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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/23902

Title: Co-opted ethnography: A review of 40 years of ethnography in organization journals
Authors: De Coster, Marjan
Zanoni, Patrizia
Tammar, Zilber
Issue Date: 2017
Citation: EGOS Colloquium 2017 (33rd Colloquium of the European Group for Organizational Studies), Copenhagen, Denmark, 06-08/7/2017
Abstract: This review investigates how ethnography has been adopted in organization studies (OS) over the past 40 years (1974-2013). Drawing on Van Maanen’s ethnographic tales, we classify 209 empirical articles using ethnography published in two top-tier organization OS journals, the Academy of Management Journal (AMJ) and the Journal of Management Studies (JMS) into natural scientific, realist, confessional and special tales and examine the construction of each type. Our analysis shows a highly selective adoption of ethnography in OS. Empirical articles deploying ethnography remain numerically very limited, with only 7% of all published empirical articles in AMJ and JMS. Not only is, ethnography is most often used as a secondary data-gathering method merely to convey a sense of closeness to the phenomenon under study, our findings moreover reveal that studies using ethnography are mainly realist tales which are most similar to non-ethnographic studies. Grounded in an objectivist epistemology, they claim to capture concrete structures of social reality. They further meet dominant criteria of rigorous knowledge creation. We interpret this selective adoption of ethnography in OS as a process of co-optation.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/23902
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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