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Conducting ethnographic research in the corporate settings


Speaker:Elena Simakova, University of Exeter Business School
Date: Friday 2 December 2011
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Location: Matrix Lecture Theatre

Further details

Inside Corporations: an ethnographic approach

In this talk Elena will discuss an ethnographic approach to technology marketing as developed in her earlier research with a global IT corporation’s EMEA headquarters located in the UK. In the spirit of current public and scholarly attempts at rethinking the foundations, successes, and failures of economic systems, the careful examination of corporate practices acquires special significance. It is particularly important—for academics, students, business practitioners, citizens, and policymakers—to have greater insight into the practices of hi-tech corporations in view of the often inflated promises of and concerns about the destiny of technological breakthroughs, especially those promising sizeable economic outcomes and societal transformation. Improving this understanding becomes a particularly meaningful effort in the context of demands for and attempts to achieve responsible innovation. Global corporations initiate, join, and maintain cultural technological discourses that provide for socio-technical change and hence alter the ways in which we organise our lives. Demanding significant investment of resources and time, the informed development and implementation of new technologies on different levels must take into consideration the subtle processes providing for the emergence of technological change. Ethnography is one of approaches employed to bring such insights. But to what extent, and in what sense, are corporations transparent for an ethnographer? Ethnography-in-the-making entails for researchers to deal with dilemmas, make choices, and develop practical strategies for getting access and maintaining meaningful interactions with participants in the field. She will examine in what ways ethnography can help to analyse the complex practices leading to the construction of credible narratives about technologies in the situations of uncertainty about the properties and functionalities of such technologies.

Background reading:

Simakova, Elena and Daniel Neyland (2008), ‘Marketing mobile futures: assembling constituencies and creating compelling stories for an emerging technology’, in Marketing Theory 2008 (8), pp. 91-116.