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Workshop: The Business of Ethnography, Copenhagen, June 12-13

Workshop: The Business of Ethnography and the Ethnography of Business
Date: June 12 and 13, 2012
Place: Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark

Over the years, sporadic attempts have been made to use ethnographic methods in the study of business organizations and practices of all kinds. Such attempts have begun to coalesce in recent years to create a field of ‘business’ anthropology, supported by two recently-launched journals (the Journal of Business Anthropology and the International Journal of Business Anthropology). The term ‘business anthropology’, however, is by no means fixed, as we may see in the continued usage of parallel terms like ‘applied’, ‘organizational’, ‘corporate’, and ‘design’ anthropology, as well as other business-related sub-divisions of the discipline.

What unites them all is their espoused methodology of ethnography, although it may well be the case that there are more people writing about ethnography, than actually doing it.

Given that qualitative research of any kind is often equated with ‘ethnographic’ research, and that, strictly speaking, ‘ethnography’ is about the writing up, rather than the gathering, of research data, we would like to suggest here that we think of ethnography as:
(1) a type of research method (fieldwork, participant-observation, and so on);
(2) an accompanying frame of mind or ‘intellectual paradigm’; and
(3) a way of writing.This workshop invites you as participants to reflect upon business ethnography in the light of these conceptions, and to ask three questions of your fieldwork data.

1.      Firstly, what do you consider to be the salient features of ‘business ethnography’ as a method? In this respect, were the methods that you used to obtain your research data any different from those used by mainstream anthropologists (and some qualitative sociologists) and/or scholars in organizational behavior and management studies? Have you tried out joint or team fieldwork, with what results?

2.      Secondly, what kinds of observations and analyses do you think your ethnographic methods have led to and supported, that other methodologies would not have done? In other words, what makes business ethnography special as a frame of mind?

3.      Thirdly, what are the challenges you face in the writing up of your ethnographic data for presentation at workshops and conferences, or as submissions to journals?

The workshop is intended for a limited number of participants. Interested scholars are invited to submit abstracts to the convenors, Christina Garsten and Brian Moeran, by April 15, 2012.
Brian Moeran (bdm.ikl@cbs.dk)
Christina
Garsten (christina.garsten@score.su.se)

 

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