JACK WHALEN

Contributed Articles

Ethnography and Process Change in Organizations: Methodological Challenges in a Cross-cultural, Bilingual, Geographically Distributed Corporate Project

ELIZABETH CHURCHILL and JACK WHALEN We detail an ongoing, consultancy partnership, where ethnographic field methods are being used to elucidate the work practices of software engineers in a large organization. We focus on intellectual and logistical challenges that we face as a team – non-collocation; widely varying experience of ethnographic methods, local language and culture; and conflicting responsibilities and lines of accountability. We consider the social spheres in which our team members operate and the sociality of our team as a whole. As ethnographic teams are increasingly considered de rigueur within corporations for cultural translation in the face of globalization, the issues we face are likely to become more commonplace....

Teaching Organizational Ethnography

NOZOMI IKEYA, ERIK VINKHUYZEN, JACK WHALEN and YUTAKA YAMAUCHI In 2004 Fujitsu asked PARC to carry out an ethnographic investigation of their software business, focusing on their development processes, and while doing so to build an ethnographic capability in their own organization. One of our biggest challenges was to convince Fujitsu’s system engineers – and the development organization more generally – of the value of ethnography for their business. They are used to translating what they hear from customers about the workflow into a standard framework of system requirements and specifications; it was difficult for them to see the relevance of putting any significant focus on understanding what is going on in the workplace at the level of everyday work practices. Moreover, in their work with customers, system engineers commonly proceed in a carefully planned and highly structured manner, where every activity is expected to yield predictable outcomes. For them, the open-ended nature of ethnographic fieldwork seemed dangerously...