Principles of Ethnographic Research


23 Mar 2015 11 Dec 2017

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Ethnography: a research method for deciphering a behavior that is not in words or numbers. Ethnographic Research is a discipline based on the concept of culture that combines tactics of observation and interview to record the dynamic behavior.

It needs the personal experience and possible participation, not just observation, by researchers. It has multidisciplinary teams and is very important have a focal point.
Ethnographers study any human area; and the principal idea is moving from "learning" to "testing".

Ethnography has its roots planted in the fields of anthropology and sociology.

Ethnographic research has variations in observational methods, which involves a commitment to get close to the subject being observed in its natural setting, to be factual and descriptive; and variations in observer involvement, observer is also a participant in the program activities being studied. In participant observation the challenge is to combine participation and observation so as to become capable of understanding the experience as an insider while describing the experience for outsiders.

Three methodological principles:

  1. Naturalism. The objectives are the ethnographers carry out their research in "natural", settings that exist independently of the research process. And the notion of naturalism implies that social events and processes must be explained in terms of their relationship to the context in which they occur.
  2. Understanding: in this point the human actions differ from the behavior of physical objects; involve interpretation of stimulus and the construction of responses. It is necessary to learn the culture of the group one is studying before one can produce valid explanations for the behavior of its members.
  3. Discovery: They have a general interest in some types of social phenomenon and/or in some theoretical issue or practical problem.

The ethnographic research has generic guidelines for conducting fieldwork, and in particular evaluation situation, the needs of the interview, and the personal style of the interviewer all come together to create a unique situation for each interview.

It is important have in mind that the privacy or copyright issues may apply to the documents gathered.

Regard to ethics in ethnographic research; the researchers must make their research goals clear to the members of the community, where they undertake their research and gain the informed consent of their consultants to the research beforehand.

The purpose of analysis is to organize the description in a way that makes it manageable. Description is balanced by analysis and leads into interpretation.

Ethnographic With International Business

The relationship between ethnographic research and international business has a great importance in our organisations, because they musthave a comprehensive and specific knowledge of the characteristics of each of its target markets in which they want to generate future international negotiations.

Then as ethnographic research is the study of customs, behaviors, symbols ... of a specific culture, it becomes a tool that brings efficiency when business worldwide take place, because these studies facilitate to the organisation to adapt faster according to the features of the culture target. The ethnography as research method allows the companies to get an idea on consumers' actual practices, and suggests the needs to promote certain products and communication strategies.

Thus, problems are not verbally articulated by consumers are identified by the ethnographer, and turned into opportunities for modifying marketing strategies.

Ethnographic observation came to be the first step towards innovation, because it promotes the discovery of uncover opportunities , not articulated in words or concepts.

The ethnography of markets is an effective way to develop a detailed and contextualized understanding of the behavior and choices of consumers. For example, some applications in which ethnography has proven to be useful are: In the discovery and development of new products.

The ethnographic approach is useful in studying the internal operations of businesses, employee groups and business environments.

By knowing the appropriate language and cultural codes in different regions and cultural groups through ethnographic immersion, it is possible to reach new market niches such as groups ensuring loyalty to brands.

GORDILLO, Andrés. “Contac with the real world”.






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  •  GENZUK, Michael. A synthesis of ethnographic research.
  •  Class presentation. Ethnographic research.2010

National & Organisational Culture

"National culture is a matter of what people believe deep down, and no one can force or buy such belief". [Millman, Gregory J."Culture". Jul 1, 2007]

Organizational culture has expectations, standards and goals common to a group experiences, beliefs and values, both personal and cultural organization.

So, organizational culture is different to national culture and is incorrect put in the same place, is necessary separate. So start in the organizational culture to one person, that in group develop and shape an organization, any and all decide to follow and work with it. It is important to recognize that organizational culture takes time to apply within an organization and describe the whole collection of assumptions, practices and norms that people adopt in an organization over time. The resulting culture of the organization is externally influenced by the culture of the nation and in many cases the communities that surround it.

