PDW-09 [SWG-15a]: Writing Organizational Ethnography [merged with PDW-10]

Heidi Dahles
Griffith University, Australia
Juliette Koning
Brookes University Oxford, UK

Call for Applications



While conventional thinking views Organizational Ethnography (OE) basically as a method, i.e. fieldwork, OE is also – and, according to many ethnographers, most of all – a way of writing. Ethnographic descriptions are mediated through diverse genres of writing. Since Clifford Geertz' (The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books, 1973) appeal for 'thick descriptions' – a textual arrangement of research data which presents a case in terms of coherently constructed interpretations – much has changed in the practice of ethnographic writing. Ethnographic researchers have come to contest the idea of communicating through their writings a coherent insider's view of a society. The very act of interpreting necessitates an inquiry into the researcher's role and meaning making processes of which the researcher is a part. In this genre, writing ethnography turns into a reflexive process in which ethnographers critically assesses their role in the research and the establishment of the findings. Moreover, changing requirements of academic achievement encourage ethnographers to explore new ways of publishing fieldwork that divert from the classic ethnographic monograph.

The main aim of this pre-Colloquium Paper Development Workshop (PDW) on "Writing Organizational Ethnography" is to produce a stronger paper outline based on an earlier submitted draft paper that presents ethnographic data. In order to achieve this aim, the workshop will instruct participants about diverse genres of ethnographic writing in order to show how these genres might usefully be applied to studies of organizations of all kinds. In addition, the challenges of reflexive writing will be discussed, examples of good practice will be provided and alternative ways of writing OE will be explored. Scholars with ample experience in fieldwork and ethnographic writing will chair small breakout sessions where participants will have the opportunity for a detailed discussion of their work.


The workshop will take place on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:00am–14:00pm.




The workshop targets organizational scholars from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and interests wishing to enhance their knowledge of and skills in ethnographic writing. All scholars interested in developing their papers towards publishable articles are invited to apply to this PDW. However, preference will be given to PhD students/early career scholars. To be considered as an early career scholar, the applicant needs to have completed his/her doctoral/PhD thesis within the last three years. All applicants are required to have hands-on experience with ethnographic research.


Please submit – via the EGOS website! – a single document of application (.doc, .docx or .pdf file) that includes:

  • On the first page: a short letter of application containing full details of name, address (postal address, phone and email), affiliation (date of PhD completion for early career scholars), a statement of why the applicant considers it valuable to attend this PDW as well as an indication of what journal(s) the paper is likely to be submitted to.
  • A full draft paper that is to be developed to a publishable stage.


Heidi Dahles (PhD in social sciences in 1990, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands) is Full Professor and Head of Department of International Business and Asian Studies at Griffith University, Australia. Her research interest is in Chinese business, small-scale enterprises, and the informal economies of Southeast Asia. She is co-organizer of the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 15 on "Organizational Ethnography" and co-editor of the peer-reviewed Open Access journal 'Asia Matters: Business, Culture and Theory'.
Juliette Koning is Reader in Organization Studies and Asian Business at Oxford Brookes University, UK. She has a PhD in social anthropology and her research interests include questions of religion, identity and ethnicity in entrepreneurship and small business organizations in Southeast Asia. She is co-organizer of the EGOS Standing Workig Group (SWG) 15 on "Organizational Ethnography" and co-editor of the peer-reviewed Open Access journal 'Asia Matters: Business, Culture and Theory'.