Clare Mumford
Open University Business School, UK

Multiple lenses of self and other:  A dialogical reading of video recordings, others' accounts & one's own fieldnotes to explore "what is going on here" in social interaction

This methodological paper explores some of the intertextual tensions which were encountered in using video recordings alongside other forms of data in an ethnographic "polyphonic" study of an inherently personal and secret phenomenon: staying silent in group discussions.

Video recordings have tended to be championed for their potential for non-linear, multidimensional analysis; the output is assumed to show one consistent version of “what happened" which can be shared and replayed (Heath, Hindmarsh and Luff, 2010).  The subjective aspects of using video have been discussed in terms of: the locational siting and gaze of the camera and the potentially intrusive impact on the naturalness of the interaction it captures (Muntanyola-Saura, 2012); the different phenomenological experiences of viewing video footage (Erickson, 2011) and different framing uses of transcripts of video interaction (Bezemer and Mavers, 2011).  There seems to be little however in organizational research methods literature about how viewing and re-viewing a video recording of group social interaction can change the ongoing and emergent relationships between researcher and participants in that group.

The core research interest in the study in question was the phenomenon of employee silence in mundane work situations: an exploration of how participants talked about what they withheld from project group conversations, and how they made sense of their withholding positioned within the ongoing flow of interaction.  The methodological premise was to use a triangulation of data around different participant accounts, not in order to develop truth claims but for an exploration of intersubjectivity and difference.  Data included my own participant observation fieldnotes over a six month period, video recordings of project group meetings, and individual interviews with group participants for post-meeting accounts of what they kept silent about during the meetings.  While acknowledging that the post-meeting  accounts provided a justificatory "accounting for" what happened, rather than a directly translatable commentary of the meeting, it was this very difference between the types of data that was of interest.  I was seeking to use the discursive lens of participants' post-meeting accounts to explore how the sensemaking about the individual, private activity of staying silent was positioned against the backdrop of our shared attendance, and the flow of meaning-making processes, in the meetings.

Sure enough, the transition from using my own account of "being there" to using the lens provided by others' accounts of "being there" provided new multi-layered, partially-hidden and contested, stories about what was happening in the project.  Yet, as the study progressed, the video recordings started to play an ambiguous role as they seemed to give preference to the experience of some participants over others.  Some of the accounts were clearly legible against the text of the video interaction.  Others were less easy to read or simply eluded me.  Sometimes the recordings in replay started to “talk back” and to encourage me to agree with or to doubt participants' new stories of what was going on, and also to question my own previous fieldnotes as now seeming inappropriate or naive.  The act of returning to review the video recording with this series of multiple "accounting for" lenses was prompting me to take up a new position with respect to my interviewees, to reconsider the relationship I had with them and how I should proceed in our interactions together from that point on.  In some respects, the video recordings could be conceptualised as a humanising, sensitizing tool, to understand people's actions better.  However, my analytical interpretation of the recordings over time was sometimes overriding the accounts that participants themselves gave of what was going on.  While the initial research aim had been to be guided by the dialogue with participants to read new meanings in the interaction, I subsequently started to resist these new interpretations and to reimpose my own monologic lens upon the proceedings.

The relationship between the three types of “account” - that provided by the video recording’s replay of the social interaction; the account arising from my lived experience as a researcher who was actively involved in the meetings as well as the ongoing project action; and the accounts provided by other participants  - seems therefore to warrant further exploration.  There are echoes here of the debate about the relevance of external context in Conversation Analysis methods of analysing social interaction; reference also to the issue of ongoing shifting relationships between researcher and researched (Cunliffe & Karunanayake, 2013); and to the "actant" role of objects, such as video recordings, described in Actor Network Theory. 

The paper seeks to address troubling questions such as: is there still a tendency in organizational research to assume that video should take precedence over other data since it is a form of data that we can rewind, share between us and review again in micro-detail to develop what is seen to be a more accurate reading?  Why would one person's account of their own experience become somehow lesser because it cannot be accommodated into the lens of a video recording?  Whose experience is downgraded and discounted in this form of methodological triangulation? 

Bezemer, J & Mavers, D (2011), 'Multimodal transcription as academic practice: A social semiotic perspective', International Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory & Practice, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 191-206. Cunliffe, AL & Karunanayake, G (2013), 'Working within hyphen-spaces in ethnographic research: Implications for research identities and practice', Organizational Research Methods, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 364-92. Erickson, F (2007), 'Ways of Seeing Video: towards a phenomenology of viewing minimally edited footage', in P Goldbaum, Barron and Derry (ed.), Video Research in the Learning Sciences, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, Mahwah, New Jersey.  Heath, C, Hindmarsh, J & Luff, P (2010), Video in Qualitative Research: analysing social interaction in everyday life, SAGE Publications Ltd, London. Muntanyola-Saura, D (2012), 'Expert knowledge and video-aided ethnography: a methodological account', Revue de Synthese, vol. 133, no. 1, pp. 75-100.

Ray Montagno,
Department of Marketing and Management,
Ball State University, USA

Ioan Muntean,
University of Notre Dame,
Department of Philosophy, Indiana University-Purdue University, USA

Communication in space, freedom in time. Spatialization, subjectivity, and representation of temporal experience

In this paper we investigate the influence communication technologies have on our subjective representation of time in direct correlation with our perception and representation of space. Our hypothesis is that recent advancements in communication technologies impact the representation of time based on the hypothesis of spatialization of time. We use the interplay between the representation and perception of space on one hand and the representation of time on the other hand and we assume that the representation of time is spatialized. Because of this relationship between spatial representation and temporal representation, the ability to communicate at long distances in space (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, videoconferencing, etc.) affects our subjective representation of time. We focus here on two subjective consequences of new technologies facilitating the communication with distant people: increase of our (subjective) control over the future and increase of polychronicity (the proclivity towards engaging in more than one task at a time). Although subjective, these two consequences of technology use can reduce stress and ultimately increase our degree of satisfaction and, why not?, happiness.

The first premise of our argument is that the perception and representation of time is an active construction, and not a passive registration of events outside us. As some philosophers and psychologists have argued, the mind is constantly reconstructing a sequence of events (Grush, 2007, 2008; Husserl, 1893). There are two key elements of the reconstruction of time experience: motion and space, and our emphasis will be here on the latter. We are interested here neither in the “objective time”, the universal time as recorded by physical processes at the atomic or cosmic level, nor in the socially established calendar (Ismael, 2011; Paul, 2011; Power, 2012). We do not focus particularly on the “time of the brain” either (which is like a clock of the neural processes in the brain). We delve into the phenomenological mind and on its representation of time and behavior in time (Gallagher & Zahavi, 2012). Spatialization of time operates at the level of phenomenological mind. In language and in mental representation there is a trend to indexicalize at least some representation of time, whereas some have more of an absolute value. R. Grush (Grush, 2005) talks about a direct analogy between the allocentric and egocentric spatial representation and their counterparts in temporal representation. The fact that Napoleon’s war preceded the Civil War is a case of allocentric temporal judgment. The fact that the Super Bowl Sunday will occur exactly two months from now is an example of an egocentric temporal judgment.

The representation of time is highly subjective because we represent and interpret the temporal information instead of directly perceiving it as we do with spatial information. The subjectivity of experience of time depends on a variety of factors: our background knowledge, age, gender, cultural upbringing and last but not least, the way we use tools such as technology or measuring devices. As properties of moments of time or time intervals are more “abstract” than their spatial analogues because we are not able to perceive time the way we perceive space through our visual system, the mind is forced to process events (in time) differently than points in space and reconstructs time from the perception of space and motion. Some would say that we perceive space but only imagine time (Evans, 2003; Ornstein, 1969). The very moment of present is specious and ephemeral. Our temporal experience is not punctate in time, but includes an interval with a given duration. As some have argued, we do not passively receive information about the temporal world but we interpret it (Grush, 2007). We constantly estimate the immediate future in order to reconstruct and represent time.

The second premise of our argument is that in dealing with the impact technologies have on the perception and representation of time, it is useful to use the metaphor of spatialization of time: time is represented through the space. We “spatialize” time to conveniently represent it (Boroditsky, 2000; Christian, Miles, & Macrae, 2012). We set aside different philosophical and metaphysical differences between space and time (Callender, 2008) and assume that spatialization is at least one form of representation of time. As Boroditsky and collaborators have shown in a set of experiments (Casasanto & Boroditsky, 2008), the ability to reason about temporal order or duration depends on information about spatial, and not the other way around.

Temporal representations are harder to process than spatial representations because they constantly involve modeling the future: at the limit, one can admit that our whole experience of time is a chain of simulations and calculations of the possible future. This is not typically the case of spatial cognition: space is perceived and represented, unlike time which is more subjective and illusive. Spatial memory, spatial thought and spatial reasoning, as well as the location coding are superior to their temporal counterparts (Waller & Nadel, 2013).
Linguistic, cognitive and behavioral evidence revealed that we and many other animals represent abstract temporal constructs by “mapping” them to concreted spatial domains. For example, we represent past as backward, future as forward, present as no motion, etc. Language illustrates well the spatialization of time representation: we say we had a “short trip” or “we moved the meeting forward two hours” The ordinary watch is another example: the passage of time is coded as a circular or linear motion. Even digital clocks display time based on an analogy with integer numbers, which are all in a one-to-one correspondence with a line. We think of past as a distant “place in time” as well as of duration as distances separating events. Time has a one- dimensional linear structure similar to that of a spatial line.

The third premise of our argument is that space, as we represent it, is subjectively partitioned into spheres of preference. We tend to partition the represented space in different subjective spheres: public space and private space, profane space and sacred space, leisure space and work space, although none of these spheres are objective or real. We emphasize here the subjective aspect of such partitioning: what is public for myself can be private for another person etc. Ditto about my preference for a given sphere. Because of the spatialization of time, we conjecture that time has a similar temporal partitioning: for example public time and private time, time dedicated to work and time dedicated to family, profane time and sacred time. What is different in time partitioning from space partitioning is the arrow of time: there is an metaphysical and epistemic asymmetry between past, present and future.

Time’s subjective character is more obvious than space’s: we are overly nostalgic or sentimental about the past, optimistic or afraid of the future. We have a sequential representation of time and an unreliable memory about the duration and succession of events in time. We place different values on future pains or reward than on past or reward pains (Lowry & Peterson, 2011; Suhler & Callender, 2012). Last but not least, we acknowledge that we have more control over the future than we have over the present; we typically assume we have no control over the objective past, although the subjective past can be manipulated through the manipulation of memory.

Finally, we assume that each time sphere has various degrees of polychronicity or monochronicity attributed by each individual attribute some degree of monochronicity or polychronicity (Bluedorn, Kaufman, & Lane, 1992; Kaufman, Lane, & Lindquist, 1991).

We are interested in the influence technology has in the balance between polychronicity and monochronicity. We use communication technology here in a broad sense: anything that enables us to extend our own perceptual and representational abilities well beyond of our natural cognitive abilities is more or less a technological device. We focus on communication tools widely available, to an estimated two billions of users: Facebook, Skype, videoconferencing, Twitter, etc. We use the concept of technology very loosely, to cover a variety of tools used to communicate in space by extending our ability to connect, at various informational levels, with people at very distant places: co-workers, friends, people sharing the same interest, etc. We assume here that the subjectivity of time is morphed by these tools widely used.

The first conclusion we draw from our main argument is that technology that enables us spatially communicate with distant people will increase the polychronicity. Communicating with more than one person at distances very hard to cover otherwise does entail multitasking in time. A second conclusion, from the aforementioned premises, is that partitioning of time in independent spheres is more blurred once communication technology is used. The user may communicate for work from home during her own family time, and the other way around. This reduces the work fragmentation (Mark, Gonzalez, & Harris, 2005).

Last but not least, communication technology increases the subjective representation of the future of being more open, i.e. more under our control. The future, when spatialized, is represented as a space with more than one possibility and with more accessible places. The model of spatialization of time, if accurate, shows us how we reconstruct time from space. Being able to access more distant places is translated into having more options in time. As future branches into more open options, the user of the communication technology sees more freedom in choosing the temporal tasks to perform. This creates the perception (again, a subjective perception) that the future is more open to possibilities, by being spatialized, and ultimately may entail a higher degree of satisfaction and a more efficient time management.

The paper concludes with a critical re-evaluation of the major differences between space and time, as well as with a reassessment of the spatialization hypothesis. We emphasize the role spatialization plays at the level of subjective representation of time and that it can be a very useful working hypothesis for the way technology impacts our temporal representation.