Now when we talk about changes in a company is not about changing the culture, but rather help it to solve the problems. A change in behavior depends on how the company uses its cultural strength, changing certain actions people should and should not do. The idea of changing culture in order to achieve some business objective, or even to comply with a court order, comes from a misunderstanding of what culture means.

Cultural anything comes at the end of the process, and the cultures don´t change, is possible but think I am trying a new strategy, trying to use acquisitions and integrate them to make the company grow.

The point is, you do not go out and try to change the culture. You do something to improve performance.

When entrepreneurs start businesses, they do what makes sense to them in the context of values and assumptions they may have had in mind since they were children. How they treat their people, and what their people expect, may depend on national cultural assumptions so deeply rooted that few ever question them - but they can stymie attempts to change corporate culture.

Now, in globalization, we need people who make slow decisions, who think before they act, who do not immediately voice any opinions, who are prepared to go against established practice.

  •  Mead, Richard. 2004. International Management: Cross-Cultural Dimensions London: Blackwell Publishing. Chapter 1.
  •  Millman, Gregory J. . 2007. "Corporate Culture: more myth than reality? ." The Free Library 23:44-47. Millman, Gregory J. (2007, July 1).

Posted by MARIA CAMILA at 2:20 PM

Is a corporate culture in every organisation?- Can it be modified?- How does is affect processes that require a deep organizational change?

Organisational culture is the union of values (beliefs, ideas,...) and rules which are shared by individuals and by groups within an organisation, which define the way you interact between people and the environment of the organisation. So, is possible that in every organisation are corporate cultures.

With targets set from the values of the organisation, develop standards, guidelines and expectations that determine the appropriate behavior of workers in particular situations.

But trying to determine the corporate culture, the desire to impose values and behavior standards that reflect the objectives of the organisation, not an easy task, since past situations brings with organisational decisions could be taken earlier.

Organisational culture is symbolic, with its element leads its members to establish identity and exclusion processes. It is intangible and the only observable manifestations, so to get to change it; you have to start making simple changes from the symbols and customs that guide it. For example, in the conduct of its old and new workers, it should encompass all levels and departments within the organisation, from personal and social relations to the accounting rules. This culture has several effects on the behavior of its members, like:

  • The attraction and selection processes.
  • On memory processes and voluntary turnover, that if there is greater understanding between the values of employees and organisational culture, the greater the employee commitment to the organisation, and less voluntary departure.

"To be successful, changes in competitive strategy will require a consistent change in people, work roles, organizational structure, and technology. Internal changes in the organizational approach to improve human capability will require organizational learning, and an alignment of the strengths and values within the organization. By aligning the strengths and values within the organization, it will improve the overall success of the competitive strategy and meet with the long-term goals of the organization".Ver: [ ]

If a culture is achieved flexible, changing cash, may adapt more easily to the external environment, fulfilling its mission and vision for.

Millman, Gregory J. Corporate Culture: more myth than reality?. Jul 1, 2007

TOGGENBURG, Gabriel. EURAC research:Who is Managing Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in the European Condominium? The Moments of Entry, Integration and Preservation.

Posted by MARIA CAMILA at 4:24 PM

Migrants Workers

Immigration to Canada refers to the process by people from other countries migrate to Canada to live permanently. Canada must have experienced some sort of immigration over the course of its early existence, for it had a population of around five million by 1901. Along the Canadian history millions of people have migrated to this country and nowadays the country has a population of more than 30 millions, the principal cause of population growth has been immigration.

Immigration is generally caused by social, political and economic reasons, groups of people settle down permanently or temporarily in other country in order to find a better quality of life. Some countries typical of immigrants are Germany, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, USA, France, New Zealand and United Kingdom, where it´s possible to study the phenomenon of foreigner who go to work.

The immigrants face a challenge in the new country, the must to be part of it in the work field (legal permits, ID and social security) and also they have to assume new costumes and ways of life and integrate them to theirs.

