Tracing the Arc of Ethnographic Impact: Success and (In)visibility of Our Work and Identities

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DONNA K. FLYNN and TRACEY LOVEJOY

This paper explores ways in which ethnographic impact in a large technology corporation is perceived, re-defined, and recognized – by both practitioners themselves and corporate stakeholders. The authors trace a history of ethnographic successes and stumbles, and ways they have confronted a strong usability paradigm that has shaped organizational assumptions of impact and value for product research. They then identify ways in which contextual analysis of their own practice in the corporation led to the successful creation of a strategic engagement model for ethnography, resulting in its growing influence. Through critical analysis of the conditions of influence in their own organization, the authors’ propose some broader frameworks for ethnographic impact and raise some questions for the EPIC community regarding business value, ethnographic identity, and organizational authority.

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  3 comments for “Tracing the Arc of Ethnographic Impact: Success and (In)visibility of Our Work and Identities

  1. May 12, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    […] on organization workflow processes at Microsoft with Tracey Lovejoy. Their paper on this work, “Tracing the Arc of Ethnographic Impact: Success and (In)visibility of Our Work and Identities,”…details the experience of anthropologists and their important contributions working between […]

  2. May 12, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    […] Tracing the Arc of Ethnographic Impact: Success and (In)visibility of Our Work and Identities, Donna Flynn & Tracey Lovejoy […]

  3. February 5, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    […] Tracey Lovejoy said much the same thing. She advised me to "build trust through small wins." She did this at Microsoft by coming up with solutions for quicker user feedback. But getting the ear of the right people is what she credits for her longer-term, strategic influence at Microsoft. […]

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