Susan Faulkner

Attaining Humanity

DANNY MILLERThank you very much, indeed. I’m really delighted to be here and to meet this community. I hope that this will be the start of an engagement. As I think it’s sort of clear, I am a pretty academic anthropologist. That makes me a bit anxious, because I do remember going to something a bit like this a long time ago, and the keynote was this kind of academic anthropologist. It was very much this sense of they were standing there and it was like what they had done was so important and so kind of profound. Yes, there were these people doing this kind of more applied work. Well, I suppose you’ve got to do something for a living, but with all of these theories, you know, we can help you do this kind of thing.And when you actually look, I think these days the work of the kind of people who stand up and say that, I would actually say that they’re the kind of theoretical academic work going on in the social sciences today—it is actually increasingly problematic. I think an awful lot of it is very pretentious; it’s very...

Reflections on Positionality: Pros, Cons and Workarounds from an Intense Fieldwork

EDUARDO GONÇALVES and MARCELO FAGUNDES During a project an ethnography team immersed itself in the lifestyle of lower socio-economic class women. From the different worldviews between these groups, we discuss positionality and access to data, i.e. the ways characteristics such as socio-economic, education, social status, and gender influence the research. The idea is not to set ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’, but to ponder on how successful (or not) were our attempts and reflect on unforeseen effects of our own work....

What We Talk about When We Talk Data: Valences and the Social Performance of Multiple Metrics in Digital Health

BRITTANY FIORE-SILFVAST and GINA NEFF Data as a discursive concept in and around data-intensive health and wellness communities evokes multiple social values and social lives for data. Drawing on two years of qualitative, ethnographic observations, participation, and interviews in these communities, our work explores the gap between discourses of data, the practices with and around data, and the contexts in which data “live.” Across the communities of technology designers, “e-health” providers and advocates, and users of health and wellness data, we find that tensions emerge not around the meaning or legitimacy of particular data points, but rather around how data is expected to perform socially, organizationally and institutionally, what we term data valences. Our paper identifies data valences in health and wellness data, shows how these valences are mediated, and demonstrates that distinct data valences are more apparent in the interstitial interactions occurring in the spaces between institutions or among powerful stakeholder...

Searching for the ‘You’ in ‘YouTube’: An Analysis of Online Response Ability

PATRICIA G. LANGE Enthusiasm for adding sociality to Web sites is mounting. Yet, the YouTube experience shows that participation in social networking sites is complex and potentially contentious. Meaningful participation in part depends upon participants’ ability to respond to others and contribute to a site. While some participants demand more active involvement from administrators to create a safe and encouraging environment, others view intensive regulation as impairing their individual response ability to communicate with others and contribute. Discussions about adequate participation inevitably lead to a consideration of administrators’ responsibility for creating an environment that provides sufficient opportunities for widespread and diverse participation. Before embarking on creating a community or adding intensive social networking components that may be monetized to a site, administrators should think carefully about the challenges that will likely ensue as participants become more passionate about the community and consequently...

Ethnographic Inspection Identifying Project Risks

AKIHIKO OBATA, SHIGERU YAMADA, HIROAKI HARADA, SADAYO HIRATA and SEISUKE ITO We propose a new approach for project inspection applying ethnography to identifying IT system project risks. Guideline-based inspection is generally conducted in the IT industry to reduce project risks. Guidelines are created based on analysis of failures in past projects. However, it is difficult to detect new risks that emerged according to changes of project environments. We hypothesized that an ethnographic method would have some value to detect such emerging risks by capturing insiders’ perspectives. We developed procedures and guidelines to conduct inspection by ethnographic approach for IT experts. To clarify the value of the method, we conducted project inspection by the ethnographic approach on two projects that have already received guideline-based inspection. Problems found by the ethnographic inspection were not quite new for the members observed and interviewed. However, the ethnographic inspection successfully captured tacit problems that...

Strategic Ethnography and Reinvigorating Tesco Plc: Leveraging Inside/out Bicultural Bridging in Multicultural Teams

MARY YOKO BRANNEN, FIONA MOORE and TERRY MUGHAN This paper focuses on a study of Tesco Plc conducted in 2011, in which we trained a multicultural team of nine Asian managers to become in-house ethnographers of Tesco UK for a 3-month period studying 52 stores in the UK with dual objectives of helping Tesco (1) to understand and evaluate the core practices that comprised the essence of Tesco’s home country advantage, and (2) to identify sources of learning from Tesco’s foreign subsidiaries to aid in reinvigorating its core in light of increasing competition in its home market. We believe that the strategic and training dimensions of this project constitute a new contribution to the field of organisational ethnography, particularly with regard to the use of a multinational ethnographic team of non-native speakers of English....

Ethnography as Executive Exposure – Spectacle or Higher Education?

HEINRICH SCHWARZ This paper reports and reflects on a perhaps new development: A rise of projects where the ethnographic experience of clients moves to the center. With these projects, often for higher level executives, the exposure by clients to real people becomes the main selling point. The paper discusses two recent projects–a workshop for a media company and a study trip for management of a pharmaceutical company–to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of this species of corporate ethnography where experience production outweighs knowledge production. Is the result a spectacle or higher education? A return to capitalizing on the exotic, or a much needed learning experience for high-level decision makers? The paper suggests that the emphasis on ethnographic experience offers an opportunity to engage our clients more deeply but also entails the danger of losing control over the results of ethnographic research without adequate analysis....

