An Approach to Organizational Ethnographic Research: Strategy Methods and Processes
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Among qualitative methods ethnography, which has its roots in anthropology and interpretive sociology, is recognized by an increasing number of researchers as an appropriate strategy for studying organizations. The method is also seen as offering the potential for new and additional insights into accounting phenomena and has thus been adopted by researchers in management accounting. The transfer of the method has not however, been unproblematic with limitations being identified in both theory and research practice. It has been suggested that its application in management accounting can be characterized by a failure to disclose the theoretical foundations on which the work is based and a tendency for borrowing from the source disciplines to be eclectic with consequential theoretical inconsistencies. It is also suggested that there is scope to extend and enrich the approach by exploring how issues power and ideology might be integrated into the interpretive framework. Turning to research practice, similar scope for development is seen in relation to research validity procedures. This paper seeks to address issues arising from these perceived limitations by drawing on the source literature to describe a symbolic interactionist approach to enthnography that is cognizant of the methodological implications of symbolic interactionism and provides a platform for integrating issues of power and ideology. Finally, the paper discusses strategies and procedures for enhancing the likelihood that findings generated by this approach will be regarded as meaningful or trustworthy.