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.
Chapter 7: From Participant Observation to Observant Participation
From Participant Observation to Observant Participation
Nowadays, managers and marketers make much of the word ‘organizational ethnography’. But ethnography has long been the defining methodology of the discipline of anthropology in which I myself specialize. How do traditional understandings of ethnographic fieldwork as practised by anthropologists fit in with what is termed ‘organizational ethnography’? Is fieldwork in organizations (by which I am referring primarily to corporations and other group forms associated with contemporary capitalism, but also to agencies, associations, institutions, hospitals, schools, city halls, and so on) any different from fieldwork among slash and burn cultivators in highland Burma, miners in rural South America, or pastoral cattle herders in the Upper Nile? Does each involve the same sense of‘being there’?