Giving Voice to Print Production Facility Workers: Representing Actual Work Practices in the Streamlining of a Labor Intensive Production Print Job

NATHANIEL MARTIN, MARY ANN SPRAGUE, PATRICIA WALL and JENNIFER WATTS-PEROTTI This paper presents findings from an ethnographic study of digital production printing, with a focus on a complex, labor-intensive production print job. The goal of the study was to inform the development of tools, processes and technologies to improve the efficiency of this kind of job within the print production facility. By documenting how work was done from the perspective of the people who did the work, our study ensured that the voices and perspectives of the workers were formally represented in the process of improving and streamlining the tools and print production facility workflows....

Ethnography as Design Provocation

JACOB BUUR and LARISA SITORUS In this paper, we present our experience in sharing ethnographic material with engineers that have a very different perception of technology and the role of its users. Rather than convey ‘findings’ in a rational argument, we have experimented with formats where the role of the ethnography is to provoke engineers to reframe their perception of new designs. Based on four design encounters (workshops) from two different design projects completed in industry, this paper looks at the ways in which the ethnographic material provokes design. We use video transcripts and conversation analysis to learn more about this mechanism of provocation....

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...

Ethics in Business Anthropology

LAURA HAMMERSHØY and THOMAS ULRIK MADSEN Solely protecting research subjects undermines ethical business anthropology practice. In this paper, we argue that a negative definition of ethics, manifest in the primary focus of “doing no harm” to research subjects, undermines a concern for the potential of business anthropology to do good in a broader sense. Alain Badiou’s concept of truth procedure gives, we argue, an actively responsible and necessary direction to ethical business anthropology in its complicity with constructing new subjectivities within contemporary society....

Reflective Probes, Primitive Probes and Playful Triggers

DARIA LOI In this paper I present and discuss Reflective Probes, Primitive Probes, and Playful Triggers – derivates of Cultural Probes that build off such work promoting multiple places for and uses of creative, inspirational and provocative artifacts in research and development endeavors. In the first parts of this paper I introduce the topic as well as providing relevant background details, briefly examining Cultural Probes from the perspective of their intended outcomes – what probes can enable. I then overview the three mentioned notions as well as emphasizing complications, implications and conclusions related to the deployment of these and similar tools. The paper offers a number of suggestions and questions related to the context, time, audience, producer, content, soul, purpose and form of these tools. Such suggestions have great implications within business contexts, where timelines, directions and multidisciplinary tensions can act as ‘interfering agents', complicating how these tools can be designed and deployed by...

Research to Reality: A Business Perspective

DAJA PHILLIPS Ricoh Innovations discovers unmet customer needs and designs and deploys hardware, software and service solutions to those needs through an interdisciplinary design process predicated on active customer participation. Some of our findings lead to new value propositions on which Ricoh planners investigate entirely new businesses. We attribute our success to our ability to translate our findings into actionable, risk-sensitive business cases tested and improved with active customer participation. We collaborate closely to weave our activities into critical product planning milestones, but retain ownership for the process of site selection, research, synthesis, business modeling and transfer to ensure success. As a result, Ricoh launched a new product line based on our research, in less than a year and our methodology is now used by other Ricoh research groups to serve Ricoh’s European and Japanese markets. The first half of this paper outlines the organization and methodology used to identify customer needs, and prove...

The Pop-up Ethnographer: Roles of the Researcher in Temporary Spaces

DEBORAH MAXWELL, MEL WOODS and SUZANNE PRIOR As our lived reality becomes ever more mobile and networked, society and business has adopted cultures and practices to embrace the creation of temporary interstitial ‘pop-up’ environments. These spaces, which can take the form of work environments (e.g. the UK Innovation Charity Nesta’s ‘Productive Coffee Breaks’), training (e.g. workshops), knowledge exchange (e.g. sandpits, culture hacks), and social environments (e.g. festivals), require us to examine the role of the temporal ethnographer. Our paper explores the changing and challenging roles that researchers must adopt and move between (from organizer, facilitator, participant, observer, and analyst) by examining four empirical case studies in a range of research contexts. Furthermore, we consider how short-term studies in such temporary, ‘pop-up’ environments can contribute to and be enriched by ethnographic practices....

Not Lost in Translation: Maximizing Impact in Marketing Ethnography through Bivocality

AMY MAISH and MAGDA WESOLKOWSKA The bivocal approach is a systematic research and strategy framework that leverages marketing professionals’ and social scientists’ unique perspectives in order to develop brand, consumer and cultural insights relevant to the business challenge. Thus allowing all voices to be heard equally and clearly: that of the social scientist and the marketing professional, that of culture, consumer and brand. It results in an explanation for the forces at play on the brand or business questions and acts as a cultural GPS for the brand. The explanatory nature and consistent connection between brand, consumer and culture allow for a highly grounded, and we would assert, more powerfully informed set of actions, including, when, how, and why brands/products are used or could be used by consumers....