Selected References
Bluedorn, A. C., Kaufman, C. F., & Lane, P. M. (1992) How many things do you like to do at once? An introduction to monochronic and polychronic time. The Executive, 6(4)17–26. Boroditsky, L. (2000). Metaphoric structuring: Understanding time through spatial metaphors. Cognition, 75(1), 1–28. Callender, C. (2008). The Common Now. Philosophical Issues, 18(1), 339–361. Casasanto, D., & Boroditsky, L. (2008). Time in the mind: Using space to think about time. Cognition, 106(2), 579–593. Christian, B. M., Miles, L. K., & Macrae, C. N. (2012). Your Space or Mine? Mapping Self in Time. PLoS ONE, 7(11), e49228. Claessens, B. J. C., Eerde, W. van, Rutte, C. G., & Roe, R. A. (2007). A review of the time management literature. Personnel Review, 36(2), 255–276. Dubinskas, F. A. (1988). Making time: ethnographies of high-technology organizations. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Evans, V. (2003). The structure of time language, meaning, and temporal cognition. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: J. Benjamins. Grush, R. (2007). Time and experience. In T. Müller (Ed.), Philosophie der Zeit: neue Analytische Ansätze (1st ed.). Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann. Grush, R. (2008). Temporal representation and dynamics. New Ideas in Psychology, 26(2), 146– 157. doi:10.1016/j.newideapsych.2007.07.017 Husserl, E. (1893). On the phenomenology of the consciousness of internal time. (Brough, John B, Trans.) (1991st ed.). Dordrecht [etc.]: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Ismael, J. (2011). Temporal experience. In C. Callender (Ed.), Oxford Handbook on Time. Oxford University Press. Lowry, R., & Peterson, M. (2011). Pure Time Preference. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 92(4), 490–508. Ornstein, R. E. (1969). On the experience of time. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Paul, L. A. (2011). Temporal Experience. The Journal of Philosophy, 107(7), 333–359. Power, S. E. (2012)The Metaphysics of the “Specious” Present. Erkenntnis, 77(1) 121–132. Suhler, C., & Callender, C. (2012). Thank Goodness That Argument is Over: Explaining the Temporal Value Asymmetry. Philosophers’ Imprint, 12, 15.

Amanda Peticca-Harris & Nadia deGama
School of Human Resource Management
York University, Canada

Sara R.S.T.A. Elias
Trulaske College of Business
University of Missouri, USA

Greed, grit, and qualitative research: Stories of securing samples

The 'guts' of qualitative research have been investigated in recent years. Extant literature has emphasized some of the challenges associated with conducting qualitative research, and considered the notion and impact of insider/outsider perspectives (Easterby-Smith and Malina, 1999; Westwood, 2004; Karra and Phillips, 2008) as well as the complexity of field research (Cole, 2013). In spite of the emergence of critical scholarly work that pokes at this seemingly un-problematic methodology (e.g. Cohen and Ravishankar, 2011), the methods sections of many empirical articles, even in journals that focus on qualitative research, remain lean, non-descript, and technical.

In this study we respond to a call by Koning and Ooi (2013) to further investigate and interrogate the awkward moments that researchers encounter during their field research. As Koning and Ooi (2013) attest, these personally uncomfortable field situations are often either marginalized or ignored altogether despite their importance to the research process. As Cassell and Symon (2004) underscore the importance of reflexivity in qualitative research, this paper articulates our 'awkward encounters' as three female doctoral students and the process of securing samples to collect data for our dissertations. Fieldwork, and gaining access in particular, is essentially a relational and embodied process in which emotions, such as awkwardness, play a key role in reflexive thinking (Koning & Ooi, 2013; also see Cunliffe, 2002). Awkward encounters may become critical points in qualitative inquiry as they lead researchers to question and revise their own assumptions and research designs (Cole, 2013). By focusing on awkward encounters, we also follow Locke, Golden-Biddle, and Feldman (2008: 916) who urge scholars to pay closer attention to – and ultimately accept – surprise, doubt, and reflexivity, as critical to the research process.  As will become clear in our paper, awkward encounters are not simply unexpected moments that happen and that can (or even should) be avoided; rather, these are powerful moments that have the potential to completely shift one’s research direction.

Thus, by using an auto-ethnographic narrative approach, this study exposes our experiences in trying to gain access into different communities of study (arts entrepreneurs in the United States, accounting firms in the United Arab Emirates, and yoga studios in Canada) and, consequently, in rethinking our position in the research process. This work emphasizes the specific stories that act as the under girdle of the research experience, the tribulations of gaining site access and securing participants and communities of study. Consistent with our reflexive approach, we also share internal conversations that have allowed us to reflect upon and assign meaning to both ourselves and others (Burkitt, 2012). Our work contributes to extant literature by giving voice to the uncomfortable situations as well as the serendipitous experiences that we encounter as we try to gain and secure access. This paper is best suited for Stream 2 – general issues related to methods, voices, and ways of writing as we problematize getting in and getting on in our research by sharing personal stories that are often minimalized or ignored in qualitative research. Our analysis reveals the complex play of power, identity, and ethics of securing samples with qualitative research.

Burkitt, I. (2012), “Emotional reflexivity: Feeling, emotion and imagination in reflexive dialogues”, Sociology, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 458-472. Cassell, C. & Symon, G. (eds) (2004), Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in Organizational Research, Sage, London. Cohen, L. & Ravishankar, M. N. (2011),"Doing qualitative business and management research in international and intercultural contexts” in Qualitative Organizational Research: Core methods and current Challenges, Eds. C. Cassell & G. Symon, Sage, Thousand Oaks. Cole, C. (2013), "Stories from the lived and living fieldwork process”, Qualitative Research in Management and Organizations, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 50-69.  Cunliffe, A. L. (2002), “Social poetics as management inquiry: A dialogical approach”, Journal of Management Inquiry, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 128-146. Easterby-Smith, M. & Malina, D. (1999), "Cross-cultural collaborative research: Toward reflexivity", Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 76-86. Karra, N. & Phillips, N. (2008), "Researching "back home": International management research as autoethnography", Organizational Research Methods, Vol. 11, 3: 541-561. Koning, J. & Ooi, C. (2013), “Awkward encounters and ethnography”, Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 16-32. Locke, K. Golden-Biddle, K. & Feldman, M. (2008), “Making doubt generative: Rethinking the role of doubt in the research process”, Organization Science, Vol. 19, 6: 907-918. Westwood, R. (2004), "Towards a postcolonial research paradigm in international business and comparative management" in Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for International Business, Eds. R. Marschan-Piekkari & C. Welch, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 56-83.

Donnalyn Pompper
Temple University School of Media & Communication

Interrogating Social Identity, Power, and Difference In Researcher-Researched Relationship Dynamics

Defining social identity difference is a point of departure in the all-important quest for creating a just society, as well as for advancing scholarship and theory building that benefits students, employees, and organizations. Social identity difference considerations play out in the focus of research, as well as relationships between the researcher and the participants. Rhetorically, difference is a problematic concept because it is developed and deployed in various ways; fueling vigorous debates among social researchers. The difference concept provides analytic value, enabling researchers to dissect large social group categories to discover how difference manifests and is expressed in relation to practices and discourses through modalities of experience, social relations, subjectivity, and identity.

Of particular interest to me is the fourth modality; difference as identity. I seek to inspire introspection about researchers’ and organizational managers’ own social identity in relation to employees, individuals and social groups – and to explore new ways to consider intersecting social identity dimensions and power dynamics inherent in research processes and in work relationships. Examining the numerous complex facets that define people’s social identity in organizations – in terms of age, class, culture, ethnicity, faith/spirituality, gender, physical/ psychological ability, sexual orientation, and more – are important concerns when supporting social identity difference, diversity and heterogeneity. Overall, research projects intended to expand an ever-increasing body of scholarship about social identity difference are driven by a goal to affect positive change in awareness and/or behaviors that ultimately will lead to a more just society.

Fundamentally, concern with power in critical studies and diversity research gives it a social purpose and provides a collective mantra for exorcising inequality, homogeneity, and exclusion from the workplace. Attending to ways people are socialized to accept enduring negative frameworks, discriminatory practices, and stereotypes is required for 21st century workplaces, locally and globally. Furthermore, effectiveness of global communication is diminished when scholars and organizational managers impose their ethnocentric assumptions on other cultures. Relatedly, researchers may overlook opportunities to address hierarchical researcher-as-powerful/researched-as-weak data collection and analysis process challenges. Dominant groups rarely ask questions from beyond their own standpoints, so that advantages of “matching” a researcher’s and researched’s social identity dimensions as a means to narrow the power gap sometimes may seem logical – but can prove impractical and emerge as an outcome of flawed logic.

Since the 1980s, well-heeded are serious concerns of researchers in sociology and feminist studies about social power associated with (or not) "the center" and "margins" as it plays out in research designs. Some have debated the best means for investigating the issues along ethnic/racial and other dimensions, often raising additional concerns about relationships between researchers and those being researched, frequently referred to in terms of "matching" and "experimenter effects." Findings of studies designed to narrow the researcher-researched power imbalance have found that having a researcher who is similar in social identity to research participants is best qualified for the project so that findings withstand scrutiny of validity and reliability. Such outcomes are steeped in standpoint epistemologies which privilege certain social identities and experiences over others.

Racial “matching” as a "methodological rule of thumb" (Twine, 2000, p. 6) evolved during post-World War II decolonization and antiracist movements of the 1960s – when it was presumed that ethnic minorities were distrusting of Caucasian/White "authorities" and many raised the issue of the feasibility and ability of Caucasian/White researchers undertaking research with people of color as respondents. Importantly, racial “matching” also was invoked as part of a movement to ethnically diversify the academy. In other words, racial “matching” was seized upon by those less concerned with whether Caucasian/White people could study nonwhites than with democratizing the social scientific community by opening it up to scholars of color. On the other hand, some have argued that “matching” is rooted in a realist epistemology; an assumption that there is a unitary truth about participants and their lives which interviewers need to obtain. The question of standpoint embedded within researcher-researched “matching” logic has been thoroughly critiqued as "too simplistic" (Phoenix, 1994, p. 49).

Whether or not researchers match those being researched, study processes and protocols must involve rigor and careful attention and those being researched should trust researchers. Researchers must be sensitive to avoid offended and objectifying experiences of research participants. Similarly, Anderson (1993) posited that expressing and displaying respect may supersede perceived lacking in a researcher due to social identity difference from those being researched. Yet, regardless of one's appreciation of or sensitivity toward social identity difference issues, hegemonic ideologies operate below the surface. In what Lincoln and Denzin (2003) called the “seventh moment” of qualitative research, it is recognized that research and the realities investigated are messy, complicated, layered, and multidimensional phenomena. Social identity difference work can become quite complicated and even uncomfortable for all involved.
This paper is divided into five subthemes:  what is social identity difference?, power issues among researchers and the researched, techniques for doing social identity difference research, and researching across social identity difference and the “matching” paradigm.

Anderson, M. L. (1993). Studying across difference: Race, class and gender in qualitative research. In J. H Stanfield and R. M Dennis (Eds.), Race and ethnicity in research methods (pp. 127-138). London: Sage. Lincoln, Y. S.,& Denzin, N. K. (2003). The seventh moment: Out of the past. In N. K Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The landscape of qualitative research: Theories and issues (pp. 611-640). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Phoenix, A. (1994). Practising feminist research: The intersection of gender and 'race' in the research process. In M. Maynard and J. Purvis (Eds.), Researching women's lives from a feminist perspective (pp. 49-71). London: Taylor & Francis. Twine, F. W. (2000). Racial ideologies, racial methodologies, and racial fields. In F. W. Twine & J. W. Warren (Eds.), Racing research, researching race (pp. 1-34). New York: New York University Press.

Aleksandra Przegalinska,
Kozminski University, Poland

Enactivism as an approach to social cognition.
The example of how social cognition of artificial intelligence impacts the organization of work.

My project will be devoted to social interaction between decision support systems and employees/members of the organizations that implement them. The research should be understood in the context of the ongoing process of introducing artificial intelligence in the area of social interaction with people, with particular emphasis on the interactions in the professional sphere (business, strategic management).

Expert systems (expert systems - ES), including decision support systems (DSS) are a perfect example of implementation of the demands of artificial intelligence by simulating human behavior based on formal models. The expert system is defined as a set of computer programs that use the database and models of knowledge and inference rules in order to solve problems. It has to reflect the processes of human decision making process. The basic functions of expert systems include data interpretation, anticipating the consequences of decisions, diagnosis, monitoring, control the behavior of the system and the storage and use of the acquired knowledge.

For this project following three key question groups are relevant:

a) Can we talk about traces of social intelligence in the DS- systems? In what way and to what extent is it developed? How does it manifest itself in interactions with human co-workers?

b) How does the interaction with decision support systems that are implicitly employing representative variety of social functions influence social cognition of the co-workers?

c) What effect does the socialization of expert systems on the organization of work and above all cooperation?

