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

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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.

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