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First you have to get outside: reflections on the ecological location of qualitative fieldwork

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
Article number23
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Organization and Environment
Issue number2
Volume23
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)119-131
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Most methodology books do not explain how nature—or in the author’s case, heavy wet snow and swampy muskeg—can be an intrinsic part of a qualitative research design. Yet the author’s inability to make sense of the subarctic not only limited her preliminary qualitative analysis, but this lack of skill also nearly killed her. This article describes the author’s emergent belief that first-hand situated knowledge of the local ecology is an essential requirement of effective qualitative inquiry in social—ecological contexts. The author uses data from two ethnographic studies that were published in the Academy of Management Journal (2000) and Organization & Environment (2004) to illustrate this point. She discusses how the local ecology affected her qualitative research design in terms of access, type of data collected, and interpretation of local management practices. The author closes by calling for a renaturing of qualitative inquiry especially as it relates to research on sustainability.