: Ethical issues in organizational ethnography
Gary AlanFine and DavidShulman


Idealized visions of how professionals should work are difficult to reconcile with ethical compromises that are made in practice. In an earlier paper, Fine identified ten moral dilemmas in ethnographic field methods that arise from an inability to comply with ideals (1993). The actions of organizational ethnographers and, as important, how they report those actions, are constrained by their complex working conditions, the demands of academic standards, and accepted textual practices. As a result, presentations of fieldwork in organizational ethnographies may be varnished, and will lead to incomplete accounts of the practical moral dilemmas that are involved in, and perhaps unique to, completing an organizational ...

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