Social cognition is a well-established concept in social sciences, referring to the way people select, interpret and use the information needed to formulate judgments and decisions on the social world (see also: Fiske & Taylor 1983, 2013, Tomasello 1993, Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, Sulloway 2003, McCarthy, Wright 2004). Is also defined as the ability to collect relevant information and express adequate social behavior as a response to socially relevant stimuli - such as interactions with other individuals, artifacts, and institutions (De Jeagher 2013 ). For the purpose of this study enactive approach to interaction was selected, as a dynamically developing field of cognitive and social sciences (De Jeagher & Di Paolo 2007, De Jaegher, Di Paolo & Gallagher 2010, De Jaegher & Froese 2009). This approach is new, but it draws on classical cybernetic system theory (see also: Amey 1979, Beer 1979, Kulikowski 1970).

Enaction is a promising and growing paradigm in cognitive and social science. It brings back the traditions of system and organization theory and revises them in an innovative manner. It postulates an in-depth qualitative research coupled with the results of neurocognitive experiments. However, there is no well-rounded proposal for an enactive account of social cognition yet. The enactive approach takes as its point of departure the organizational properties of living organisms that make them paradigmatic cases of cognisers. It sees the properties of living and cognitive systems as part of a continuum and consequently advocates a scientific program that explores several phases along this dimension. Core ideas that define the enactive paradigm are the mutually supporting concepts of: autonomy, sense-making, embodiment, emergence, and experience (Di Paolo, Rohde and De Jaegher Forthcoming; Thompson 2005; 2007; Varela, Thompson and Rosch 1991). Enactivism allows to reframe the problem of social cognition as that of how meaning is generated and transformed in the interplay between the unfolding interaction process and the individuals engaged in it. The notion of sense-making in this realm becomes participatory sense-making. The onus of social understanding thus moves away from strictly the individual only.  Enactivists carry out their research primarily at the micro level, in order to capture the most common patterns of social interaction in their manifold nature. This includes crucial for this research sphere of interactions with intelligent nonhuman agents.

Already a while ago Murray and Trevarthen conducted a study called Emotional regulation of interactions between 2- moth - olds and their mothers  (1985: 177-197). They referred to an account of our social capacities based solely on expressiveness that explained why babies become distressed when their previously very engaging mother suddenly sits very still and puts on an immobile, neutral face (Tronick, Als and Adamson 1979). However, for Murray and Threvarten it was more problematic to explain why when mother and baby interact via a double TV monitor, it seriously upset the baby when the live footage of his mother was suddenly replaced with a recording of her behaviour earlier in the same interaction. Here, we could be certain that it is not expressiveness that was lacking, but the ongoing engagement that has been unhinged. If this (the lack of contingency) disturbs the baby as much as the suddenly expressionless mother, something crucial must also be going on in the interaction process itself. Lack of social and emotional cohesion resulted in babies' stress or lack of interest. Now, translating it into the millieau of HCI, we may argue that interactive screen is not enough. A real coordinated inter-action needs to take place.

The task for this study is to show what level of interaction is possible when it comes to decision support systems, assisting employees in daily, essential for the organization of activities. There is no doubt that communication with intelligent systems will be more intense and will require increasing the competence of both parties. A careful examination of how these interactions take place now to expose interaction patterns, which exist between man and technology, and in the future creatively expand them.

Janet Salmons
Capella University School of Business, USA 

Victoria Boynton,
State University of New York at Cortland, USA

Women Academics in the Cognispheric Workplace: A Digital Duoethnography

In the proposed session Drs. Salmons and Boynton will discuss the methodology, research approach and findings from a duoethnographic study conducted online. We designed this study to explore the influence of physical, geographical, cultural and virtual place on our work as teachers, researchers and writers. As women academics who teach online and collaborate internationally, we called traditional concepts of the academic workplace into question. Duoethnography, a qualitative approach introduced by Sawyer and Norris, is a dialogic scholarly approach that emphasizes individual writing, critical reading and deep mutual analysis of parallel texts (Sawyer & Norris, 2013). This methodology framed a process for meshing individual subjective reflections and objective reviews of each other’s work in an intersubjective, constant process of analysis. The study was carried out online using synchronous and asynchronous communications through email, Skype, blogs and a wiki.


Eve Shapiro in her 2010 book, Gender Circuits: Bodies and Identities in a Technological Age, says that “identities are not something people are born with, but rather are created through the process of narrating one’s life within a social context” (Shapiro, 2010, p. 99). The formative narrations of our lives tell us who we are and where we belong. They tell us our place. Through these self-making narrative iterations, our identities form. When we share these narrative processes with another and interrogate the complex narratives through digital duoethnographic research we can discover ways to meaningfully understand identity in a postmodern/posthuman world.

As a research team, we choose to consider our respective academic workplaces from perspectives as working women, as technologically-oriented university professors, as collaborative academics and as international traveler-teachers with a deep sense of home in local communities. We are interested in how the idea of place manifests in our work. We describe our workplace as postmodern, technical, international/non-national/ multicultural, posthuman (we are our machines), and tied to an antiessentialist, malleable notion of identity and academic community.

We are probably most interested in how online environments constitute workplaces.  We investigate how the digital workplace adapts to what appears within its confines, expanding and contracting with remarkable flexibility. We experience it is a variable space, an airy, electrical [geo]graphy, perhaps DIGI-graphical. We play with terms for this realm, adopting the term cognisphere over the sun-obscuring notion of cloud or mechanistic view of cyborg- in-space, cyberspace. Our evolving definition is characterized as a ubiquitous sphere of knowledge, thinking and collaboration.

The concept of the term cognisphere features prominently in N. Katherine Hayles predictive book, How We Became Posthuman. She says that the posthuman “involves a range of cultural and technical sites” (Hayles, 2006, p. 247) and questions singleness of identity and a singleness of place. It favors the mashup, bricolage and pastiche: the body-place no longer anchored to traditional notions of physicality.

We occupy the cognisphere as we discuss in ongoing online dialogue, where our work takes place: Dr. Salmons in Boulder, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, on airplanes or in cities across the United States or England. Dr. Boynton in Ithaca or Cortland, New York, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, Eskisehir, Turkey or Beijing China. We explore how this concept of place within the cognisphere allows us to connect site-to-site with unprecedented ease. Digigraphy translates the physical world into image-text-design—taking advantage of its inessential nature.

We work differently when we think of workplace in this different way. It allows us to transform the idea of place and of identity within place. Place no longer conforms or binds; it slips out of historical designations; it frustrates stereotypical ways of thinking about and describing ourselves. We feel a sense of becoming free of place—placeless, perhaps. Yet we feel connected to our communities, homes and are most creative in our own cozy offices. We question ourselves and each other about how we dwell in contradiction.

Virtual Duoethnography: Methodology and Method

Duoethnography, as described by Sawyer and Norris, is research “from the inside out” (Sawyer & Norris, 2013). Tenets include the intention to bracket subjectivity in, not out, foregrounding subjective identity since “self” is viewed as a research site, not topic (p. 15). And rather than considering “place” as physical location, “in duoethnography we attempt to understand and experience our sense of place… as evolved layered narratives of multiple cultures, landscapes and place identities” (p. 19). These tenets signified an ideal alignment with our research purpose.

The study unfolded through cyclical stages of writing, reflection, analysis and dialogue. We began with some initial questions:
What is work? Where do we do it? What is a workplace? What has workplace implied historically? Does where we work affect how we do it? Why?

Each wrote a narrative piece, sent to the other via email. Wearing our best professorial peer reviewer hats, we scrutinized each other’s work and made notes. As an initial level of analysis, we entered the individual narratives and a combined document into content cloud application (Cidell, 2010). The narratives, comments, and word clouds became the basis for an intersubjective dialogue over Skype, out of which emerged the themes for the next stage of writing.

Four such cycles took place throughout 2013 (Figure 2). The study culminated with collective analysis of the entire exchange.

To honor this “duo” research approach we will together present conceptual and methodological insights from this study, and discuss our findings. We will also suggest potential applications for this methodology in organizational and management research.

Cidell, J. (2010). Content clouds as exploratory qualitative data analysis Cidell Content clouds as exploratory qualitative data analysis. Area, 42(4), 514-523. Hayles, N. K. (2006). Unfinished work: From Cyborg to cognisphere. Theory, Culture & Society, 23(7-8), 159-166.  Sawyer, R. D., & Norris, J. (2013). Duoethnography. Oxford: Oxford Press. Shapiro, E. (2010). Gender circuits: Bodies and identities in a technological age. New York: Routledge.

Shapiro, E. (2010). Gender circuits: Bodies and identities in a technological age. New York: Routledge.

Figure 2. Cyclical process of duoethnographic writing

Giuseppe Scaratti, Elisa G. Liberati, Laura Galuppo, Mara Gorli
Catholic University of Milan, Italy

Working on organizational contradictions through narratives: A situated dialogic action-research case

1.    Introduction

The contribution describes a situated dialogic action research (Shotter, 2008, 2010) where we adopted narrative methods (Czarniawska, 2004) to identify organizational contradictions (Engestrom and Sannino, 2011) and develop collective reflection and change. The narrative methods, with their focus on the temporal and inter-subjective dimensions of sense-giving and sense-making processes, were used to shed light on the symbolic and implicit organizational order and contradictions. In the paper we describe such an approach and present evidences and data that show how practitioners, through storytelling, were helped to recognize, analyze and elaborate on their organizational contradictions in order to address and creatively deal with them. The paper ends up by highlighting some learning from the adoption of narrative methods following a logic of knowing and thinking from within (Shotter, 2018): their implementation asks for an explicit agreement among all practitioners, as well as an institutional alliance that legitimates the investment of tangible and intangible energies.

2.    Key concepts: contradictions and narrative methods

Storytelling and narrative reconstruction are ways through which people express, produce and reproduce their subjective position within their organization (Costantino, Green, 2003; Cunliffe et al., 2004). Through narratives and stories practitioners continuously interpret and give meaning to their experience. Moreover, narratives and stories, as social practices, are means through which practitioners interact with each others and dialogically negotiate reciprocal expectations and identities. Moreover, according to Engestrom and Sannino (2011), narratives and talks are the means through which organizational contradictions manifest themselves. Organizational contradictions are all the situations where “competing priorities or features need to be combined or balanced” (Engestrom , Sannino, 2011, p. 369). Contradictions characterize every organization and are potential sources of creativity and change. When not managed properly, however, they could lead organizations to paralysis. As contradictions are emergent and systemic phenomena, they cannot be directly accessed. They must be therefore approached by their manifestations, i.e. the ways in which practitioners articulate and construct them in words and actions: contradictions can have narrative manifestations and can take different forms. Working on organizational contradictions leads to organizational change and innovation, because their analysis allows to better highlight different voices and meanings and to potentially generate creative directions for change.

Our main hypothesis is that linguistic manifestations of contradictions can be considered as specific (albeit not exclusive) expression of situated  knowledge: from a procedural perspective (Czarniawska, 2008), this kind of knowledge is developed  through practice, action and social relations within a dynamic process that involves subjects knowing, learning and organizing. From this viewpoint, to identify contradictions mean to be focused on subjects’ practical organizational experiences, which meaning s are predominantly non-formal and implicit, concerning what people take for granted in their daily practices (their tacit and embedded knowledge). The analysis of linguistic manifestations of contradictions pertains to an epistemology of working, where social practices represents the raw material for an inquiry process related to experience, discourse and objects.

In our situated dialogic action research, therefore, the aim was to help practitioners work on the narrative manifestations of the main contradictions characterizing their organization, in order to reflexively sustain the possibility to deal with their changing organizational identity and modify its practices.

3.    The situated dialogic action-research

The context of the intervention was an Italian Local Health District (ASL) situated in the city of Milan; specifically, the intervention took place in the Addiction Prevention Unit, which was going through an organizational downsizing process and was therefore forced to suddenly rethink its long standing prevention-based mission. We shared a learning process based on subjects’ practical organizational experiences. Fifteen professionals engaged in prevention projects, the Service director and one administrative worker took part in the intervention. The experience took place during eight intensive sessions between July 2012 and December 2012, with the negotiated aim to jointly reexamine the Service identity, challenged by new internal and external requests.

