AOM Ethno PDW

Academy of Management (AOM) - Professional Development Workshops (PDW)

 

From 2009 to 2019, with colleagues and doctoral students, I co-organized a series of Professional Development Workshops titled "Being There/Being Them" at the Academy of Management for those interested in qualitative methods, particularly ethnography. The goal was for junior scholars and doctoral students to get feedback on their projects, and for all participants to get to know each other better. Below are summaries of these PDWs:

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AOM PDW 2019 : Being There/Being Them: The Future of Ethnography

Co-Organizers: Michel Anteby (Boston U.); Audrey Holm (Boston U.); and Ayinwi Muma (Stanford U.) Participants: : Jeanette L. Blomberg (IBM) and Siobhan O'Mahony (Boston U.)

Ethnography is valued both within and beyond academia for the deep insights it can provide into organizational life as seen and experienced by organizational members. Yet as the nature of work undergoes a number of transformations, new conversations are needed to explore how ethnographic methods may be used in the future. Using an interactive format, the workshop will address two primary questions: First, how will contemporary organizational ethnography – the practice of close participant observation – need to evolve to keep pace with future organizing models? The increasing use of algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data in organizations represents a seismic shift to traditional conceptualizations of agency, coordination, boundaries, and other organizational forms. How might ethnographic practices vary when some actors are not human, as is the case with certain applications of algorithms or artificial intelligence? Second, what broader changes might we anticipate in the use of ethnographic methods? For example, will ethnographers develop new forms of collaboration and/or turn to different outlets for publication?

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AOM PDW 2018 : Being There/Being Them: Ethnography Then and Now

Co-Organizers: Michel Anteby (Boston U.); Audrey Holm (Boston U.); Participants: Curtis K. Chan (Boston College); Gary Allen Fine (Northwestern); and Ruthanne Huising (EM Lyon Business School).

This workshop seeks to explore how organizational ethnographies and the use ofethnographic methods in organizational research have changed or stayed the same over the past few decades. Though the ethnographic approach has been codified (Geertz, 1973; Mauss, 1967) and updated on a regular basis (Beaud & Weber, 2010; Emerson, Fretz, & Shaw, 2011; Fine, 1993; Marcus & Fischer, 1999; Van Maanen, 2011), much of the key tenants of the approaches seem to have remained unchanged: e.g., immersing oneself in a field setting, getting to know participants, writing field notes, and more. Though most ethnographers value this tradition, very few talk about how their own approach might have changed over time or how it might significantly differ from past approaches. Thus, changes in the practice of ethnography are mostly left unspoken. In this workshop, we seek to foster a discussion on the changing nature of ethnography within organizational research. Using an interactive format and building on a cross-generational roster of participants, the workshop will address two primary questions. First, how does contemporary organizational ethnography compare or differ from past ethnographic practice? Second, what are the implications?

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AOM PDW 2017: Being There/Being Them: Comparative Approaches to Ethnography

Co-Organizers: Michel Anteby (Boston U.); Audrey Holm (Boston U.); Participants: Julia DiBenigno (Yale); and Melissa Valentine (Stanford).

This professional development workshop seeks to explore comparative approaches to ethnography as a method for advancing management scholarship and developing new theory. Comparative ethnography enables researchers to study how important processes and relationships vary across organizations, sites, or settings, using multiple cases to extend and refine theory through replication or disconfirmation. Comparative field research can lead to the generation of novel theories by uncovering surprising commonalities and/or differences in processes and outcomes; it provides grounds to generalize findings across and within organizations; it enables the specific identification of boundary conditions; finally, it offers an opportunity to link processes and institutional contexts. We seek to encourage the exploration of employing a comparative approach in current ethnographic projects by discussing the practical and theoretical challenges and benefits associated with it. Using an interactive format, the workshop will address two primary questions. First, conceptually and tactically, what are the challenges and opportunities associated with the use of comparative ethnography? Second, what might be the implications of those challenges and opportunities for the way ethnographers select settings, design research, as well as collect, analyze, and theorize their data?

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AOM PDW 2016: Being There/Being Them: Ethnography, Meaning, and Beyond

Co-Organizers: Michel Anteby (Boston U.); Curtis K. Chan (Harvard); Julia DiBenigno (MIT), Elizabeth Hansen (Harvard). Participants: Sarah Kaplan (Toronto); Curtis LeBaron (BYU); and Renee Rottner (UC Santa Barbara).

