The Ethnography Atelier podcast discusses research methods with accomplished qualitative researchers. We talk to guests about their experiences of conducting research in and around organizations, the challenges they faced and the understandings they gained. The podcast is an initiative of the Ethnography Atelier at emlyon business school which promotes ethnographic and other qualitative research. For more information please visit our website at www.ethnographyatelier.org
Episode 9 - Steve Barley: Ethnography of technical work and occupations
This episode features a conversation of members and friends of the atelier with Professor Steve Barley about doing ethnographies of work and occupations. In particular, we discussed his research about technicians and long-term interest in grounding organization research in the study of work and technology. In the chat, Steve shares his experience in managing collective ethnographic projects and his forecast of future themes in the study of work, technology, and organizations.
Steve Barley is the Christian A. Felipe Professor in the College of Engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Steve earned his Ph.D. from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, where he collected data for his work on funeral directors and the introduction of CT scanners. He began his career at the ILR school at Cornell, where he engaged in several collective projects that went beyond producing new knowledge for our field and offered new models for doing that. He left Cornell for Stanford’s Department of Management Science and Engineering, where he is Professor Emeritus.
Barley, S. R. (1996). Technicians in the workplace: Ethnographic evidence for bringing work into organizational studies. Administrative Science Quarterly, 404-441.
Barley, S. R., & Kunda, G. (2001). Bringing work back in. Organization Science, 12(1), 76-95.
Barley, S. R., Bechky, B. A., & Nelsen, B. J. (2016). What do technicians mean when they talk about professionalism? An ethnography of speaking. In The structuring of work in organizations. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Bailey, D. E., & Barley, S. R. (2020). Beyond design and use: How scholars should study intelligent technologies. Information and Organization, 30(2), 100286.
Episode 8 - Pinar Ozcan: Comparative Case Method
This episode explores the comparative case method—as developed by Professor Kathleen Eisenhardt—with Professor Pinar Ozcan. This research strategy involves using one or more cases to create theoretical constructs, propositions and/or midrange theory from case-based, empirical evidence. In the conversation, we touched on the strengths and perils of such an approach for management research, some tricks to collect and analyze data across multiple cases, and some general challenges of becoming an inductive researcher.
Our guest, Pinar Ozcan is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and specializes in entrepreneurship and strategy in technology markets. Her current research includes the open banking project—where she is examining the industry disruption in banking through regulation and market entry of fintech companies—and the development of the sharing economy. She has also studied similar dynamics related to market formation and entry in the context of the gaming industry, mobile payments, and paid TV.
Episode 7 - Siobhan O'Mahony: Digital Ethnography
In this episode, we talk with Professor Siobhan O’Mahony about digital ethnography. Siobhan’s work explores how technical and creative communities organize for innovation. She has examined high technology contractors, open source programmers, artists, music producers, internet startups, and product development teams. In this conversation, she shared some great insights from her experience studying the Linux and Anonymous communities, such as how to navigate large volumes of online information, the role of research questions to arrive at robust findings, and the hidden benefits of doing fieldwork online.
Episode 6 - Sarah Sachs: Studying Algorithms Ethnographically
In this conversation with Dr Sarah Sachs, we explored the challenges involved in studying algorithms at work. Sarah’s research examines how data analytic technologies are reconfiguring work and organizations. Her dissertation “The Algorithm at Work: The Reconfiguration of Work and Expertise in the Making of Similarity in Art Data” is an ethnography of team practice in the DNArt project. In the episode, we talked about the work involved in making algorithms work, the strengths and limits of studying how organizations and people work with and around new technologies, and the challenges of sampling and gaining access to such phenomena in light of the growing interest around machine learning and AI.
Episode 5 - Gretta Corporaal: Studying Online and Offline Work
In this episode, we sat with Dr Gretta Corporaal from the Oxford Internet Institute to talk about the challenges of studying work ethnographically. Gretta has researched cross-boundary collaboration and, more recently, how some of the world’s largest corporations adopt online platforms to hire and manage specialists and the work involved in designing these platforms. During our chat, Gretta reflected on some tactics to study work which today is increasingly happening online and geographically distributed, and the importance of in-depth qualitative research on digital technologies and AI in and around organizations to offer more nuanced views on the changing nature of work in the digital gig economy.
Episode 4 - Nevena Radoynovska: Vulnerable Populations
This fourth episode of the podcast examines the challenges of researching vulnerable populations. We are joined in this conversation by our colleague Dr Nevena Radoynovska (emlyon business school) who has conducted research on social entrepreneurship based on fieldwork in the French quartiers prioritaires — government-designated disadvantaged neighborhoods with disproportionally high rates of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. In the episode, Nevena reflected on this recent study, its practicalities, and her effort to tell the stories of informants without re-enforcing stereotypes while also respecting their particularities.
Candid conversations on research methods!
This podcast has a great premise — talking with accomplished researchers about different methods. I got many insights from listening to it, some of which I am hoping to implement in my future research. I especially like the candid spirit in which people share their own struggles and lessons about using a certain method. I cannot wait for more episodes!