In a first phase, we proposed a story-writing exercise, asking the practitioners to focus on their working practices within the Service. Participants were given a narrative task, and they could choose one among  the following  three options: (1) Narrate recurrent situations which demanded the modification of their working practices; (2) Narrate their professional story in the service and its main turning points;

(3) Narrate events concerning the contradictions that characterized or had characterized the Service activity.
The narratives shaded light on several manifestations of contradictions:

  • Dilemmas. Recurrent dilemmas dealt with the choice between the desire to expose oneself and to abstain, to accept the challenge or to give up, to stay or to leave,….
  • Conflicts were found with regard to several issues: control vs. delegation processes; resistances towards task and responsibility assignation; divergent ways to communicate and collaborate with the colleagues.
  • Double binds: a contradiction emerged between the expressed need for effectiveness and the drastic resources cutback, which was generating powerlessness feelings and inability to act.
  • Critical conflicts: practitioners felt to be forced to make opportunistic choices and perceived to be subject of homologating forces.

After the emergence of such a huge corpus of data, in a second phase, practitioners were asked  to share their stories for developing a collective reflection facilitated by the researcher. Participants were therefore asked to elaborate on their stories, by focusing both on their aesthetical dimensions (how do people make meanings about what they do and what they live) and on their ethical dimensions (which are the shared rules and the social order that people implicitly respect in order to act in an accountable and comprehensible way).

Finally, in a third phase, three smaller groups discussed and agreed upon which practices could be considered essential and distinctive of the Service identity, taking into account also a desired future scenario. The groups reflected on new possible ways to shape and perform those practices in the new, transformed context.

4. Discussion and conclusion 

The paper highlights how the use of narrative methods revealed itself as a powerful choice. The narrative forms manifested in plural and polyphonic texts that were similar to pre-narrations (Boje 1995; 2001): sometimes, they were overt, tied to different interests, and correlated with power dynamics; other times they were implicit. Participants appreciated the possibility to narrate themselves in a “safe space”, being surprised by the richness and the concrete value of their narrative repertoires (metaphors, irony, ways of speaking, stories, etc..): at the end, they interpreted them as gifts they could give to each other and recognized the narratives’ power to enhance the group ability to deal with the challenges that their organization was facing. This remarks  the ‘diegetic’ aspect of narrative, that is a discursive time-space in which stories are not just chronologies, but situated and responsive performances (Cunliffe et. al., 2004, p. 273).

Nevertheless, the adoption of such perspective requires a careful check of several organizational conditions. Narrative methodologies ask for an explicit agreement among all practitioners, as well as an institutional alliance that legitimates the investment of tangible and intangible energies. The participants willingness to engage in the production of texts, documents, stories and accounts must not be taken for granted. The cost and resource consuming nature of such an effort must be carefully taken into consideration.

Boje  D.M.  (1995), Stories of the Storytelling Organization: A Postmodern Analysis of Disney as ‘Tamara-land’, Academy of Management Journal, 38, 4: 997-1035. Boje D.M. (2001), Narrative Methods for Organizational & Communication Research, Sage, London. Costantino T.E., Green J.C. (2003), Reflections on the Use of Narrative in Evaluation, American Journal of Evaluation, 24, 1, pp.35-49. Cunliffe A.L., Luhman J.T., Boje D.M. (2004), Narrative Temporality: Implication for Organizational Research, Organization Studies, 25(2), pp. 261- 286. Czarniawska B. (2004), Narratives in Social Science Research, Sage, London. Czarniawaska B. (2008), A Theory of Organizing, Edwar Elgar, Celtenham, UK,. Engeström Y., Sannino A. (2011), Discursive manifestations of contradictions in organizational change efforts. A methodological framework. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 24, 3, pp. 368-387. Shotter,J. (2008), Conversational realities revised: Life, language, body and world, Taos Institute Publications, Taos, NM. Shotter,J. (2010). Situated dialogic action research: Disclosing ‘beginnings’ for innovative change in organizations. Organizational Research Methods, 13, 268-285.

Yvonne Senne
Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa

Qualitative research within South African higher Education: A researcher’s individual PhD journey

The purpose of this research paper is highlight the challenges that I faced as qualitative researcher within South African higher education and the myths I had to disprove in my journey as a PhD candidate. The study begins with my application for PhD candidacy, the defence of my proposal, and lastly the issues faced with the finalisation of my research including assessment. The paper highlights the importance of context in this case the South African context of white male dominated scholarship and also the influence of the dominant and preferred approach, quantitative approaches in my journey. It also illuminates the challenges I faced with scholars who used a quantitative lens to assess my research. This journey was further complicated by my choice of a complicated and uncomfortable research topic that was perceived as questioning the essence of the dominant research culture in South African higher education.

The researcher is a black South African woman who had lived her entire life in South Africa and therefore was in a position of an insider trying to look from outside. This position was precariously compromised me as researcher and naturally my intentions were always under scrutiny. The fear that I experienced was the risk of my subjectivity contaminating my research or worse still I thought that there is a possibility of the research being perceived as politically motivated and biased. The purpose of this paper is to share my research journey and to provide insights on how I used my research methodology to strengthen my research project. The paper will also provide reflections on the lessons learned and how my journey contributed towards my development as a qualitative researcher and a scholar.


The paper provides a brief background of my PhD journey, my research topic, the motivation for my choice of qualitative research. The paper will also provide a description of my journey from the conceptualisation of the research to project to the final assessment of my thesis. The challenges I faced as a qualitative researcher in positioning my research within the world of scholarship are illuminated. The perpetual challenge to defend my credibility in an academic world that uses a positivist lens to critique qualitative research was discussed.


The findings suggested an existing bias towards qualitative research that puts a burden on qualitative researchers to continuous prove their credibility. The paper also shares the researcher’s lessons and suggests mechanisms aimed at improving credibility and trustworthiness. It aims stimulating debate and possible sharing different practices which may assist qualitative researchers to learn from each other and enhance their own research skills.

Limitations of the paper

The paper is based on the experiences of one researcher; the contextual factors highlighted are not necessarily universal. It provides limited scope for comparison.


Few South African studies have been conducted in this area, therefore this paper enables the researcher to share and possibly learn from the advanced scholars focusing on a similar topic. It might also stimulate debate that may encourage more discussion on the topic.

John Shotter
University of Leeds, UK 

Relational Subjectivity:
Recovering our Living Relations to our Surroundings

“All my knowledge of the world, even my scientific knowledge, is gained from my own particular point of view, or from some experience of the world without which the symbols of science of science would be meaningless... we must begin by reawakening the basic experience of the world, of which science is the second order expression... return to that world which precedes knowledge, of which knowledge always speaks, and in relation to which every scientific schematization is an abstract and derivative sign-language, as is geography in relation to the country-side in which we have learnt beforehand what a forest, a prairie or a river is” (Merleau-Ponty, 1962, pp.viii-ix).

“On the one hand, the conceit of nations, each believing itself to have been the first in the world, leaves us no hope of getting the principles of our Science from the philologians. And on the other hand the conceit of scholars, who will have it that what they know must have been eminently understood from the beginning of the world, makes us despair of getting them from philosophers. So, for purposes of this inquiry, we must reckon as if there were no books in the world” (Vico, 1968, para. 330).

What is it like find oneself in a world which can be spoken of in countless different ways, but in which official texts around us speak of in only a limited number of ways? What might the world have been like before we could distinguish between literal and metaphorical ways of talking and thinking — that is, before we distinguished between ways of thinking based in literate, written, stabilized ways of thinking, recorded in books, and those ways of thinking in which we say that it is like something else that we have already experienced and is familiar to us (but it is also different from it, and like something else as well)? What is it like to think or to act in a more participative fashion, in relation to movements of feeling aroused within us, bodily, by the expressions of other agencies than ourselves, rather than always feeling the need to fit our experiences into our own, pre-existing, conceptual frameworks, frameworks that we often need to acquire as the result of a special training? In other words, what is it like not to disconnect our performed act from the unique and unitary context in which it is performed, thus to be sure that how we are acting is both fitting (and ethical) within that context? Compared with, taking it that there is, in fact, a wholly worded way in which to describe a happening event, unconnected with our lived experience of it?

Central to the new realm of inquiry that I want to introduce is the fact that, as living beings, we live bodily immersed within an oceanic world of ceaseless, intra-mingling currents of activity — many quite invisible — currents of activity which in fact influence us much more than we can influence them. We are not like machines with already well-defined inputs, leading to equally well-defined outputs, unresponsive to the larger contexts in which we must operate. We are much more like plants growing from seeds, existing within a special confluence, rooted within the chiasmic intra-acting (Barad, 2007, 2013) of many different flowing streams of energy and materials that our bodies are continually working to organize in sustaining us as viable human beings.

The acquisition of this awareness of certain very general characteristics of human life and experiences in the (always still developing) course of our first language learning, is crucial to all our activities as members of a particular social group, as members of a culture. Yet, strangely, although we cannot get outside it to determine its nature objectively, just because it determines for us our most basic ways of making sense of events occurring around us — what we find ourselves feeling at any one moment as familiar to us and what is bewildering, what is real and matters to us and what is illusory, and so on — we can come to know its nature indirectly, by comparing and contrasting its nature here with its nature there, at different times in different places.

Just as we are can come to know our way around within a new city, by exploring it increasingly, in all its detail, we can get to know of its nature from the inside, differentially. We think we can get from A to S via F, only to find the way blocked by a still undiscovered river; we then search for a bridge and an alternative route (for we take it for granted that, as in other cities  (look at note), people build bridges over rivers). And this is the case for us all, not just as leaders, but as ordinary persons acting in the everyday world around us: we continually have to act into an uncertain, ‘fluid’ future, while at the same time assuming that if one way forward proves impossible, another can quite readily be found. 

In adopting this insider’s approach, we must give up Descartes’ (1968) vision of a world of an already pre-established world of ‘particles of matter in motion according to already existing laws’ — a world in which he had hoped that we could become, with the appropriate methods of rational thought, “masters and possessors of nature” (p.78) — and embrace instead the very strange new world of our ordinary, everyday social lives together in which there are no such pre-existing ‘some-things’ which are separate from anything else. For it is a world in which every ‘thing’ is always in movement , in both senses of the word, i.e., as always moving along within a larger movement, as well as moving within itself.

Thus the conceptual shift required is a profound one; everything changes; many basic assumptions will need to be reversed. Indeed, we would like to switch, if we could, to a verb-based language away from our noun-based way of talking; to a language in which many ‘things’ would be known to us in terms of their dynamical appearances within our surroundings instead of in terms of their static forms. Rather than merely in terms of our finalized experience of them, we need to know them in terms of our experiencing of them; for it is in their still open, unfinished unfolding that they arouse a felt tension within us, a uniquely particular feeling, that can both motivate our next step as well as guiding us in our execution of it in relation to our surroundings.

As Bakhtin (1993) puts it: “To those who wish to think participatively, it seems philosophy, which ought to resolve ultimate problems..., fails to speak of what it ought to speak. Even though its propositions have a certain validity, they are incapable of determining an answerable act/deed and the world in which it is actually and answerably performed once and only once” (p.19). This is because, “the theoretical world is obtained through an essential and fundamental abstraction from the fact of my unique being and from the moral sense of that fact — ‘as if I did not exist’. And this concept of being is indifferent to the central fact — central for me — of my unique and actual communion with Being (I, too exist)... it cannot determine my life as an answerable performing of deeds, it cannot provide any criteria for the life of practice, the life of the deed, for it is not the Being in which I live, and, if it were the only Being, I would not exist” (p.9).

It is our ignoring of the unique particularity of these motivating and guiding feelings that is our crucial mistake in management and organizational research — concerned, as it is, only with theoretical generalizations — a mistake that cannot be rectified by the provision of objective descriptions, no matter how detailed or complex they may be.

Bakhtin, M.M. (1993) Toward a Philosophy of the Act, with translation and notes by Vadim Lianpov, edited by M. Holquist. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Barad, K (2007) Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham & London: Duke University Press. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962) Phenomenology of Perception (trans. C. Smith). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Vico, G. (1968) The New Science of Giambattista Vico. Ed. and trans. by T.G. Bergin and M.H. Fisch. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. Wittgenstein, L. (1953) Philosophical Investigations, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Blackwell.

Elizabeth Siler
Business Administration and Economics Department
Worcester State University, USA

Emily T. Porschitz
Department of Management
Keene State College, USA

Miscarriage and Negative Space: Using Autoethnography to Research
Taboo Topics

In writing autoethnographic accounts of our pregnancy losses at work, we explored the absence of miscarriage in the management and organization studies literature, and our own secrecy and silence about our losses—especially at work. The taboo against disclosing a miscarriage is so strong that it never occurred to us to tell anyone at work. Our automatic, unquestioned silence—our self-silencing at work—became the main focus of that research.