This professional development workshop seeks to explore the implications of how organizational ethnography relates to and captures the duality of meaning-making as both cognition and interaction. Ethnography has long been associated with the cognitive aspect of meaning-making through its link to the concept of culture. Yet at the same time, ethnography goes beyond just cognition to include the interactions, practices, artifacts and spaces that make up life in a social setting. As other methodologies are increasingly employed to study or “measure” meaning, it is worth revisiting the distinctiveness of the ethnographic method to capture the duality of meaning-making as both cognition and interaction. We seek to encourage the exploration of this theme in current ethnographic projects by discussing various perspectives on the link between ethnography and the duality of meaning-making. Using an interactive format, the workshop will address two primary questions. First, what are the strategies and implications of utilizing ethnography to document meaning-making? Second, what are the strategies and implications of using ethnography to document the duality of meaning-making as both cognition and interaction, and to theorize the relationships between the two?

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AOM PDW 2015: Being There/Being Them: The Intersection of Occupational and Organizational Ethnography

Co-Organizers: Michel Anteby (Boston U.); Curtis K. Chan (Harvard); Julia DiBenigno (MIT), Elizabeth Hansen (Harvard). Participants: Steve Barley (Stanford); Lisa Cohen (Mc Gill); Emily Heaphy (Boston U.); and Gerardo Okhuysen (UC Irvine).

This workshop seeks to explore new directions in ethnography by discussing how ethnographers address (or not) the intersection of occupational and organizational dynamics in their work. Most ethnographies focus either at the occupational or organizational level, without addressing the relationship between them. Thus, the particularities of how occupational and organizational dynamics shape one another are often absent in ethnographic accounts. We seek to encourage the exploration of this theme in current ethnographic projects by discussing various perspectives on addressing this interplay. Using an interactive format, the workshop will address two primary questions. First, conceptually and tactically, what are the challenges and opportunities associated with addressing both occupational and organizational dynamics in ethnography? Second, what might be the implications of those challenges and opportunities for the way ethnographers select settings, design research, as well as collect, analyze, and theorize their data?

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AOM PDW 2014: Being There/Being Them: Entry, Exit, and In-Between in Organization Ethnography

Co-Organizers: Michel Anteby (Harvard); Curtis K. Chan (Harvard); Julia DiBenigno (MIT), Elizabeth Hansen (Harvard). Participants: Beth Bechky (NYU); Carol Heimer (Northwestern U.); Jeffrey Sallaz (U. of Arizona); and John Van Maanen (MIT).

This workshop seeks to explore new directions in organizational ethnography by discussing the general stages and temporal rhythms of ethnography: how ethnographers navigate the field at entry, exit, and in-between. Though most ethnographies include some description of how access was gained, very few ethnographers write about how their relationship to the field changed over time and how (or even whether) they exited the field. Thus, the particularities of entry, exit, and in-between are often absent in ethnographic accounts. We seek to encourage the exploration of this theme in current ethnographic projects by discussing various perspectives on the stages and temporal rhythms in ethnography. Using an interactive format, the workshop will address two primary questions. First, how are the particular stages of field entry, exit, and immersion in organizational ethnography understood, and what are the challenges and opportunities of each stage? Second, what are the implications of these stages for the way scholars produce ethnography, including the processes of choosing settings, designing research, collecting data, analyzing data, and writing?

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AOM PDW 2013: Being There/Being Them: The Role of Self in Ethnography

Co-Organizers: Elizabeth Hansen and Curtis K. Chan (Harvard); Participants: Michel Anteby (Harvard); Kimberly D. Elsbach (UC Davis); and Melissa Mazmanian (UC Irvine).

This workshop seeks to explore new directions in organizational ethnography, in particular addressing the scholarly discussion around the relevance of the ethnographer’s self. In many past ethnographies, the role of the ethnographer in the production of ethnography has been largely obscured. Although there has been movement towards more closely examining the ethnographer’s self in anthropological and sociological discourse, the field of organization studies has—for the most part—not yet undergone such a shift. We seek to encourage and improve the exploration of such directions in current ethnographic projects by discussing various perspectives on the role of the ethnographic self. Using an interactive format, the workshop will address two primary sets of questions. First, conceptually, what is the role of the ethnographer’s self in organizational ethnography? Second, what might be the implications of this role for the way scholars produce ethnography, including the processes of choosing settings, designing research, collecting data, analyzing data, and writing?

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AOM PDW 2012: Being There/Being Them: Ethnography Beyond Single Organizations

Co-Organizers: Hila Lifshitz-Assaf (Harvard); Joelle Evans (MIT); and Michel Anteby (Harvard); Participants: Alexandra Michel (U. of Southern California); Siobhan O'Mahony (Boston U); Tammar B. Zilber (Hebrew U.); and Graham M. Jones (MIT).

This workshop seeks to explore and discuss new directions in ethnography, in particular the relevance and challenges of moving beyond the organization as the main field site. Many scholars have called for a renewed attention to how organizations and organizational practices are embedded in broader social or institutional arrangements. Scholars have moved beyond the boundary of organizations in two major ways: by embedding the organization(s) studied within the broader context or by materially moving beyond the organization as a single site. We seek to encourage and improve the exploration of such direction in current ethnographic projects (dissertation, papers, and books) by discussing how to strategize these types of ethnographic approaches. Using an interactive format, the workshop will address two primary sets of questions: 1) How can ethnographers move beyond the organizations to make their work impactful to both scholars and practitioners? And 2) How might this influence the way we produce our projects? including choice of setting, data collection, data analysis, and writing processes. The session’s goals are to answer these questions, continue building a community, and importantly provide feedback to scholars engaged in ongoing project.

