An Open Letter about EPIC and Homophobia
by GARY GEBHARDT, HEC Montréal Dear EPIC Community, I’m Gary, co-chair of EPIC2017 here at HEC Montréal. I’m writing this open letter because there have recently been some social media posts by an individual accusing EPIC of homophobia. Specifically, someone who submitted a proposal for EPIC2017 felt that his submission had been rejected due to homophobia: “I sensed clear homophobia and cannot see any other reason for awarding me the very lowest score.” This accusation has been published in some outlets along with the “Silence = Death” imagery most widely associated with the social activism of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) starting in the late 1980s. Wow. Where do I start? As a “very open” gay man, who was co-chair of EPIC2017, who opened the conference by reflecting on my own experiences of seeing the world differently as a gay man – in reference to the Perspective theme of the conference – I felt shock and disbelief that someone would accuse EPIC of homophobia. As a gay man who came out...
Making the Case for Cases, Part 1: EPIC Case Studies 101
by SIMON ROBERTS (Stripe Partners), GARY GEBHARDT (HEC Montréal) & MARK BERGEN (Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota), EPIC2016 Program Committee – Case Studies There’s a new format for EPIC2016: Case Studies. This post (and its companion Part 2) explains what we mean by cases, and what we are launching this format to achieve. Case studies in some form are not new to EPIC. Each year many presentations – be they full Papers or PechaKuchas – have taken the shape of loose case studies. But giving Case Studies a space of their own, with their own submission criteria, will lead to stronger case studies we believe. It will also encourage people to think more deeply about the relationship between ethnography and business impact, how EPIC can best fulfill its role in describing & documenting this impact, and how we can share it with audiences beyond the EPIC community. What We Mean by Case Studies Our vision for case studies is a method for teaching others about how ethnographic methods can be used to...
Making the Case for Cases, Part 2: Pathmaking
by SIMON ROBERTS (Stripe Partners), GARY GEBHARDT (HEC Montréal) & MARK BERGEN (Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota), EPIC2016 Program Committee – Case Studies (This post follows Making the Case for Cases, Part 1) Unlike the research stories shared in the past, making a dedicated space for Case Studies at EPIC signals it’s time for us to evolve cases as a genre. Summarizing last year’s conference, the EPIC Board writes: ...reflecting on the first 10 Years of EPIC, Jeannette Blomberg asked for fewer “just-so stories and more accounts of what is broken and what we can learn from it”—a reminder that while it is nice to celebrate our successes and tell interesting narrative case studies, we only push our practice and knowledge forward by dissecting that which fails and that which we do not understand. (The EPIC2015 Conversation) Indeed, even the best EPIC cases have sometimes come across as straightforward histories of inestimable success. We understand few people come to conferences motivated to...
The Trouble with Job Titles: Getting beyond Buzzwords in a Shifting Employment Landscape
by MARTHA COTTON, GARY GEBHARDT, TRACEY LOVEJOY, ABBAS JAFFER — and you! How have professional skills & requirements for ethnographers and other human-centered researchers changed over the last 10 years—and where are they headed? How can you evaluate the confusing terrain of position titles and descriptions, as well as assess the organizations offering them? Post your questions, insights & ideas! EPIC people gathered for an online discussion with Martha, Tracey, Gary & Abbas. Here are the introductions. Introductions Martha Cotton, Partner, gravitytank Back in the mid-90s when I was at eLab, researchers went through a brief period where our business cards said “Understander.” As a word, it fit to describe what I did for a living. But as a job title to communicate my role to others outside of my small ethnographer community, it was very hard to, well, understand. I have a memory of handing my business card to the store manager of a Boston area sporting goods store where I was to spend the day observing people...
Yes, Virginia, We “Do Ethnography” in Business Schools
by GARY GEBHARDT, HEC Montréal; co-chair of EPIC2017 One of the most common questions I get at EPIC is, “You do ethnography in business schools?" So ken anderson invited me to write a response to this recurring question. I’ll break the response into three topic areas: (1) the use of ethnography and its status vis-à-vis research on management; (2) where, why, and how we teach ethnography in the classroom; and (3) some of the challenges and opportunities of ethnography in management research and business school education. Ethnography and Research on Management First let’s consider some history. Oxford University was founded in 1096. Harvard University—the first university in North America—was founded in 1636. Yet Harvard Business School was the first to offer an MBA and it was founded in 1908. Business schools as training grounds for general and strategic management are a relatively recent phenomenon. Then, beginning in the late 1950s, there was a major movement to make business schools more academic and rigorous...