In this paper, we argue that autoethnographic methods can be especially useful in uncovering the “negative space” occupied by topics and experiences that are taboo. Taboo topics can be difficult to research. There is pain surrounding these topics, and research participants often don’t have experience talking about them. We can often recognize the taboo subjects and silences that surround them, but digging further, in their lasting meanings and effects, can be difficult (Gatrell, 2011).

As we explored our own miscarriage experiences by writing our stories, and interviewing each other many times over the course of over two years, we marveled at our continued uncovering of the complicated and myriad ways in which we continued to remain silent about our miscarriages. The concept of “negative space” emerged as a better word than “silence” for the words we were still not speaking. The negative space occupied by our miscarriage experiences shifts and morphs around the rest of our lives, pushing and pulling our personal and work relationships—and our careers—in ways we continue to struggle with.

In this paper, we describe the process of analyzing our data to contribute to the academic discussion about pregnancy and pregnancy loss at work. We began with (what we later learned to be) a surface reading: making the case that miscarriage is a workplace event; making connections to the concept of “disenfranchised grief,” which is grief that has no societally sanctioned outlet (Hazen, 2003); documenting the minimal mentions of pregnancy loss in the management and organization studies literature (Gatrell, 2011; King & Botsford, 2009; Rowlands & Lee, 2010). 

We then describe how comments from reviewers and our own sense that “something was missing” from the first version of the paper took us to the concept of self-silencing (Jack & Dill, 1992). This led to a model of “surface” and “deep” (Simpson & Lewis, 2005) conceptualizations of miscarriage at work, where we realized that the “deep” reading was the missing piece. An early version of our paper was nearly all a surface reading of the “state” of (the invisibility of) miscarriage at work, both in the literature and at work. “Deep” reading addresses the processes that work to maintain the status quo, which in this case is the silence and self-silencing about miscarriage at work. To quote, “the power of discourse in suppressing and silencing competing meanings” (Simpson & Lewis, 2005: 9).

However, this led us to another problem that we describe: how do you analyze competing discourses when the “discourses” are silence and self-silencing? How do you write about competing discourses when there are no words to analyze? Negative space is the white space in typography, the sky behind tree branches in winter, the spaces between boards on a picket fence.

It is the part left blank, the emptiness that becomes visible when you switch focus: when the foreground becomes the background. We see the silence of miscarriage as a kind of negative space: only visible when what is not silent becomes the background.
Over time, we realized that we could analyze our miscarriages by searching out the events that would enable us to make our silences visible. We found a way to bring the silences to the foreground by comparing our experiences to other workplace events. These events are related to our miscarriages, but not about them, separated by time and topic.

This process of finding comparator incidents took place over months, and it was only possible because we were analyzing our own lives and experiences. We could (gently) push ourselves for answers and connections, for the reasons behind our reasons, far harder than we ever would push another person, and over a longer period of time. For us, any emotional pain we experienced was therapeutic; we knew that we would be creating knowledge, furthering our careers, and eventually, we hoped, making it easier for others to talk about miscarriage at work. In addition, we are friends as well as colleagues, which made the discussions easier than they might be with a researcher who is a stranger.

Gatrell, C. 2011. Policy and the pregnant body at work: Strategies of secrecy, silence and supra-performance. Gender, Work & Organization, 18(2): 158-181. Hazen, M. A. 2003. Societal and workplace responses to perinatal loss: Disenfranchised grief or healing connection. Human Relations, 56(2): 147-166. Jack, D.C., & Dill, D. 1992. The silencing the self scale. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 16: 97-106.  King, E. B., & Botsford, W. E. 2009. Managing pregnancy disclosures: Understanding and overcoming the challenges of expectant motherhood at work. Human Resource Management Review, 19(4): 314-323. Rowlands, I. J., & Lee, C. 2010. 'The silence was deafening': social and health service support after miscarriage. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 28(3): 274-286. Simpson, R., & Lewis, P. 2005. An investigation of silence and a scrutiny of transparency: Re-examining gender in organization literature through the concepts of voice and visibility. Human Relations, 58(10): 1253-1275.

Robert Joseph Skovira
Robert Morris University 

Experience, language and the subjective/objective problem: A theory for agile ethnographic inquiry

Introduction. Experience as a human affair poses its own problem: how to observe and describe the experiencing, or the experienced, beginning as a felt something, a merely “had” event, and ending as something known, a reflected-on object-with-meaning (Dewey, 2008)? Is experience a subjective or objective state of affairs? Experiencing things is being aware of things (consciousness of, as some would have it), of re-marking about affairs engaged and encountered, people interacted with, situations participated, or lived, in, and describing and differentiating these objects; experience is a possible perspective (Ortega y Gasset, 1967) about living-in and observing and describing the goings-on of ordinary life and reflecting about them.

Problem and purpose. The problem for this essay is the uncertainty about the idea and meaning of “experience.” Is experience subjective or objective? Dewey (2008) presents “experience” as a way of describing and understanding life; originally, for him, a neutral idea. Martin (2001) uses “experience” as what is communicated and re-created in her ethnographic interviews as a means to studying women’s experiences of “reproduction” within her own society. “Experience” is a way of getting at meanings-in-use in a group or society. The purpose of this essay is to develop an idea of “experience,” a useful theory for grounding the practice of agile ethnographic inquiry. (I introduced and used the notion of “agile ethnography” at this conference in 2010 and 2012; confusion abounds because of the “meanings” of ethnography. I am using “agile ethnographic inquiry” in the hopes of mitigating this.) To do this, I will examine both John Dewey’s (1986, 2008) and Emily Martin’s (2001) theories of experience.

An experiencing observed and inscribed. It is a Friday morning, I have been up for some time (wake-up is 6 am). My wife, getting up from a night’s sleeping, talks about “indigestion” she is “experiencing,” which will not go away despite various remedies applied. My wife describes the “felt discomfort’ as “indigestion” and not as “pain.” We both realize that a decision has to be made; a trip to the ER of the local hospital. The reason for this, spoken-out-loud, is that heart-attacks in women show up sometimes as a “feeling,” an ineffable physical sensing, experienced and named as “indigestion.” A fateful decision which structures our experience, neither ordinary nor everyday, for the next 24 hours. So we go. I drop my wife off at the ER entrance and go to park the car. When I arrive back at the ER, my wife is nowhere to be seen, but secreted in a room. Not that she had a choice, because when she arrived, she announced that she was experiencing “indigestion.”

A discovered re-definition of situation. ER physicians and nurses have rules about certain words used to describe an everyday experience; in the medical meaning-system, certain words are not everyday, not ordinary, when used within an ER situation. The language game defining an experienced situation at “home” is not the language game in an “emergency room” situation. The word “indigestion” is a liminal word; it indicates a boundary of ideas and meanings, wholly dependent on the situation, and the meaning-system now in play. “Indigestion” is translated to “chest pain.” This shift triggers a set of practices, conjoined to a physical setting (the ER), which sees things according to a different web of meanings dominating the experience.

Episode continued. This episode provides a basis for the problematic of experience; for an inquiry into experience and its determination linguistically by members of a group; how the experiencing of an ineffable feeling is first named as “indigestion,” thus fixing it as objective. It is further objectified by re-naming the experience as “chest pain” which re-defines the situation (Polanyi, 1966) and the “experience” within the medical meaning-system. This initiates a set of procedures and tests, consequentially re-creating the experience as more real.

Martin’s notion of experience. Martin (2001) is also about determining experience.  She is more organized than I am in this essay. She wants to investigate, within her own society, women’s experiencing of menstruation, birth, etc, perhaps differentiating a certain class ideology, in ordinary living. She frames her discussion of women’s experiences, based on interviews, with the meaning-system and language of medicine as found in texts used in medical schools. She analyzes the system of meanings (ideology) in place, and learned (socialized into) by physicians and other medical personnel. She analyzes how (not if) this system of meanings (now solidified into an ideology – a form of medical consciousness) structures and fixes the ‘reproductive” experiences of women.

Dewey’s notion of experience. Dewy (1986, 2008) re-thinks the nature of experience; he splits it into primary and reflective experience. He tightly couples experience with language. He argues that language (in the forms of vocabularies in use by members of different groups)as a liminal apparatus between experiences “had” and experienced “known objects,” between mostly tacit events (he frequently calls them “mere”) and events as “objects-with-meaning.”

Back to the episode. In this situation, the mere feeling of discomfort (subjective) in one’s chest is just that, until the discomfort is called “indigestion,” (objective); then “Indigestion” is re-named, in the ER, as “chest pain” allowing an inference (objective) of a different web of meanings to be brought into play, controlling the body, and attitudes about what happens, about what the “experience” is. As stated above, this essay is an attempt at understanding and using “experience,” informed by situated webs of meanings, as the ground for doing agile ethnographic inquiry.

Dewey, J. (1986). Logic: The theory of inquiry. In J. A. Boydston (Ed.), John Dewey: The later works, 1925-1953 (Vol. 12: 1938). Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press. (Original work published 1938). Dewey, J. (2008). Experience and nature. In J. A. Boydston (Ed.), John Dewey: The later works, 1925-1953 (Vol. 1: 1925). Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press. (Original work published 1925). Martin, E. (2001). The woman in the body: A cultural analysis of reproduction. Boston: Beacon Press. Ortega y Gasset, J. (1967). The origin of philosophy. (Trans., T. Talbot). New York: W. W. Norton. Polanyi, M. (1966). The tacit dimension. Chicago: The University of Chicago.

Lukasz Sulkowski
Jagiellonian University, Poland
University of Social Sciences, Poland

Subjectivity in Organizational Identity Inquiry– Case of Auto-ethnography

My road toward auto-ethnography is based on the personal experience and personal reflections. More than 10 years that I spent in two Universities provide me deep understanding of cultures these organizations from the perspective of insider. But the use of these dense and subjective data seems to be very difficult. There are several epistemological, axiological, methodological and pragmatic limitations of using the knowledge coming out from insider perspective. Two most serious problems are connected to subjectivity (epistemology) and ethical limitation of auto-ethnographic inquiry (axiology). Subjectivity creates several serious epistemological challenges in making research of organizational cultures and identities. From one side seems to be a limiting factor for the open description of functioning culture. On the other side, subjective position that in organizational ethnography usually means participation, gives very deep and reflective image of cultural phenomena. The challenge of finding deep, complex reflection of organizational culture and identity by using anthropological approach needs position towards several dilemmas.

1.    Ethical challenge – describing existing organization that is usually easy to identify (it is almost impossible to make it anonymous), proves to be a moral challenge.

2.    Engagement challenge – the researcher could feel embarrassed to observe and describe his own and other people’s engagement in organizational life.

3.    Reflective challenge – the learning process is challenging because it is not easy to provide the self-assessment.

4.    Critical challenge – we have the tendency to identify with situation of the social actor and to be over-critical or just the opposite (too tolerant).

5.    Self-whitening challenge – we present the tendency to show our actions as pure and good.

6.    God’s perspective – we have the inclination to perceive our own point of view as objective and universal.

7.    Conformity – we are protecting our own interest having the stakes in the ‘social game’.

The main idea of the paper is to discuss the subjectivity problems of the auto-ethnographic method in organizational identity inquiry. Seeing the dilemmas it is also worth to see the epistemological but also pragmatic values of the auto-ethnographic approach. In the paper I try to identify the conditions of making the good auto-ethnography taking into account long-term, self-ethnography in two, very different Polish universities.

Auto-ethnography as a Method

Auto-ethnography is an approach to research that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience (Holman Jones, 2005). Auto-ethnography challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others (Spry, 2001). Auto-ethnography is a form of critique and resistance that can be found in diverse literatures such as ethnic autobiography, fiction, memoir, and texts that identify zones of contact, conquest, and the contested meanings of self and culture that accompanies the exercise of representational authority (Neuman, 1996, p. 191). One can define auto-ethnography as a self-narrative that critiques the situatedness of self with others in social contexts. Auto-ethnography is both a method and a text of diverse interdisciplinary praxes (Reed-Danahay, 1997). Auto-ethnographic writing resists typical theorizing and the facade of objective research that decontextualizes subjects and searches for singular truth (Crawford, 1996; Denzin, 1997).

The methodology is type of mainly subjective but also subjective ethnographic experience. I try to describe the organizational culture and identity of two polish university. The data used for this subjective description comes from two last years of systematic observation and participation in the activities of these units. The deepest insight is from self-reflection, but there is also conversational engagement. Two multiple case studies presenting very different types of organizational identity and culture are final result of the inquiry. The inter-play of identity of the researcher and organizational identity is also visible.

