The significance of unforeseen events in organisational ethnographic inquiry

Trevor Green, Stephen Swailes, Janet Handley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to emphasise the importance for the practicing ethnographer of responding to unforeseen events that occur during periods of data collection.

An analysis of four unforeseen events occurring during prolonged periods of study amongst workplace cleaners is undertaken and the changes in researcher acceptance resulting from the outcomes of these events are reported.

This paper shows how awareness of the possible incidence of unforeseen events and the ability to carefully yet spontaneously manage the ethnographer’s reaction to them can substantially influence the degree of acceptance achieved by the observer within the group under study.

Though the need for an ethnographer to get close to the participants in a study is well documented, detailed examples as described in this paper are rare. The documentation of the nature and effects of such episodes and how they unfold serve to enhance the credibility of the research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-203
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Organizational Ethnography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'The significance of unforeseen events in organisational ethnographic inquiry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this