The New Knowledge Workers

The New Knowledge Workers

New Horizons in Management series

Dariusz Jemielniak

This critical ethnographic study of knowledge workers and knowledge-intensive organization workplaces focuses on the issues of timing and schedules, the perception of formality and trust and distrust in software development as well as motivation and occupational identity among software engineers.

Chapter 5: Research Methods and the Organizations Studied

Dariusz Jemielniak

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, organisational innovation


The present book is based on research findings from a five-year (2004–08) ethnographic project. Organizational anthropology has enjoyed growing popularity in the academic world recently. As some authors have indicated, general qualitative and interpretative research methods have in recent years become gradually more important for organizational and management theories than have approaches that are purely quantitative (Prasad and Prasad, 2002). Methodological and paradigmatic pluralism in science and management theory can be seen as both an advantage and a disadvantage in the field. There was a very fierce discussion at the beginning of the 1990s in two of the most frequently cited management journals, between Jeffrey Pfeffer (Stanford University) and John Van Maanen (MIT). The first argued (Pfeffer, 1993, 1995) that the implementation of only one type of research (quantitative) would help to focus on the most important problems, whereas the latter (Van Maanen, 1995a, 1995b) believed that a variety of different approaches and interdisciplinary inquiry in the field of management study is an important source of its power. A similar opinion to that of Van Maanen, though more balanced, was expressed by other authors (Cannella and Paetzold, 1994). It is difficult to decide unequivocally which side is right (and there are no neutral parties in that argument); however it has become clear that Pfeffer’s stance, although recognized as part of the scholarly environment, has not significantly influenced any change within the scientific field for 15 years. There are still many competing paradigms and the war is far from over...

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