Bricolage in the Field
With the multiplication of ethnographic-inspired studies in organizational studies and information systems, questions about their alignment with ethnographic field work as traditionally defined have emerged. In this paper, I contend that ethnography is more than a set of methods; it is an epistemic stance that can be enacted through different practices. What makes a study ethnographic is not so much the methods but the stance that the researcher enacts – in this case one of improvisation and experimentation. Continuous experimentation, or what I call here bricolage in the field, has always been an important element of ethnography; today it is more essential than ever. I illustrate my claim with multiple examples from studies that experimented with different methods and approaches – individual or team-based, hand-written or video-based observations, collocated or virtual, and argue that what makes these studies ethnographic is not so much the methods used by the researchers, but whether researchers, through their field work, enacted an ethnographic stance.