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Persuasive encounters: ethnography in the corporation


In corporate settings, ethnographic methods are routinely challenged by managers who confront ethnographers with a set of typical objections that question the validity and effectiveness of ethnographically based findings and recommendations. This paper offers a series of steps towards overcoming this impasse by laying out a set of arguments for legitimizing ethnographic work. We discuss ways of responding to a variety of problematic encounters, involving some relatively quick answers to challenges of that sort, but also acknowledging that the different world views of managers and ethnographers can be reconciled only in a long-term educational effort. In the last analysis, embedding ethnography in corporations is an exercise in culture change that almost always relies on rephrasing questions and reformulating metaphors in order to re-situate our practice.


Jordan, B. ; Dalal, B. Persuasive encounters: ethnography in the corporation. Field Methods. 2006 November 1; 18 (4): 359-381.