Multi-Sited Ethnographic Fieldwork in Complex Organizations: On the Quest for the “Employees' Points of View” Across Three Offices of a Multinational Consulting Firm in Mumbai/India

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:40
Location: Seminar 31 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Frauke MOERIKE, Heidelberg University, Germany
This paper is a reflection on fieldwork carried out for a PhD project in the area of organizational anthropology. The multi-sited research took place over the duration of 12 months in 2013/14 at the three offices of a multinational consulting company in Mumbai (India) with a total of approximately 800 employees of various hierarchy levels and designations. The objective is firstly to give an account on how ethnographic fieldwork methods had to be adapted to fit to the corporate world, an environment of highly specialized experts of commercial topics. Here “participant observation” has to cater for the the fast-changing and diverse settings of a consulting firm, for the employees’ changing workload situations and multiple communication channels, including virtual communication. Similarly, interviewing strategy was developed around the constant hunt for a share of the actor’s time, a highly precious and protected resource at work, and to balance out potential notions of company politics. Secondly this paper aims to discuss the key assumption of multi sited ethnographic research: that the trans-local relationships are as relevant as the ones within each office itself, making such a study through the discovery and analysis of such “ties, linkages and relationships different to a mere comparison of localities” (Hannerz 2003) and therefore providing for a potential framework to grasp the perceptions of the “global” in such organizations.