Confronting the Digital
Doing ethnography in modern organizational settings
Organizational Research Methods , Volume 2018 p. 1- 12
Digital technologies pervade modern life. As a result, organizational ethnographers must contend with informants interacting in face-to-face and digitally mediated encounters (e.g., through email, Facebook Messenger, and Skype). This overlap of informants’ digital and physical interactions challenges ethnographers’ ability to demonstrate authenticity and multivocality in their accounts of contemporary organizing. Drawing on recent theorizing about the nature of digital artifacts and two cases of ethnographic fieldwork, we argue that digital artifacts afford ethnographers different modes of being co-present with research participants: digital as archive and digital as process. We offer guidelines to researchers on how to deploy these modes of co-presence in order to improve authenticity and multivocality in ethnographic studies of modern organizations. We also explore the implications for methodological concerns such as ethics, analytical choice, and reflexivity.