Two universities cases

Have been analyzed threads appearing in my self-reflection about organizational identity of two universities . University X is a private university, established in the mid-nineties of the 20th century, it grew from a business school to become one of the largest non-state universities in Poland, providing undergraduate, graduate and doctoral education in nearly thirty fields of study. University Y is a public university, with rich traditions, established scientific position, several thousand students in more than fifty disciplines. The universities are very different from each other, which is also reflected on the organizational identity level, especially if significant common issues are referred to. “Voice” X and Y is a type of self-reflection, coming out from my expressions of opinion during the conversations with other employees of two universities during last two years. The main concentration was on finding the most characteristic traits of organizational identities of those to universities.

About crisis
X: ‘When the crisis comes, deep cuts have to be made. One does not save on anything, neither on people nor the facilities’  
Y: ‘Each crisis can be waited over. You just need to delay its effects and try to keep the status quo’  
About the culture itself
X: ‘Effects, effectiveness, power’
Y: ‘Tradition, conservatism, groups of stakeholders’

About hope
X: ‘We are improving, keeping our market position, we will survive’
Y: ‘Closer and closer to the world’

About entrepreneurship
X: ‘The only chance’
Y: ‘Strangled by bureaucracy’

About manipulation
X: ‘Machiavelli rules, manipulators, with a tendency to autocracy and populism, win’  
Y: ‘In this jungle of interests, one never knows who is whose puppet’

About the so-called man’s dignity
X: ‘When you get kicked, you either stay on board or you take offence and leave’
Y: ‘Come on with this honour, what counts here are cliques and common interests’

About powerlessness
X: ‘It’s not worth trying, we have no chances, demographic low is too deep, in a couple of years we won’t have any students’
Y: ‘It’s not worth trying, the bureaucracy here just does not care, all it does is self-reproduction’

About power
X: ‘Centralized, strong, autocratic, proactive and fast reacting’
Y: ‘Dispersed, entangled in the network of interests, ceremonial, participatory, inert and reactive’

About promotion
X: ‘Arrange promotion to the dean’s position with the rector. The structure here is flat. Convince him that it will be beneficial for the university’
Y: ‘It is not so fast to get the professor’s position. First you need to submit an application, supported by the departmental chair, to the Director of the Institute, then you apply to the Dean. Next, after hearing the opinion of the Board of the Faculty supported by the appropriate committee, the position of the professor will be publicly announced. So, the promotion is certain, but you know… it’s academic life… you need to wait till things start to happen’

About re-(dis)organization
X: ‘Never-ending change in management, nothing can ever be completed till the end’
Y: ‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Re-organization on all levels, there is no one who can grasp it all. Each change goes its own way. Central, centrifugal changes as well as the ones in organizational units are mixed, while the system power does not change’

About rituals
X: ‘Does a business school need academic traditions?’
Y: ‘Rituals, ceremony, grandeur – build our identity but petrifies our thinking’

About the sense of stability
X: ‘We live in a liquid modernity, panta rei’
Y: ‘Public university, professor’s title, promotion to the professor’s position – it sounds like a pension plan’

About what’s valuable
X: ‘Market, client, money, development’
Y: ‘Academic tradition, Humboldt-type university, ethos of science’

Organizational identity
Individual and collective identity is one of the most important concepts used in modern social sciences and humanities. The concept of ‘identity’ itself is deeply rooted in the interpretative-symbolic paradigm, as it was commonly used by the creators of this current of modern thought, such as G.H. Mead and H. Blumer (Mead, 1975). The originators of symbolic interactionism described identity as the ‘concept of the self’ (Brittan, 1977, p. 102), a symbolic interpretation of individuals, referring to who they believe they are and who they would like to be (Tomé, Bariaud, 1980, p. 61), all subject constructs, referring to oneself, which is not a simple sum of the elements, but their synthesis (Bausinger, 1983, p. 337). ‘Identity’ is a significant notion for the social sciences, but it is ambiguous and forms a ‘family of words’ (François, 1980, p. 345). Of the extensive literature and research concerning identity, one has to mention the classics: G.H. Mead, H. Tajfel and J. Turner (Tajfel, Turner, 1979), and E. Goffman (Goffman, 1981). The interactionist understanding of identity stemmed from sociology, but with time, it spread to social psychology, cultural anthropology and management science. In each of these sciences it occupies a level characteristic of their research issues, for example, psychology is more concerned with individual identity, sociology and anthropology with collective identities, while management science with organisational identity.

The postmodern and critical approaches to the issue of identity developed together with post-structuralism, thanks to M. Foucault, J.-F. Lyotard, J. Derrida (f. ex. Foucault, 2000). The most important aspects of the postmodern understanding of identity are related to defragmentation, deconstruction, internal contradiction and paradox. On the other hand, the critical understanding, closely related to postmodernism, emphasises the understanding of identity as a kind of ‘prison’ for ‘ego’, which disciplines and sanctions the forms of expression. In the critical sense, identity, although disintegrated, can be subject to different forms of manipulation, which conceal the striving for dominance and wielding power (Czarniawska, Höpfl, 2002).

In management, the notion of ‘organisational identity’ is relatively new, appearing only in the 1980s and starting to spread at the end of the 20th century. Perhaps this is the reason why interpretative, postmodern and critical approaches to organisational identity are being developed at the same time.

Research into identity, conducted within social psychology and sociology, concerned the creation and development of the ‘social self’ by individuals. Should it be referred to the level of a collective actor, meaning the organisation?

Many researchers opt for transferring the notion of identity to the level of community, including organisations. R. Jenkins uses the notion of collectively shared identities (Jenkins, 1996). M.J. Hatch and M. Schultz, referring to G.H. Mead’s concept, claim that organisations have identities (‘subjective self’ and ‘objective self’) (Hatch, Schultz, 2004, p. 380). J. Dutton and J. Dukerich describe the process of the reflection of organisational identity in the organisation’s image (Dutton, Dukerich, 1991). Thus, one can see that the concept of identity is becoming rooted in the theory of management science.

Organisational identity is the answer of organisation members to such questions as ‘Who are we as an organisation?’ and ‘Who we would like to be?’. If we assume that an organisation is something more than a collection of individual actions, it seems logical to look for the social manifestations of organisation such as culture, management, strategy and structure. Describing identity as a ‘symbolic, collective interpretation of people who form an organisation, referring to what organisation is and what it would like be’ seems clear. However, in order for the notion to be fruitful, it is necessary to distinguish identity from culture, image from organisational mission and vision.

In stable conditions, organisational identity remains the subject of a collective, often implied agreement. The issue becomes explicit only in case of tensions and changes, when the questions of key values re-occur and contradictory visions of the organisation’s development clash. S. Albert and D.A. Whetten postulated regarding the effects of research, being a result of a collective agreement and concerning values, organisational culture, action philosophy, orientation, market position, the domain of the activity, mission, vision and organisational membership, as manifestations of organisational identity (Albert, Whetten, 2004, p. 90). Thus, organisational identity should fulfil three key criteria: firstly, the criterion of determining key organisational features. Organisational identity should reflect its essence, the basic existential issues, around which the agreement between organisational members was built. Secondly, the criterion of differentiation: organisational identity is created when the organisation’s members feel distinct from others. They identify themselves with the organisation, define their boundaries, the criteria for membership and exclusion. Thirdly, the criterion of temporal continuity: an organisation is integrated by legal and managerial conventions, which are maintained thanks to the belief of organisational members and other people from the environment that there is a continuity of organisation’s existence, despite the occurring changes (Albert, Whetten, 2004, p. 90-91). These three criteria proposed by S. Albert and D.A. Whetten can be supplemented with the fourth. ‘Organisational identity’ is a supra-individual and social phenomenon (inter-subjective). The distinguishing sense of existence, maintained by the organisation members in time (esprit du corps) is a manifestation of the functioning of a social group, and not only of chosen individuals (such as owners, managers or other interested parties).

Is it possible to analyse the social aspects of organisation without the notion of ‘identity’? B.E. Ashforth and F. Mael suggest that the process of gaining social identity is the prerequisite for undertaking any group action. The ‘psychological group’ is defined in the categories of membership. Identifying oneself with a group is also the most important mechanism of participation. Of the manifestations of the emergence of social identity one can point to the group’s sense of difference, striving for its maintenance, and the group prestige  (Ashforth, Mael, 2004). The notion of identity is closely related to identification, which means identifying oneself with a group. Theories of social identification enrich the understanding of organisational identity. However, as it is in the case of most research into organisational culture and leadership, identifying oneself with the organisation used to be confused with the internalisation of its values and involvement. Identification with a group means identifying oneself with it, while internalisation is the acceptance and assimilation of values shared by the group. Identification with an organisation does not have to lead to the internalisation of the organisational values, while identification with the whole organisation does not condition identification with its members. Involvement refers to making a relatively large effort while working for the organisation, the source of which can be, but does not have to be, identification with a group. Distinguishing these three notions allows us to point to identification as a source of organisational identity, and to internalisation as a mechanism of its consolidation and spreading to trainees. Organisational identity is created in the processes of communication and negotiation of meanings, which implies it is strongly rooted on the level of groups and teams, while, according to many authors, its presence on the level of whole large organisations gives rise to theoretical problems (Albert, Whetten, 2004, p. 150). Thus, it seems that the topic of identity should not be omitted in the analyses of the organisation’s functioning. The remaining question is whether there is any purpose in the creation of the theory ‘organisational identity’, understood as a whole, and studying the processes of the creation, maintenance and changes of group identity.

Most researchers believe that the concept of organisational identity is rooted in the interpretative-symbolic paradigm. There are also many who think that although it is a concept stemming from symbolic interactionism, it can be interpreted within other cognitive perspectives as well. The functionalist paradigm treats organisational identity as an objective, material entity that can be managed and measured (Riel Cees, Balmer, 1997). The interpretative approach is related to treating identity as a network of meanings and social communication, being a subject of temporary and partial agreement of the organisational group. Identity management is pointless, but it is possible to manage the organisation, making use of the knowledge about changes within its identity. Postmodernist inspirations emphasise discontinuity, ambiguity and the vagueness of the categories of organisational identity, leading to fundamental cognitive and pragmatic limitations (Dunn, 1998). From the postmodernist perspective, organisational identity management seems to be a completely utopian project (Parker, 2002). A summary of the key differences between the ways organisational identity is understood within different cognitive approaches can be found in Table 2.

  Functionalist perspective Interpretative perspective Postmodern perspective
Key problem How does OI influence the activities of organisations and people? How do we socially create the sense of who we are (‘we’)? 1. Problematisation, breaking the continuity, defragmentation of the sense of identity.
Identity definition 1. Institutionalised belief in who we are.
2. Objective dimensions – aims, organisational rules, core activity.
Constantly socially renegotiated collection of meanings concerning who we are as an organisation. Temporary and fragmented reflection on who we believe we are as an organisation.
Basic assumptions 1. OI is a social fact.
2. OI is objective, observable and can be manipulated.
1. People need to agree on stable meanings.
2. OI is constructed socially.
3. Social groups strive for OI by agreeing on common meanings.
1. Vagueness of meanings. 2. OI is a random and temporary collection of meanings.
3. OI takes the form of a paradox.
4. Multiplicity and diversity.
The aims of research into OI 1. To discover
2. To describe
3. To measure
4. To use (manage)
To reveal the senses and structures of the creation of meanings, negotiated between the organisation members. 1. To provoke
2. To encourage reflection
3. To give voice to ‘the silent’
Data 1. Observing the activities that influence OI
2. Analysing statements
3. Demographic studies
4. Psychometric data
1. Data significant to the organisation members - symbols
2. Data significant to researchers:
- symbols
- interpretation patterns
1. Language and discourse
2. Cracks, discontinuity
3. Lacks, absence
Consequences 1. The key significance of OI – key values and beliefs are instilled
2. The permanence of OI – it is difficult to change
3. Distinction through OI – accepted and manageable
1. The key significance of OI – a group agrees on key meanings
2. The permanence of OI – social context determines the permanence
3. Distinction through OI – introduction of categories of similarities and differences
1. The key significance of OI – it is constantly changing
2. The permanence of OI – it is constantly deconstructed and reconstructed
3. Distinction through OI – respect for ‘others’, fragmentation
Metaphors 1. Subject
2. Assets, resources
1. Brain: hologram
2. Improvisation on a scene
Collage – a combination of unexpected elements

Source: based on D.A. Whetten, P.C. Godfrey (ed.), Identity in Organisations. Building Theory Through Conversations, Sage, London 1998, pp. 42-43.

