Traditional structural-functional approaches to organizational change, as well as critics of those approaches, often offer overly structured and rationalised views of how change occurs. This paper attempts to build upon processual studies of change and critiques of overly hegemonic views of managerial control by seeking to capture the complex, emotive and fluid character of organisational 'changing'. In pursuit of this aim, the paper documents these characteristics of change through a personalised ethnography of a micro-incident -- a critical change meeting -- in an Australian steel making plant undergoing cultural change. In conclusion, it is argued that even the more sophisticated studies of the emergent process-like character of organisational change fail to fully capture the ambiguous, ironic, emotional, and uncertain character of events in the 'blender' of change.
This article emerged from a personal need to reconcile the duality of my experience as a person working to raise awareness of equity issues, with that of being a female academic of mixed ethnicity. I discuss the formation of my subject as a developing sociologist, my attraction to the pre-reflexive identities of class, gender and ethnicity, and my struggle with the ambiguous nature of cultural cohesion. I move on to discuss how through conscious ways of knowing it is possible to reflexively act in ways that support substantive change. I argue outsiders-within, i.e. people like myself who grapple with such dual experiences, need not become “hot commodities in social institutions that want the illusion of difference without the difficult effort needed to change power relations” (Collins, 1999:88). Rather, I believe outsiders-within can knowingly achieve small but important substantive changes that lead to future systemic change.
This paper takes up the self-construction of the social roles of Polish IT professionals. We conducted an ethnographic study and observed that many of our interviewees defined their roles by negation and by invoking the internal and often hermetic aspects of their profession. Labeling this practice “holding up the shield,” we trace its archetypical roots. The recurrent use of this practice makes a change in agency in the process of constructing the role possible, to the benefit of the IT professionals.
In recent years, entrepreneurship scholars have begun studying entrepreneurship from social, prosaic, narrative, and discursive dimensions. These ―new movement‖ approaches privilege both business and non-business perspectives. Research in this domain of inquiry seeks to account for the everyday and mundane practices of social actors that can be characterized as entrepreneurial; therefore, prosaic approaches can de-center the narrative of entrepreneurship as comprised solely of a group of elite entrepreneurs. While researchers are encouraged to describe entrepreneurship from a life-story perspective, few scholars have used a self-narrative approach to writing about entrepreneurship. In this article, I use autoethnography to provide a personal account of entrepreneurship. I reflexively interrogate the ways in which I have reproduced, disrupted, benefited from, and been hindered by the dominant enterprise discourses in the United States. A prosaic approach using self-narrative, as demonstrated, is already engaged in a process of restorying entrepreneurship scholarship because it takes into account, among other things, the details of everyday entrepreneurial activity and is receptive to heterodox accounts (even stories that end in entrepreneurial failure).
This article is based on an ongoing organisational ethnography of antiquarian bookshops. It argues that studying the exchange of antiquarian books offers new insight on the phenomenon of gift-giving. First, the general tendency in the literature on gifts (i.e. Bourdieu and Derrida) is how gifts are commoditized, while in the antiquarian bookshop it makes more sense to consider how commodities are transformed into gifts. Second, the literature on gifts argues that actual gifts are either impossible or at least undecidable since they cause the receiver to be indebted to the giver, and a separation in time is necessary either to evaluate the gift or to make it possible. However, in the antiquarian bookshop this situation is different since such a debt is directed towards the book rather than the giver. The receiver is indeed indebted but the debt takes the form of a responsibility to care for the book. In analysing our material, we argue that every meeting between antiquarian and bookshop visitor results in liminal ceremonies that produce a space (what we, adopted from Lefebvre, call a representational space) for their interaction. Such analysis suggests that the interactions are taking place somewhere on a continuum of spaces stretching from commodity to gift. The role of the antiquarian thus stretches from seller to giver, the visitor, from buyer to receiver, and the bookshop, from shop to collection.
The purpose of this paper is to relate the rituals of death practised in the Monks’ Republic of Mount Athos in northern Greece, and to reflect on them as an academic. To do this fifty days and nights were spent on the Holy Mountain conducting ethnography; this enabled both the monks’ enactments to be captured and their interpretations recorded. The monastic rituals of death on Mount Athos are presented according to three emergent, paradoxical themes. These are that death is: both near and far; both a blessing and a tragedy; both uniting and dividing. The paper, the first study of monastic rituals of death on Mount Athos, then reflects on these themes in relation to being an academic, concluding that the limited commemoration of our colleagues in universities is intertwined with the slow death of the academic vocation.
By applying the “learning from looking elsewhere” approach I offer recommendations for the advancement of ethnographic practice derived from a study of direct selling distributors. The article is based on a long-term field study (observations and interviews) conducted among sales forces for a global direct sales cosmetics company. The study is supplemented with the inclusion of auto-ethnographic vignettes from the author’s personal experiences as ethnographic researcher and supervisor. I develop a typology of four coping strategies’ currently functioning in direct selling organizations: 1) offer routine to follow; 2) make the task manageable; 3) offer emotional purpose; and 4) provide an opportunity for gradual immersion. This typology can be usefully applied for categorizing, communicating, and developing strategies for ethnographic practice. Finally, new aspects of basic academic activities for organizational ethnographers are identified.
