Doing Fieldwork in Organizations

Time: TBA

Place: Aalto University School of Business, Espoo, Finland

Learning objectives:

The course provides doctoral students with a comprehensive, up-do-date understanding of the principles and practices of organizational ethnography as a staple qualitative methodological approach to the study of organizations, communities, and institutions. Both the historical developments and contemporary debates will be discussed. The specific topics covered include: process and stages of ethnography (entering the field, conducting fieldwork, writing); traditional and contemporary varieties of ethnographic research methods (incl. shadowing and diary interviews); contemporary styles and varieties of ethnographic inquiry (incl. videography and affective ethnography); and ethics of doing organizational ethnography. The course is mainly targeted at doctoral students in management and organization, marketing, and organizational communication but it is designed to benefit all students, across disciplinary boundaries, who wish to employ qualitative fieldwork methods in their doctoral research (e.g. accounting, information systems science, logistics). During the course, students will also have the opportunity to received individualized feedback on their own research projects from the instructors and fellow students of the course.

After completing the course, students will be better able to

  • plan, conduct, and present ethnographic research
  • understand the historical background of organizational ethnography and its contribution to the theoretical development of organization and management studies
  • position their research projects in relation to different ethnographic traditions and styles
  • evaluate the strengths and limitations of ethnography as a cultural perspective to organizational and institutional life
  • critically consider the ethical and political implications of doing ethnographic research in organizational and institutional settings

Instruction and examination:

The course will be delivered over a period of 3 days (24h). Instruction will be based on the philosophy and methods of learner-centered instruction. Before the course, students are expected to complete a set of learning assignments that will be discussed in class. Class sessions consist of a) lectures, b) collective discussion and group work on the learning materials; c) panels and Q&A sessions with the instructors; and d) student presentations and feedback. To successfully complete the course, students need do all the learning assignments, participate actively in class, and write a final course paper (5000-8000 words) that will be due six weeks after the course.

Credits: 6 ECTS Grading: Students will be graded on a scale of 0 to 5 based on their final course paper.

Prerequisites: Students are required to familiarize themselves with a package of readings before the course (10-15 journal articles, book chapters, or videos) and complete a set of learning assignments (reaction papers).

Admittance: Maximum number of participants is 25.

Deadline for course applications: TBA. Applications should be sent by email to Ari Kuismin ( Students will be notified of acceptance by: TBA

Instructors (confirmed):

Eric Arnould, Professor, Aalto University School of Business, Finland

Barbara Czarniawska, Professor, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Saija Katila, Senior Lecturer, docent, Aalto University School of Business, Finland

Ari Kuismin, Postdoctoral researcher, Aalto University School of Business, Finland

Johanna Moisander, Professor, Aalto University School of Business, Finland

Joonas Rokka, Professor, Emlyon Business School, France

Course coordinator and contact information: Ari Kuismin (

Course application template:





University, faculty and dept.:

Research field:

Subject or title of dissertation:

Methodological approach of the study:

Stage of the dissertation:

Your own objectives for participating the course: