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Organizational Ethnography
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Organizational Ethnography
Studying the Complexity of Everyday Life

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© 2009 | 304 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Electronic Inspection Copy available for instructors here

Just as newspapers do not, typically, engage with the ordinary experiences of people's daily lives, so organizational studies has also tended largely to ignore the humdrum, everyday experiences of people working in organizations. However, ethnographic approaches provide in-depth and up-close understandings of how the 'everyday-ness' of work is organized and how, in turn, work itself organizes people and the societies they inhabit.

 

Organizational Ethnography brings contributions from leading scholars in organizational studies that serve to unpack an ethnographic perspective on organizations and organizational research. The authors explore the particular problems faced by organizational ethnographers, including:

 

- questions of gaining access to research sites within organizations;

- the many styles of writing organizational ethnography;

- the role of friendship relations in the field;

- problems of distance and closeness;

- the doing of at-home ethnography;

- ethical issues;

- standards for evaluating ethnographic work.

 

This book is a vital resource for organizational scholars and students 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.

Sierk Ybema, Dvora Yanow, Harry Wels and Frans Kamsteeg
Studying Everyday Organizational Life
 
PART ONE: ETHNOGRAPHIC DOING AND WRITING
Kees van der Waal
Getting Going: Organizing Ethnographic Fieldwork
Michael Humphreys and Tony Watson
Ethnographic Practices: From 'Writing-up Ethnographic Research' to 'Writing Ethnography'
Peregrine Schwartz-Shea and Dvora Yanow
Reading and Writing as Method: In Search of Trustworthy Texts
Simon Down and Michael Hughes
When the 'Subject' and the 'Researcher' Speak Together: Co-producing Organizational Ethnography
 
PART TWO: FAMILIARITY AND 'STRANGER-NESS'
Sierk Ybema and Frans Kamsteeg
Making the Familiar Strange: A Case for Disengaged Organizational Ethnography
Davide Nicolini
Zooming In & Zooming Out: A Package of Method and Theory to Study Work Practices
Brian Moeran
From Participant Observation to Observant Participation
Mats Alvesson
At-home Ethnography: Struggling with Closeness and Closure
 
PART THREE: RESEARCHER-RESEARCHED RELATIONSHIPS
Gary Alan Fine and David Shulman
Lies from the Field: Ethical Issues in Organizational Ethnography
Nic Beech, Paul Hibbert, Robert MacIntosh and Peter McInnes
'But I Thought We Were Friends?' Life Cycles and Research Relationships
Chris Sykes and Lesley Treleaven
Critical Action Research and Organizational Ethnography
Halleh Ghorashi and Harry Wels
Beyond Complicity: A Plea for Engaged Ethnography
 
Annotated Bibliography
Dvora Yanow and Karin Geuijen
Defining 'Organizational Ethnography': Selection Criteria
Karin Geuijen
Bibliography

This timely collection constitutes essential reading for all organizational ethnographers interested in the ways in which their discipline is developing. Although it will primarily be used for reference on the basis of individual chapters, this is a well crafted text which maintains a strong narrative throughout
Organization Journal


Whether one's background is in ethnography or organizations research, this volume is an excellent place to begin. With modest aims, it offers advice, guides, stories, and cautionary tales to which both students and experienced professionals can relate. Experienced researchers may find this book to be a useful teaching tool and occasional reference work. Highly recommended at all levels and to libraries
CHOICE Magazine


The volume offers a fine introduction to interdisciplinary research...the book is of tremendous value precisely because of its reformulation of classic and perennial issues and problems of ethnography in a new setting...This is more than enough reason to assign the book for both undergraduate and graduate courses
Open Anthropology Cooperative


The relationship between ethnography and the study of organizational settings is not an intuitive one, in that organizational ethnography is ‘a relatively new term’...The collection of essays contained in the book is successful in explaining what links the two, and why an ethnographic perspective on organizations, by engaging with the everyday experiences of people, may be a fruitful starting point for understanding work...Competent, informed and detailed
Work, Employment and Society


The editors have compiled a thought-provoking look at this method of research...The writing is vivid, engagingand humorous in places, using organizational ethnography itself as a means to illuminate the subject...Organizational Ethnography is an enjoyable read and an effective resource. It is helpful for researchers, students and practitioners in analyzing the culture of organizations
Journal of Occupational Science



Adopted for a course at the Copenhagen Business School.

Dr Ginger Grant
Faculty of Business, Sheridan Clg Bookstore
December 18, 2013

Highly useful for Masters of Research and DBA students undertaking organisational ethnographies

Dr Russell Warhurst
Business School, Chester University
January 22, 2010

thought provoking book

Mr David Higgins
Management , Huddersfield University
December 22, 2009

Like ethnography, this book is a rich resource that includes many war stories and impressions from the field about doing qualitative research in organizations. It is a collection of short essays from many leading scholars and highly acclaimed researchers.

Professor Michel Avital
Management , University of Amsterdam
November 12, 2009

Some good case studies in this book. Useful for students to see how organisations work and how to find out what actually happens inside them.

Dr Grant Coates
Sociology , Roehampton University
November 7, 2009

I will recommend the book to those of my students who are preparing for fieldwork in formal organizations.

As for general comment, I would say it is a very welcome book (in the Netherlands so many "organizational sociologists" have never set a foot in an actual organization - except their research institute -), and I will make references to it in my class, even probably have students read one chapter from it.

However I think it has two main features that (without being defaults as such) keep me from assigning the entire book as a required reading:
- essays are quite epistemological and retrospective: I would have liked more case studies, in other hand more "organizational ethnographies" in this book. Or, to say it differently, actual ethnographies could be more demonstrative for students who don't know about it.
- on the whole, arguments in the book have a level of generality and ambition that make it a potential replacement for a "general" ethnography book. Since I am satisfied with the one I use (Ethnography: Principles in Practice), i feel it would be redundant to ALSO assign Organizational Ethnography.
So: Recommended.
I will think about it further for next year though (2010-2011).

Professor Sebastien Chauvin
Sociology , University of Amsterdam
September 25, 2009

I really like the book and find it highly useful, both for my own purposes as well as for my students.

Mrs Karen Verduyn
other, Free University, Amsterdam
September 25, 2009

Vary clear book helping the novice researcher step by step

Ms Jill Murphy
Nursing , University of Limerick
September 25, 2009

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Chapter Two


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