Assuming such a way of thinking and distinguishing organisational identity allows us to use the concept of ‘identity’ in management. But is applying the concept of organisational identity together with the already rooted notion of organisational culture promising in cognitive terms? It is worth considering the applications of the organisational identity concept. Organisational identity is a manifestation of the organisational community’s attempts at broadening their influence and, at the same, a reflection of the internal game of interests. This is why it is unstable, changeable and expressed in different ways, depending on the context. This is reflected in the concept of multiplicity and flexibility of organisational identity (Hatch, Schultz, 2004, pp. 4-5). M.G. Pratt and A. Rafaeli propose a multi-layer concept of organisational identity, the manifestation of which is the research into organisational symbols and artefacts, such as clothes and dress (Pratt, Rafaeli, 2004). D.A. Gioia, M. Schultz and K. Corley describe the ‘adaptive instability’ of the ways organisational identity is defined, which on the one hand, provides for maintenance of the continuity of the sense of belonging to the organisation, but on the other, to prepare for changes in the environment (Gioia, Schultz, Corley, 2004). Identity work can be found in all organisational interactions, in the form of a routine maintenance of the existing patterns of action, as well as their interpretation and radical changes (McDermott, Church, 1976). The research conducted by N. Monin and B. Czarniawska-Joerges explore the concept of the narrative creation of organisational identity (Monin, 2004, pp. 190-191) . Another promising idea is the analysis of the relationships between the creation of power, organisational control and identity (Alvesson, Willmott, 2004), as well as between communication and identity (Cheney, Christensen, 2004).  References on request.

Sarah J. Tracy, Shawna Malvini Redden, Margaret Brooks,
Louise Clark, Phil Mulvey, Michael Shafer & Elizabeth Hall
The Hugh Downs School of Human Communication,
Arizona State University, USA 

Toward a meaningful, multi-sited, big-data qualitative data analysis

Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.

– Tweeted in 2013 by Dan Ariely (professor at Duke and renowned author)
In this presentation, we share the challenges, joys, tips, and best practices to emerge from the qualitative arm of a large, multi-sited, federally funded, mixed-methods, field intervention, facilitated organizational change study featuring evidence-based practices (EBPs) in criminal justice and substance abuse treatment contexts. Evidence-based practice — common in health and criminal justice field — suggests that practical decisions should be made in line with published research studies (not by gut feeling, whim or ease). Although EBPs typically emphasize quantitative results, qualitative data and expertise were specifically sought out for this series of implementation studies.  

In terms of initial design, the 12 principal investigators recognized the promise of mixed methods, even as they were not intimately familiar or experienced with qualitative research and methodologies themselves. Those more expert in qualitative research were recruited to help in the project’s execution and analysis. As critical organizational communication scholars new to large scale, highly structured, multi-site, mixed methods projects, we learned a new language and collaborative techniques as we carried out the interviews, managed and coordinated data analysis with ten research settings, and attempted to make the data meaningful for a range of mostly mixed- methods manuscripts dubbed “big quant–small qual” publications. 

In this presentation, we provide a relatively unknown story of what qualitative research looked like in a “big data” project. From this story, we develop cautionary tips and best practices.

Data were collected by collaborators at ten different research centers across multiple sites, each with one or more community partner, and related to three different studies. The focus of the studies was improving one or more aspects of medicated-assisted treatment, assessment of offenders’ need for substance abuse treatment, and access and referral to HIV testing/educational services. Each research center managed local teams dedicated to implementing inter-agency change related to the various topics. These teams included an external change facilitator, organizational team leader, and team of organizational participants where the change was taking place.
Each of the protocols called for multiple interviews of participants involved in each arm of the study.  Some individuals completed as many as 3 qualitative semi-structured interviews — including before, during, and after the change intervention. Although there is still no firm count, we estimate that the project includes more than 700 interviews, which will likely equate to about 10,000 pages of interview transcript data.  Furthermore, many of the facilitator-led team meetings were recorded, providing for field data of the change including logs of facilitator contact, notes about meetings, and audio files of change team meetings.

In order to facilitate the management and analysis of this qualitative data, about two years into the five year project, the grant team convened a qualitative sub-group spearheaded by one of the principal investigators. This group was tasked to develop, coordinate, and enforce cross-site qualitative guidelines by which every center was to abide. 

Our qualitative cross-site group coordinated how to format resulting interview transcripts and developed guidelines for de-identifying the data, both at the level of the individual respondent, but also at the site or organizational level The mandate to de-identify was inhereited as a remnant from some research sites’ IRB policies.  Unfortunately, the de-identification of the interview transcripts made it impossible to link the qualitative data to the quantitative findings (which limited one of the main potential strengths of the larger study). Research centers found creative ways to find other types of qualitative data (e.g., journal entries by facilitators; team minutes, archival document analysis) in order to reintroduce qualitative data to the study at a site level.

Another primary decision of the cross-site qualitative team revolved around choices about and logistics for handling qualitative data analysis software. The team wanted to create a single database with all the de-identified transcripts, so using same software seemed most efficient. The group chose Atlas-ti. Many centers were already using this software, and therefore it the most budget-friendly and user-friendly to the majority of the participants. Centers not using the software acquired it, and with some hiccups, were able to get up to speed.

Sharing all the interview transcripts was another part of the process. To do so, we designated technical qualitative leads for each research center, for each of the three protocols. The technical leaders were in charge of gathering all of the de-identified transcripts from the research centers and coordinating (uploading) them into the master ATLAS-ti database. Challenges included finding mistakes in de-identification, and how best to fix these when they were uploaded anonymously.

The qualitative protocol leads also convened conference calls with qualitative research representatives from each of the research sites in order to develop codes for the data. Coding processes differed across the three studies with one protocol following an extensive iterative, inductive process of developing codes grounded in the data, and the other two protocols using a deductive, interview question-driven, (and therefore less lengthy) process to generate codes. Over a series of several months, the qualitative protocol leads worked with center representatives on group coding exercises to ensure coding consensus. Then, the individual centers coded their data, sent it to the technical lead, who bundled it all together into a single database—a process that took over six months. In chunks and over time, the database was released to each of the sites for secondary analysis. 

Five years later, the technical leads on the project have spent hundreds of hours managing logistics, checking on de-identification, following up on coding, and reformatting the data so that it works technically in the software program. Members are now engaging in secondary coding, interpreting the conceptual meaning in the qualitative data, and analyzing how it works in concert with the quantitative data for understanding the success or challenges of facilitated organizational change. Furthermore, some “big qual” papers are being developed.

This presentation serves as a descriptive account of the challenges and best practices of engaging in big qualitative data analysis.  From these challenges, emerge several key lessons:

  • Mixed methods research studies will benefit from consulting qualitative expertise during the design of a project.
  • Qualitative data should be kept identified to increase its explanatory potential. Furthermore, when data is not identified, but must be shared with a central team, this results in an accountability problem. When data is not submitted or is submitted incorrectly, it is difficult to identify the source of the issue. If data must be de-identified, it should be done so after analysis and pre-publication.
  • Researchers should make careful decisions early on regarding the time allotted to various data analytic tasks. Each one hour of interview equated to about 20 hours of processing time. This results in very little time (at least during the grant-funded period) for interpretation and analysis—activities that are crucial for creating theoretically illuminating scholarship.
  • Qualitative researchers should carefully consider the necessity for sharing “all the data” before analysis proceeds. In this case, we estimate that 70% of the time spent on qualitative activities was on deidentification, software compatibility logistics, coding consensus, and cross-site guideline creation. Other options for collaboration could be local analysis on identified data, working across the teams on primary emergent findings and then analyzing how these findings meaningfully meshed and contrasted with one another (and with the quantitative data emerging at their site). 

Through this case, we were able to work through a number of challenges that we think would likely be common in many large mixed methods projects. As a result, we are able to share our practices, which will help as we and others embark on large mixed methods data set projects in the future. As a result of this project, we have a huge cross-site data set and, additionally, have found ways to use local identified data for in-depth qualitative only and mixed methods papers.

The funders and principal investigators of this project realized the possibility of qualitative research methods. This occasion is ripe with possibility and lessons learned to bring into future collaborative research projects. We as qualitative researchers are accustomed to and actually tend to celebrate beautiful messes. This is a rich one to play with.

Note: This study is funded under a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA), with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, US Department of Justice.  I gratefully acknowledge the collaborative contributions by NIDA; the Coordinating Center, AMAR International, Inc.; and the Research Centers participating in CJ-DATS.  The Research Centers include:  Arizona State University and Maricopa County Adult Probation (U01DA025307); University of Connecticut and the Connecticut Department of Correction (U01DA016194); University of Delaware and the New Jersey Department of Corrections (U01DA016230); Friends Research Institute and the Maryland Department of Public Safety Correctional Services' Division of Parole and Probation (U01DA025233); University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Department of Corrections (U01DA016205); National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. and the Colorado Department of Corrections (U01DA016200); University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Hospital and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (U01DA016191); Texas Christian University and the Illinois  and Virginia Department of Corrections  (U01DA016190); Temple University and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (U01DA025284); and the University of California at Los Angeles and the Washington State Department of Corrections (U01DA016211).  The views and opinions expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent the views of NIDA nor any of the sponsoring organizations, agencies, CJ-DATS partner sites, or the U.S. government.

Ilene C. Wasserman
Innovative Communities at the Workplace, USA

Participants as Collaborators: Engaging the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) to guide an Appreciative Cooperative Inquiry

We engaged in a study to explore the social and cultural dimensions of engaging social identity group differences in dialogue groups. So-called participants became collaborators in exploring what forms of engagement fostered transformative learning.  In this proposal, I share the design of the appreciative collaborative inquiry and the use of the Coordinated Management of Meaning as a heuristic that supports relational methodologies.

The Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM)

The Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) (Cronen, Pearce et al., 1982; Pearce, 2001a, 2004) provides a theoretical framework and practical tools for analyzing how people make meaning and how people in relationships coordinate meaning. The models may be used to facilitate a reflection as well as an analysis of what happens in the to’s and fro’s of communicating. The key concepts suggest that whatever we do, what meaning we make, is not along but in relationship or coordination with others. We choose what stories we tell or don’t, what stories we hear or don’t, in order to make our lives meaningful and bring coherence to ourselves and to our relationships. The complexity of the world within which we live suggests a sense of mystery and that there is always more to know. In instances where there is coordination, there is more likely to be coherence.  Where there is a lack of coordination, there is mystery. Our capability to coordinate our stories of each other and ourselves is enhanced by skills and tools that move us from mystery, to inquiry and curiosity, and to coherence

CMM describes four key models that serve as tools to help people surface alternative ways of viewing their perspective in relationship with others. Meaning is made by how one punctuates when episode begins and ends and the sequence of turns within. CMM provides a theory and specific models that describe the complex dynamics of the many ways that meaning continuously emerges in the turns and processes of conversations and speech acts (Cronen, 1995; Cronen, Johnson, & Lannamann, 1982; Pearce, 2001). This approach stands in sharp contrast to the view that communication consists of the sequential presentation of meaning from one interlocutor to another. The primary question CMM asks is, what kind of identities, relationships, episodes, and cultures are the patterns of communication producing as people interact with each other (Pearce, 2004).

Research on Transformative Dialogue

Two current methods has demonstrated different approaches. The collective identity encounters emphasized group identities and asymmetric power relations to empower members of minority groups and enhance the dominant group members awareness of the dynamics of power relations, yet lacked the personal relations to enable participants to move beyond their collective perspectives. (Maoz, 2001). The storytelling groups enabled personal relationships and the testing of stereotypic views of the “other” through the sharing of personal and collective histories (Maoz & Bar-On, in press).

The research described elevated the value of both personal and social identity group engagement.  The evaluation of these encounters was based on attitude change.  More recently, attention turned to the qualities of the discourse that was evident in these groups.  Through the analysis of transcripts of group encounters between Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians in a college course, researchers classified six categories of discourse through their observation and analysis.

The review of the Steinberg, Bar-On research was pertinent to this study both on the theoretical and methodological levels. On the theoretical level, this study was unique in that it identified discursive developmental stages in groups with a dialogic moment being one of those stages.  The study we are sharing built on those studies in identifying the enabling discursive processes by involving participants as collaborators in the process of making sense of the data.


The appreciative collaborative inquiry design, as well as the data analysis process, were informed by the heuristics of the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) and the principles of Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider, Barrett, & Srivastva, 1995; Ludema, Cooperrider, & Barrett, 1999). The questions explored were:

  • What happens in social identity groups with a history of conflict, when they are engaged in conversations to explore their identity stories?
  • What discursive processes help social identity group members stay engaged in the story of the other while being deeply committed to their own story? 
  • What makes a dialogic moment transformative in the engagement of deeply embedded stories of social group identity?

