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

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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.

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

  1. November 18, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    […] with Jack Whalen at PARC in which she told a story of successfully overcoming these challenges (Churchill & Whalen 2005). The project in her case study focused on corporate change and used ethnographic methods were not […]

  2. September 28, 2017 at 3:12 am

    […] Ethnography and Process Change in Organizations: Methodological Challenges in a Cross-cultural, Bili…, Elizabeth Churchill & Jack Whalen […]

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