Edited by Alfredo De Massis and Nadine Kammerlander
Chapter 4: Ethnography: a much-advocated but underused qualitative methodology in published accounts of family business research
In parallel with the growing interest in qualitative research methods in family business, many family business scholars advocate the greater use of ethnographic methods to advance the field further. This endorsement rests on at least two arguments. On the one hand, there is a need to widen, extend, or deepen our perspectives to better understand the ‘boundary-crossing’ nature of families in business; on the other hand, the majority of proposals to extend ethnographic research aim to tap into the important yet underexplored complex tacit processes of family firms. However, ethnographic research in family business settings remains rarely published. This chapter reviews a set of family business studies that have used ethnographic methods and have been published in business and management journals in order to examine their orientations, main findings, techniques adopted, and epistemological/ontological stances. Looking forward, the authors end this chapter with a brief discussion on how the practice of ethnography is changing with reference to the visual and virtual applications of ethnographic principles.
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