This article presents the idea of mapping organizational learning as a way of doing organizational ethnography. It suggests that organizational learning is a (re)assemblage of human and non-human and material and immaterial forces that reverberate in networks of lived stories. Mapping is suggested as a process of collecting and writing about lived stories as they emerge in different historical, geographical and material conditions. It is seen as a way of capturing a dynamic, changing and unfolding network of stories that are tied together, but are still disparate from one another. The article ties the idea of mapping to regional development projects concerned with the actualization of the bio-economy.
Amid the disempowerment and marginalization faced by young girls, character development programs are being implemented to change the course for girls by fostering strong and empowered feminine identities. I explore the challenges of implementing one such program through my ethnographic and community engaged research with a character development program designed to equip 3rd through 5th grade girls with the skills and confidence they need to grow into empowered women. Through a qualitative analysis, I empirically demonstrate the importance of community engaged scholarship for uniting theory with practice. My analysis extends research exploring community engaged, empowerment programs by highlighting the ways empowerment is experienced differently by every girl. I point to the tension between empowerment in theory and in practice, specifically addressing the assumptions: 1) of girls’ uniform experience base, 2) about the influence of the GRL message among competing others, and 3) regarding the utility of certain strategies in diverse situations, all of which undermine the process of empowerment. I describe my experience working with the founder of the organization to revise the curriculum and offer a set of practical implications for this and similar organizations to productively respond to the tensions between the theory and practice of empowerment. Finally, I argue for a conceptual shift in the way we theorize empowerment as an ongoing and constantly negotiated state of engagement, rather than an endpoint or stable state of being.
Contemporary organizations feature absence of boundaries and are increasingly defined by loose couplings, pluri-vocality and network configurations. What Foucault (1995) addressed as a former society of discipline is transformed and replaced into what Deleuze (1995) refines as a society of control that incorporates its subjects into new and ever changing lines of subjectification. This transformation of dispositifs (Deleuze, 1992; Foucault, 1980) and authoritative discourses (Bakhtin, 1982) that compose (and is composed of) a contemporary way of living induces in other words new types of embodied organizational knowledge and ways of organizing, which have consequences for how subject positions are (re)configured in everyday corporate lives. Such identity work is rarely studied in local discursive practices of today’s modern and emergent corporations. The aspiration in the present article is to scrutinize local practices in a dialogue based leadership development forum in university settings. This provides insights into the lived lives and identity work in Aalborg University representing a temporary, polyphonic and cross-disciplinary research project in a modern corporation. The project was an example of a loose-coupled and temporary arrangement/organization that invited a diverse group of participants to engage in the co-production of knowledge in/on leadership communicative practices. The participants were professional leaders from diverse organizations in the North of Jutland together with researchers and candidate students from the study programs of communication and philosophy at Aalborg University.
This paper describes how two professors struggled with traditional and non-traditional approaches to scholarship in order to understand how they could best serve students in a new secondary school (grades 6-12) while fulfilling expectations for tenure and promotion. Using methods related to reflexive autoethnography, the authors explore the rewards and challenges of building a partnership between a college and school that enabled the development of a comprehensive and systemic college and career readiness program called the Career Institute (CI). The professors explore the tensions that arose when they tried to both build and study this program. Over time, the professors realized that in order for the program to be important and meaningful for students, they themselves needed to develop a non-traditional approach to scholarship that was engaged, responsive, and service-oriented. Accordingly, they developed a model from which to theorize about the goals and aims of community-engaged scholarship: “Community-engaged scholarship” creates, explores and extends research as it is valued by, valued for, and valued with.
This paper examines how employees respond to managements’ conflicting use of technocratic forms of control to ensure efficiency and socio-ideological control to produce an ‘on brand’ employee identity. The paper proposes a portrait-based form of ethnography as a way to illustrate both commonalities and differences in employees’ identity work and responses to managerial control within the call centre setting. The findings show that cynical distancing – and subtle enactment of the service brand – grows out of simultaneous embracing of and distancing from the contested work role. The study extends the concept of cynical distance as well as advances our understanding of how the tandem of socio ideological and technocratic control may work through employees’ cynical distancing. Finally, the paper argues for more nuanced insights into the identity work of call centre employees to fully understand negative but also positive consequences of managerial control in this specific setting.
The present study conceptualizes engagement by following Marifran Mattson’s story—from tragic motorcycle accident to community engagement. The authors advance a fivepart conceptualization of engagement and test its usefulness by exploring it in relation to a stage model approach and by contrasting it to Bourdieu’s theory of timidity and habitus in relation to symbolic violence. The community engagement begins with a motorcycle safety campaign and expands to include the development of support groups and public policy regarding health insurance fairness for amputees (a.k.a. prosthetic parity). The analysis draws on critical ethnography and the interpretation draws on alternative perspectives and reflexivity. The findings suggest that the stage model is less useful than Bourdieu’s theory in explaining discursive practices, the role of professional discourses, and the emergence of heroic activism and heroic discourse in community engagement. Overall, the study paints a picture of what Boyer (1996) called the “scholarship of engagement.”
