City Research Online

Conducting Global Team-based Ethnography: Methodological Challenges and Reflections

Jarzabkowski, P., Bednarek, R. & Cabantous, L. (2014). Conducting Global Team-based Ethnography: Methodological Challenges and Reflections. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2014(1), article number 16809. doi: 10.5465/ambpp.2014.16809abstract


While ethnography has often been seen as the province of the lone researcher, increasingly management scholars are examining phenomena that are global in nature, necessitating a shift to global, team-based, ethnography. This shift presents some unique methodological challenges, as well as practical issues, that have not been examined in the literature on organizational research methods. That is the focus of this paper. We first outline the methodological implications of a shift from single researcher to team ethnography, and from single case site to the multiple sites that constitute a global ethnography. We then present a detailed explanation of a global, team-based ethnographic research project that we conducted over three years. Our study of the global reinsurance industry involved a team of five ethnographers conducting fieldwork in 25 organizations across 15 countries. We outline three central challenges we encountered; team division of labor, team sharing, and constructing a global ethnographic object, and the methodological implications of our approach to these challenges. The paper concludes by suggesting that global, team-based, ethnography can provide important understanding into global phenomena, such as regulation, finance, and climate change among others, that are of interest to management scholars. The specific challenges we faced, and the particular steps we took to address them, can provide helpful reflections for those seeking to conduct such research projects.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Ethnography, Globalization, Team-based research, Global Practice
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of 2014-03-30_GlobalTeamEthno_Submission%20submitted.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (696kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login