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AOM PDW 2011: Being There/Being Them: Producing Ethnographies

Co-Organizers: Joelle Evans (MIT); Hila Lifshitz (Harvard); and Michel Anteby (Harvard); Participants: Daniel Beunza (LSE); Karen Ho (U. of Minnesota); Paul M. Leonardi (Northwestern U); Michael Pratt (Boston College); Ofer Sharone (MIT); and John Van Maanen (MIT).

This workshop seeks to develop and improve ethnographic projects (dissertation, papers, and books) with an emphasis on the work of interpreting and representing ethnographic data. Ethnographic work has generally offered interesting and impactful contributions to literatures on labor, institutions, occupations, and teams and can lend itself to publications in journals and books. However, one of the main challenges faced by ethnographers is to translate rich and lively data into the language and codes of social sciences. Using an interactive format the workshop will address two primary sets of questions: 1/ how to interpret, make sense of and order rich data issued from fieldwork and 2/ how to manage the tensions between interpretive approaches and the norms for representing social science contributions. The session’s goals are to provide some answers to these questions, build a community, and importantly provide feedback to scholars engaged in ongoing projects. The participants have contributed to a variety of literatures (management, occupations, anthropology, sociology and industrial sociology) and have a broad experience publishing ethnographic work in a variety of formats (books, articles in management and sociology journals). They will discuss the common challenges of producing ethnographies as well as highlight issues related to these different types of contributions. The target audience is junior scholars who will be able to interact with seasoned colleagues and learn by doing, namely by discussing works-in-progress.

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AOM PDW 2010: Being There/Being Them: Having Impact with Ethnography

Co-organizers: Alexandra Michel (University of Southern California) and Michel Anteby (Harvard U.) Participants: Martha Feldman (UC Irvine); Katherine Kellogg (MIT); Karen Locke (College of William & Mary); John Weeks (IMD); Mark Zbaracki (U. of Western Ontario); and Mark de Rond (Cambridge U.)

This workshop seeks to develop and improve ethnographic projects (dissertation, papers, and books) with an emphasis on the projects’ impact. Current organizational research that relies on ethnographic data has proven varied both in content and format — spanning, for instance, literatures on labor, institutions, occupations, and teams as well as appearing in journals and books. Using an interactive format the workshop will address two primary sets of questions: 1) What makes ethnographies impactful to both scholars and practitioners? What are also important commonalities, regardless of content and format, of such ethnographies? And 2) How might this influence the way we produce our projects, including choice of setting, data collection, data analysis, and writing processes? The session’s goals are to answer these questions, build a community, and importantly provide feedback to scholars engaged in ongoing projects. The target audience are junior scholars who will be able to interact with seasoned colleagues and learn by doing (namely by discussing works-in-progress) as well as more seasoned scholars wanting to share their expertise. (Besides pre-registered participants, other participants are welcome pending room-capacity.)

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AOM PDW 2009: Being There / Being Them: Writing Ethnographic Tales

Co-Organizers: Alexandra Michel (University of Southern California) and Michel Anteby (Harvard). Presenters: Beth Bechky (UC Davis), John Weeks (IMD), Martha Feldman (UC Irvine), Leslie Perlow (Harvard), and Karen Locke (College of William & Mary).

PDW Description: This workshop seeks to develop and improve ongoing methodological projects relying on extended participant-observation (dissertation, papers, and books), particularly by contrasting types of ethnographic writing styles. Two main writing styles have been proposed (Van Maanen, 1988). A first style, labeled “confessional tales,” adopts “highly personalized” writing approaches, often with “self-absorbed mandates.” A key challenge with such a style is to aim for a sufficient level of universality while grounding the analysis in what can be seen as “interpretative” approaches (Marcus and Fisher, 1986). The alternative is to adopt a more “realist” style, namely “direct, matter of fact portraits of studied cultures.” (A third hybrid category, “impressionist tales,” combines confessional and realist style elements.)

Impactful ethnographers master both the data collection and writing processes. The workshop will address a number of questions around ethnographic writing including: 1) What forms of ethnographic writings have most impact? 2) What are the important features, regardless of forms, of strong ethnographic dissertations, papers, and books? And 3) How are the outputs composed? The panel consists of scholars who have published or acted as editors on such writing projects. The workshop is divided in three parts: 1) a general session addressing important aspects of contrasted participant-observant writing, 2) small break-out groups discussing participants’ projects, and 3) a general integrative session.