When doing any kind of ethnography we are always confronted with questions of power and domination. In this article the problem is dealt with through an analysis of the debate between Gadamer and Habermas. In the late 1960es and the early 1970es they exchanged a series of essays and articles where they discussed the status of power and domination in relation to understanding (hermeneutics) in particular and to the social sciences in general. I will use some of the arguments from this debate and confront them with the an ethnographic method called the conceptualising method (Henriksen et al, 2004), as I find that the role of power and domination discussed in this ancient debate also counts for the conceptualising method in particular and in any ethnography in general.
This paper explores the concept of dominance in traditional rural and remote island communities in the Zadar island archipelago in Croatia. Like their EU counterparts, these communities struggle with geographical remoteness; island depopulation, irregular ferry connections, lack of entrepreneurship, unemployment and poverty. A previous study captured a complex web of communal relationships that play a part in minimising these negative effects on the island communities’ lives. This study focuses on studying one such behaviour - dominance and, thus, is concerned with two questions: How does dominance reveals itself, and what is its significance in practice? A conceptual and methodological approach consisting of living acts in Roman Ingarden’s spirit, ethnography, deconstruction and storytelling becomes a tool for observing the rural island communities’ experiences. In the process, the approach undergoes a qualitative metamorphosis – it co-exists and co evolves so to help us to better understand how island life unfolds. Findings show that dominance reveals itself as rada, signifying the approach of bonding the members into theisland community. Rada in this sense symbolizes Deleuze’s weapon against the governmental economisation. To engage and support the needs of the island communities, it is vital to understand how they make informal decisions, and studying local communal practices in this sense, has practical implications for the policy makers with the responsibility for small island development.
This article reports the author's experience of working in telesales. Through a call center, the case study company sells home improvements. The article describes the everyday organizational life of the telesales unit. Using this autoethnographic experience, the article analyses the organization of work-time in call centers. In particular, the article probes how commission constitutes a form of piece-wage. This piece-wage assists the manipulation of working hours. It does so by masking their extension. To understand this, the article appliesthe conceptual tools of Marx’sCapital. Marx directs attention to how
capitalists organise time in the pursuit of surplus-value. The autoethnographic account explores the application of this to call-center work. Flexible working arrangements and zero-hour contracts extend work-time. A pay framework based around commission and performance-linked piece-wages conceals this.In the case study, there is an absence of technology as productivity-raising measure or means of control. This challenges existing Foucauldian approaches to call-center work. It suggests that traditional forms of capitalist domination-the contract, the wage, time organization- are highly relevant to the call-center context.
This paper responds to current interest in the ‘untold’ in organizational storytelling research. In particular the research presented here contributes to studies that consider storytelling in relational terms. In this context, untold is constructed as both a provocation and a pointer to multiplicity: innumerable relationships of story. To develop and illustrate the argument of the paper, the discussion adopts interference as a deliberate methodological device. To illustrate the significance of composition and fabrication in storytelling the study consider fragments from an extensive period of multi-site ethnographic fieldwork with a professional, established and award winning author involved in literary, television drama and other story projects. The developing field of relational storytelling studies is discussed and attention drawn to key research foci: specifically current concerns for intertextuality, heteroglossia, materiality and flux. A fieldwork vignette is used to examine and extend a relational sense of ‘untold stories’. Further vignettes and a selective focus on science and technology studies relational ethnographies extends this discussion by focusing on performance, fabrication and fiction. The paper concludes that a fabrication sensibility that notices and attends to story on the move necessitates a shift in both methodological and representational strategy. In terms of method the paper demonstrates the potential value of extended, multi locational and deep field ethnography. In terms of representation, if stories are innumerable than we require a number of monograph ethnographies that can reveal and attend to varieties of limitless material, mobile and heterogeneous stories. In other words, if stories are lived, we require methods that attend to social life as lived if we are to surface and reframe hitherto untold, unseen and unheard agency at work in organizations.
Increasingly, organization and communication scholars are paying critical attention to the materiality work/life. In this vein, this paper explores the connections between job segregation, object relations, and the performance of work belongings. In particular, it speaks into the question: how do object relations constitute segregated job belongings? Drawing on data from a year-long, comparative ethnography of barbers and hairstylists, the analysis focuses on barbershop and hair salon mirrors and the complex relations produced by barbers’ avoidance and hairstylists’ engagement of this common object. Specifically, these object relations were found to not only differentiate job belongings, but also materialize erotics (pains and/or pleasures) in the constitution of job segregation. The paper closes with implications of these findings for studies of materiality, especially in terms of how object relations and pleasures summon and segregate working bodies and jobs.