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Case Study: Managers Challenge When Dealing With
Ying was struck when one of the lecturers on her postgraduate module talked about how managers often struggle when companies undergo changes such as mergers, and how they often fail to address their own difficulties. Since it was time for her to start thinking about her postgraduate research project, she thought that understanding the challenges managers face in looking after the organization and its employees during change processes would be a worthwhile and fulfilling research aim for her project and that maybe she could use her findings to help people cope with organizational change in future. As Ying filled out the form that would help her department assign her project tutor, she started to think about how she could design a project like this. She recalled several different methodologies from her research methods module, including quantitative and more qualitative research designs. She vaguely remembered that qualitative methods were better for understanding people so that was what she put down.Soon after she was assigned her research project tutor, Mikael, they sat down together and discussed the best method. Mikael agreed that qualitative methods would be well suited and suggested that Ying could start reading around what methods there were and the analysis that she would be doing. Soon after starting to read about qualitative methods in more detail, she ruled out interviews. These she reasoned would not allow her to follow what was actually going on ‘live’ in the organization (Van Maanen, 2011). She was convinced that the challenges that managers face in a change process could only really be understood by observing what they were actually doing and understanding the context in which this was happening. Consequently Ying decided that an ethnographic research design would most suit her research goal, which was to understand the challenges that managers face when dealing with change (Stahl et al., 2013) and understand aspects such as emotions experienced by managers themselves, making sense of what is happening around them and dealing with their own workload (Hammersley and Atkinson, 2003)On reading further about ethnography, Ying realized that she needed to further refine her research design and think about her underlying research philosophy. From her reading, she identified three common approaches to ethnography: critical, realist and interpretive. Each of these would mean something different for the way she would gather data in her ethnography. She immediately decided that the critical approach to ethnography might not fit since she was not interested in the power relations in the organization. She felt it was difficult to decide between the realist and interpretive approaches on her own. The realist approach would give her insights into how managers deal with change by focusing on the objective decisions and actions they take, but it would not allow her to gain insight into how they actually make sense of and interpret change. Interpretive ethnography might give her a richer understanding of how managers deal with change, but she was concerned that interpretive ethnography was rather unscientific as, unlike the realist stance, it involved her own interpretation of the data. For this reason, she felt that realist ethnography might help her to gain better data. After having mulled it over for a couple of days she decided, slightly reluctantly, to ask Mikael for help. Soon after the two of them met and discussed which stance would be more appropriate. Mikael told her that the realist and interpretive approaches were equally accepted methods. He questioned whether taking a realist stance would really let her find out what motivated managerial actions during change. He felt that interpretive ethnography might be most appropriate for Ying’s study as she wanted to look at how managers deal and cope with change beyond what they say and do. He advised her that it was important to acknowledge that the researcher is part of the creation of knowledge, but that this is an accepted means of uncovering the rich insights that will come from interpretive work. Consequently, Ying felt more comfortable taking an interpretive stance.Having decided on her philosophical position, Ying started thinking about some other aspects of her research design – how many cases she was going to study and for how long. She remembered that it was acceptable to carry out a single case study but that using multiple cases would allow her to make comparisons between different situations. Upon reflecting on the amount of work that goes into an ethnography and reading some articles that used ethnography, she realized that one case was all that she would be able to manage since she only really had a couple of months for gathering data. However, she realized that in order to understand the managers and how they dealt with the change she would have to study the company for as long as possible. Therefore she decided that she would use the entire two months that she had available for data collection, which seemed like a good amount of time since she found that other researchers had spent similar amounts of time in their research setting.Ying stepped back and thought about her decisions. She was very happy with every aspect of her research design so far and was already looking forward to the next step – finding access to a company to help her work out who she would talk to and observe. She knew getting access was not going to be easy but she was ready for the challenge
1.) (a) Do you agree with Ying’s choice of an interpretive
(b) What would the choice of another strategy such as a survey have meant for the kind of insights she would have gained?
(c) Would these have been different from the insights gained through the ethnographic research design?
2.) Ying chose a single case study. Do you think she could have
chosen to do multiple case studies in the time frame that she had?
What difference would that have made to her study?
3.) Was Ying right to seek help with deciding what type of ethnography to use? What might have happened if she had not sought help?
4.) 4.) What can you learn about ethnographic methods from Ying’s Case?
ANS 1) a) Yes, I agree with Ying's choice of an interpretive ethnographic strategy. Ying wanted to understand the challenges which mangers face in looking after the organization and its employees during change process and interpretive ethnographic strategy would help her to collect data from real life environment and interpret it so that she can know the real challenges which are faced by the managers beyond what they say and do.
b) Doing a survey she would gain information which may not be true sometimes because people who face such situations know better than anyone else.
c) Yes, these would be completely different from the insights gained through the ethnographic research design. Ethnography is the study of the individual from real life situations while survey is the study from different people's opinion which is generally done from a sample and the data collected through survey may not be correct as people from whom data collected does not have much knowledge or have little knowledge about those people who actually face such situations.
ANS 2) Ying could have studied one more case study in that time frame. The study of multiple cases could have let her compare the different views of different people which in turn could have helped her to conduct her research more effectively with more information.
ANS 3) Yes, Ying was right when she sought help. If she did not sought help she would have ended up with a type of ethnography which would not have given her the information which she was seeking.
ANS 4) I learnt that there are three types of ethnographic methods namely critical, realist and interpretive. critical approach focuses on the power relations in the organizations, realist approach gives a view on how the particular problem will get solved in real life situation and the interpretive approach gives us a view how the problem is solved actually and is based on the interpretation of data collected in real life situation.
Case Study: Managers Challenge When Dealing With Change Ying was struck when one of the lecturers...
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