JOE announces new innovative sections

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

It is with great pleasure that we announce two new innovative sections that are added to the Journal of Organizational Ethnography:

  • Decolonizing Organizational Ethnography
  • Navigating Failure in Ethnography

We consider them both timely and innovative in the context of the ongoing intellectual and reflective developments in the field of organizational ethnography. Don’t hesitate to contact the Section Editors if you have any questions, further suggestions and, preferably, manuscript that you would like to submit to these new sections in JOE. When submitting, please indicate in your cover letter which section your manuscript falls under.

Keep an eye on JOE news as yet another section is also just around the corner that also may be of interest to you, titled Creative Formats for Organisational Ethnography.

We are also now accepting book reviews.

Looking forward to the first articles in these new sections and with best regards,

Harry Wels and Mike Rowe

Decolonizing Organizational Ethnography

Section Editors: Nadira Omarjee ([email protected]) and Thijs Willems ([email protected])        

What does organizational ethnography have to do with decolonisation? And what does work on decolonisation have to do with organizational ethnography? This special section is interested in exploring the multiple and complex ways in which these two different approaches to social phenomena intertwine: how they inform or challenge each other; and how this conversation can inspire bold new theoretical, methodological, or empirical questions.

Organizational ethnography (like many other sorts of ethnographies or anthropological fields) has always been concerned with investigating the life-worlds of ‘the Other’ and exploring the ways in which power and geopolitics unfolds through different narratives and multiple voices. A closer engagement with decolonisation may further these efforts and it may, in turn, provide a more critical reflection ‘inwards’ in decolonising the art of organizational ethnography itself. To this extent, decolonisation attempts to conscientize us to the workings of history and the afterlives of othering and how that impacts organisational ethnography.

When we write about decolonization in this section of JOE, we are not offering it as a metaphor; it is not an approximation of other experiences of oppression. Decolonization is not a swappable term for other things; it doesn’t have a synonym. We thus wish to engage beyond current trends where decolonisation has become a buzzword, emptying the decolonisation programme of its strategic function of redressing settler-colonial injustices (Bhambra et al 2018, p. II). Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang (2012) argue that the language of decolonisation has been adopted in ways which empty it of its specific political aims; namely the repatriation of dispossessed indigenous land. Such emptying might include educational practices that seek to move away from Eurocentric frames of reference whilst using the language of decolonisation to pursue a politics distinct from indigenous struggles over land. They argue that the easy absorption, adoption, and transposing of decolonization is yet another form of settler appropriation.

We are thus specifically interested in the different and layered ways in which organizational ethnography and the programme of decolonisation intersect, and how a conversation between the two can lead to changes in how, where, why and with whom we research.

Aims of the section

  • What does it mean to decolonise organisational ethnography: methodology, perceptions in different cultural contexts
  • Critically examine what organisation means: institution vs community/collective
  • Challenging established ways of doing organisational ethnography
  • Disrupting notions of ontology/epistemology via (g)local ways of knowing

Scope of the section

  • Shifting away from Eurocentric notions of organisational ethnography to understand pluriversal notions of organisational ethnography
  • What is the value of decolonising organisational ethnography

Please submit your manuscript under the manuscript type ‘research paper’ and indicate in your cover letter that you are submitting to the section ‘Decolonising Organizational Ethnography’.

Navigating Failure in Ethnography

Section Editors: Anna Galazka ([email protected]) and Rafael Verbuyst ([email protected])

All ethnographic fieldworkers have encountered ‘failure’ in one way or another during the course of their research, from denied access to the field and research ethics-related conundrums, to struggling with data interpretation and failing to live up to ideals of reciprocity, and much more. While these types of issues have received some attention, particularly in recent years, a sustained in-depth investigation of the role of failure in ethnographic research is lacking. Ethnographic studies still often read as ‘success stories’: polished and censured accounts of methodological rigor, theoretical breakthroughs and intellectual brilliance. In the neoliberal academy and beyond, failure is commonly understood as the opposite of success and shunned in research.

With Navigating Failure in Ethnography, we argue that failure is intrinsic to solid (i.e. ‘successful’) ethnographic research and therefore deserves closer scrutiny. This is not a nihilistic celebration of failure or an outlet for people to air frustrations or list mistakes and regrets for the sake of it. Rather, scrutinizing failure as an intrinsic facet of ethnographic research reflects methodological rigor and prompts a reconceptualization of what it is that we do as ethnographers. The value of texts whose authors ‘come clean’ about the failures in their fieldwork cannot be overstated, for they can help others avoid similar mistakes and make them feel they are not alone in facing their challenges. By speaking directly to lived experiences of both young and veteran ethnographers and promoting a diversity of perspectives (i.e. in terms of gender, discipline, age, racial and ethnic background, etc.), our understanding of failure will be greatly enhanced.

We welcome two types of articles of 5,000-8,000 words (including the title, abstract, keywords and references): (1) essay-style methodological reflections on learning experiences from ‘things going wrong’ in ethnographic research and (2) interviews with ethnographers on ‘lessons learned’ from the ‘failures’ they faced in their research. Essay-style articles offer a rigorous academic forum to reflexively discuss one’s encounters with failure. The interviews are a platform for documenting research conversations between ethnographers (3,000 – 5,000 words of transcript) along with methodological commentary from the interviewer (and interviewee) on the ‘lessons learned’ for the wider community of ethnographers (2,000-3,000 words).

Please submit your manuscript under the manuscript type ‘research paper’ OR ‘interview’ and indicate in your cover letter that you are submitting to the section ‘Navigating Failure in Ethnography’.