In some ways, this study resembled the approach taken in Rashomon, a Japanese film of the 1950s in which a crime was seen through the eyes of each of three participants (Kurosawa, 1951).  In the Rashomon story, the same tale is filmed three times, each time representing a different person’s perspective.  In this study, we explored episodes that members of groups in dialogue had experienced together, and invited the group members to reflect on those episodes from their own perspective.  This study involved groups of people meeting on a regular basis to explore social identity group differences. Both groups existed prior to the study and were organized for the purpose of exploring collective identity group differences.

Dialogic moments were operationalized and identified when meaning emerged in the context of the relationships, when one was willing to acknowledge and engage the other, and when there were emergent unanticipated consequences. The dialogic moment was identified as being transformative when there was an apparent willingness to be changed, influenced or to put one’s story at risk of change (Pearce & Littlejohn, 1997).

Episodes were constituted by a set of conversational turns or social exchanges of behavior (things said or things done) that were delimited in time with a clear beginning and endpoint (Pearce, 1994). The punctuation of an episode in terms of its beginning point and ending point was consequential to the interpretation; the boundaries selected influenced what contributed to the meaning made.  I influenced this meaning construction by the episodes I selected and the excerpts I chose to represent them.

This presentation will focus on the methodology as a form that makes relational sense-making central.

Amy K. Way
Department of Communication
Villanova University, USA

Robin Kanak
Department of Communication
Villanova University, USA

Sarah J. Tracy
Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
Arizona State University, USA

Engaging meaning in motion: Proposing a critical interview methodology

At its core, a critical ontology considers the social structures that contribute to inequity, digging beyond surface level explanations to examine the underlying assumptions that inform micro, meso, and macro-level discourses (Tracy & Wong, 2010).  But beyond investigating inequality, critical scholars are inspired to make change, to ask not only what is, but what could be.  From this imperative, we submit the following paper, which offers steps for a critical interview methodology, that highlights individuals’ shifting subjectivity and researchers’ active role in prompting critical reflection. The practice of interviewing reminds us of the ways people are embedded in a broader social world. In this paper, we turn a special focus on how interviewing also allows the opportunity to witness and influence participants’ construction of their own subjectivity over the course of a dialogue. 

The project draws exemplars from four independently conducted research studies to pinpoint instances where participants seemed to interrupt and be reflexive about their responses, sometimes rethinking or revising initial beliefs and opinions, even after an initial certainty or steadfastness of an espoused belief.  For example, one young boy, after espousing that he would never want to stay at home full time, suddenly realized that perhaps his future wife wouldn’t want to either. These “flickers of transformation” or moments of “self-questioning, talk repair, and transformation” (Tracy & Rivera, 2010, p. 14) served as the basis for our analysis, revealing moments of “meaning in motion” or the ways participants’ talk shifted on the spot to account for their uncertainty and the potentially unfinished or underdeveloped nature of their beliefs about a subject (p. 7).  These “flickers of transformation” illustrate “the ways in which scripts about the workplace, the family, and their intersections are produced in talk” (p. 30) and the ways those scripts might be disrupted or interrupted simply through the process of talking through them, as in the process of an interview.

Drawing from a critical perspective, this paper identifies specific practices in qualitative interviews that evoked reflexivity and transformation for our participants. Many qualitative scholars approach their craft with a basic assumption of reality as a communicative construction (e.g. Kvale, 1996; Holstein & Gubrium, 1997; Lindlof & Taylor, 2002; Tracy, 2013; Tracy, In press), but this social constructivist ontology is often lost in the practice of conducting research. Hyde & Bineham (2000) explain that, “while many of us understand this theory, far fewer of us live it. ... We spend much of our lives struggling with the way things ‘are,’ rather than savoring the malleability that a constitutive view of language, fully distinguished, might lend our world” (p. 214). The widely accepted practice of interviewing as a method for empirical research is still often treated as a reporting process where the truth is somehow ‘out there’ to be discovered, rather than constructed through interaction. From a communication transmission model (e.g., Grossberg, 1982; Corman, Trethewey & Goodall, 2007), an interview then is an exchange of existing information. And yet, such an assumption stands in contradiction to the social constructionist ontology so many scholars espouse. If we believe reality is socially, and specifically communicatively, constructed, it makes sense to view interviews as opportunities for meaning making and transformation in perspecives.

In this paper, we provide specific examples through which interviewers’ micro-level interactions created a space of critical reflection and their subsequent articulation of sensemaking-in-action around deeply held beliefs (or meso- and macro-level discourses). In doing so, we articulate a distinctive approach to interviewing—one that is rooted in the practice of dialogue that serves as mechanism to disrupt macro-level discourses as participants hear themselves articulate viewpoints that they are not sure they actually want to hold. We begin by considering similar methodological approaches that highlight the role of research-as-intervention, before articulating the importance of dialogue as a foundation for our approach. Dialogue encourages perspective-taking and non-judgmental engagement in order to achieve a deep understanding.  Critical approaches can be thought of as aggressive, but here we develop an approach that is critical yet dialogic (almost socractic) in which the participants themselves can explore their own assumptions and come to their own conclusions about “what should be”.

The paper closes with a typology of critical interview strategies for encouraging participant reflexivity. It is our hope that these strategies will serve as a guide for qualitative scholars and as an impetus for conversation about the value and process of a critical interview methodology.  Such an approach reminds us how participants are individuals embedded in a larger social narrative and that our relationship with participants influences their experience of their own subjectivity. 


Corman, S., Trethewey, A., & Goodall, H. L. Jr. (2007). A 21st Century Model for Communication in the Global War of Ideas: From Simplistic Influence to Pragmatic Complexity. Consortuium for Strategic Communication. Retrieved from Grossberg, L. (1982). Does communication theory need intersubjectivity? Toward an immanent philosophy of interpersonal relations. In M. Burgoon (Ed.), Communication Yearbook 5 (pp. 171-205). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Holstein, J. & Gubrium, J., (1997). Active interviewing. In J. A. Holstein and J. F. Gubrium’s Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice (pp.113-129). Sage Publications Ltd.  Hyde, B. & Bineham, J.L. (2000). From debate to dialogue: Toward a pedagogy of nonpolarized public discourse. The Southern Communication Journal, 65(2/3), 208. Kvale, S. (1996). InterViews: An introduction to qualitative research interviewing.  Thousand Oaks: Sage. Lindlof, T. R. & Taylor, B. C. (2002). Qualitative communication research methods 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Tracy, S. J. (2013). Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact.Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing. Tracy, S. J. (In Press, 2013). Buds bloom in a second spring: Storying the male voices project. Qualitative Inquiry. Tracy, S.J. & Rivera, K.D. (2010). Endorsing equity and applauding stay-at-home moms: How male voices on work-life reveal aversive sexism and flickers of transformation. Management Communication Quarterly, 24(3), 3-43. Tracy, S. J. & Wong, T. S. (2010). Can We Be Positive Yet Critical? Making a Case for the Study of Positive Emotion at Work. Paper Presented to the National Communication Association.

Julie Wilson
University of Leeds, UK 

Ontological Angst: why Critical Realism won’t do for justifying a mixed methodology PhD

Sitting at the back of a BAM workshop on Leadership and Research Methods, a fellow PhD researcher stood up and asked the eminent speaker how to justify using mixed methods in her PhD.  ‘Great’ I thought, “I need the answer to that question.”  The world-renowned professor put his head on one side, smiling ruefully and responded that he wasn’t able to do that, his role today was to give direction on how mixed methods in Leadership research could be conducted.  A collective sigh of disappointment echoed around the room where some 60% of its inhabitants were working towards their doctorates.  Some of my colleagues were content in their positivist or subjectivist positions, many of us were not; a few of us thought that maybe Critical Realism held the answer. 

My thesis aimed to resolve three problems concerning relational leadership and trust; how the two concepts interact, whether dimensions or elements of each are redundant and how context influences workplace relations between leader and follower.  The context chosen for the thesis was High-Tech Start-ups, based in Shoreditch, London.  This subject area lends itself to qualitative and quantitative approaches.  It examines perceptions from leader and follower perspectives of trust and relationship quality both of which are both emotive and profound, lending themselves to subjective, if not intersubjective exploration (Cunliffe, 2010).  At the same time, leadership and trust are described by well-established positivist models with an array of scales and survey items that attempt to quantify and define relationship variables through changes in inputs and outputs (Antonakis, Bendahan, Jacquart, & Lalive, 2010).   Either approach would have been acceptable (for eamples see Carsten & Uhl-Bien, 2012; Cunliffe & Eriksen, 2011; M Uhl-Bien & Ospina, 2012; Mary Uhl-Bien, 2006); neither approach, by themselves, felt adequate in terms of approaching and doing justice to the subject matter.  This pointed to a mixed methods thesis which brings with it ontological issues (Edmondson & Mcmanus, 2007).  One response to the issues was to adopt the convenient approach offered through Critical Realism (Hamati-Ataya, 2012).

This paper briefly explains the conceptual territory that applies to my PhD thesis as a basis for comparing Critical Realism (e.g. Kempster & Parry, 2011), Social Constructionism (Cunliffe, 2008) and Scientific Realism (Chakravartty, 2011).  I then chart an ontological and epistemological journey that regretfully eschewed Critical Realism on logical, theoretical grounds and finally found a stable, alternative position from which to proceed.  Finally, I justify my final philosophical destination for the project and suggest a way in which fellow doctoral students can find ‘home’, ontologically speaking, perhaps with less angst along the way.

Antonakis, J., Bendahan, S., Jacquart, P., & Lalive, R. (2010). On making causal claims: A review and recommendations. The Leadership Quarterly, 21(6), 1086–1120. Carsten, M. K., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2012). Follower Beliefs in the Co-Production of Leadership. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 220(4), 210–220. Chakravartty, A. (2011). Scientific Realism. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from Clark, A. M. (1998). The qualitative-quantitative debate: moving from positivism and confrontation to post-positivism and reconciliation. Journal of advanced nursing, 27(6), 1242–9. Retrieved from Cunliffe, A. L. (2008). Orientations to Social Constructionism: Relationally Responsive Social Constructionism and its Implications for Knowledge and Learning. Management Learning, 39(2), 123–139. Cunliffe, A. L. (2010). Crafting Qualitative Research: Morgan and Smircich 30 Years On. Organizational Research Methods, 14(4), 647–673. Cunliffe, A. L., & Eriksen, M. (2011). Relational leadership. Human Relations, 64(11), 1425–1449. Dietz, G., & Hartog, D. N. Den. (2006). Measuring trust inside organisations. Personnel Review, 35(5), 557–588. Edmondson, A. M. Y. C., & Mcmanus, S. E. (2007). METHODOLOGICAL FIT IN MANAGEMENT, 32(4), 1155–1179. Flinders, K. (2011). UK IT profession reaches all-time high, but training is reducing. Computer Weekly. Retrieved from
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Selorm Mensah Yevu
University of Hull, UK

The ‘referees’ are biased, further solidifying entrenched professional boundaries: an expository dilemma of interprofessional work in healthcare

The practice of teamworking in primary care among interdisciplinary medical-paramedical health professionals presents with varying depths of problematic dilemmas. This paper is an exposition on one such distinct dilemma drawn from an ethnographic fieldwork in a hospital.

For a typical tertiary teaching hospital setting with a decentralized system, the professional dilemma is one which is juxtaposed between the public, who somewhat serves as ‘referees’ through the social advocacy frameworks provided by the media and the society as the other. Interviews conducted with 57 healthcare professionals, examined thematically in addition to the public’s perceptions of these experts, depicts a contentious dilemma on ‘who is who’ and ‘who can influence governing health policies’ as vital capital tools one can wield. This study further supports the tangible organizational divide in healthcare between the; ‘the powerful’ and the ‘marginalized’, and who the latter turns to in attempts to bridge such capital gaps. This dilemma is expatiated through very strong legitimate professional turf protective boundaries from all parties involved in primary care; doctors, pharmacists, and nurses.

The multifaceted healthcare delivery system in Ghana is one that amply demonstrates this and empirical ethnographic evidence depicts a call for the media, legal and quasi-legal forums to be referees in adjudicating ‘who is who’ and/or can be key player(s) in healthcare teams’. Consequentially, this paper depicts that, the referees (that is the public: media, legal, quasi-legal) though external to the health team membership, apparently unwittingly are making and have made one professional grouping win this debate, through an all too common perceptible reality (that they distinctly recognize mostly doctors). These biases present doctors with enormous social and professional (socio-professional) capital tendencies that they use to control and direct every sphere of healthcare institutional teamworking discourse. Further, those health groupings expressing a sense of being marginalized interestingly seeks and turns to these ‘public’ referees in attempts to stay significant.

This paper extends the existing body of knowledge on the conventional healthcare teamworking rhetoric, by exposing a distinct reason why health professional boundaries are entrenched; the effects of socio-professional capital dynamics, which the literature in this area largely overlooks.