The history of immigration to Canada in the modern age began in great numbers after World War II. More Europeans moved into the country: Italians, Irish, Greeks, as well as continuing numbers of French and British. A second wave of immigrants came in the 1960's, mostly consisting of Asians, Hispanics, Indians, Caribbeans, and Arabs. At that time the Government introduced severe immigration restriction. In the 1960s, explicit discrimination on the basis of race or religion was eliminated, to be replaced by criteria and then a “points system” which emphasized the skills, education, and training of the independent immigrant, rather than his or her ethnic or confessional background.

Canada has the highest per-capita immigration rate in the world, driven by economic policy and family reunification. There are three categories of immigrants:

  1. Family Class: closely related persons of Canadian residents
  2. Independent Immigrants: admitted on the basis of a point system that account for age, health and labour-market skills
  3. Refugees: seeking protection by applying to remain in Canada.

In 2008, there were 65,567 immigrants in the family class, 21,860 refugees, and 149,072 economic immigrants amongst the 247,243 total immigrants to the country.

Canada's future prosperity will depend on its ability to supplement its aging workforce by more effectively utilizing its current and future human capital. Indeed Canada is part of a global war for talent and need to attract the brightest and the best people such as scientists, entrepreneurs and engineers. Canada and other immigrant countries need an adequate planning and infrastructure to make sure that new citizens and future immigrants are able to maximize their potential and contribute to economic growth of the country.

Do you think the Points System in Canada is meant to protect the country's sovereignity?, or ¿is it just a deliberated form of discrimination? Why?

Immigration is a global phenomenon, which affects mostly developed countries. Many developed nations have restricted immigration policies in order to prevent unequal competencies and ensure the contribution to the economic and social growth of the country.

I think the Points System in Canada is meant to protect the country's sovereignity and it is not a form of discrimination. Canada is an open country and well recognized for its immigrations system, which attracts thousands of immigrants every year. The Canadian system is part of a set of immigrations policies and emphasizes the skills, education, and training of the independent immigrant, rather than discrimination factors. The Points System evaluates the capacity of the future immigrants to become a part of the Canadian society successfully and it is based on the demands of labor market.

A fact which confirms the non-discrimination in immigration policy in Canada is the diversity of origin and culture of the current immigrant population. Immigrants come from Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Middle East. Another remarkable fact is that all permanent residents are entitled to the same benefits from the government.

Canadian immigration policy has kept a process of refinement and adjustment to achieve a balance between generosity and the country's economic and social interests. This balance is the key support and credibility of such policy.

  •  Verbeeten, David. 2007. The Past and Future of Immigration to Canada. Journal of International Migration & Integration, 8(1): 1-10.
  •  Class presentation. Migrants workers. 2010

Managing Diversity

If we want to be successful, diversity is something we need to take care of. We must understand our context and realize how important it is to make diversity an item that can make us improve. The diversity can make us expand every day. This is because diversity brings with itself several cultures, depending of the place where they are. Those kind of points of view can increase the possibilities of create a lot of products that all the human classes would be able to afford. So diversity has the possibility not only to learn about it, but setting up our organization with the different ideas that came up from it. And these ideas are very significant because they are developed for the culture and traditions (and more).

Also, it's important to know that diversity can be present in different ways. For example, demographic variables, beliefs, behaviors, self conceptions, skills. This means that if we use all of these differences, we will be able to have too many options that increase us, not even as a company but as a person.

And as a person, you can also acquire abilities to be an excellent manager; for example, avoid prejudices, increase employing, increase tolerance.

As a team, we get the experience to talk work in groups, we can work with too many ideas that will help us in managing conflicts and in problems' solution (“two heads think better than one”) and this will be productivity, that means less costs for the organization. As an organization, the most important thing it's adapting a positive posture to the constantly changes that are happening all the time, that's why the organization needs to be flexible too.
Of course these aspects together, permit to know a lot of ways to work in the organization, if we know how to include them, and work in a positive way with them, the differences always will allow having new projects in an efficient way and more complete. Accepting all the feedbacks, and correcting them, will bring you the possibility to improve day by day.

3. What are the limitations or challenges that a corporate diversity program faces?

  •  Leadership: It must be well distributed instead of concentrated across the organization. The leaders must be able to create networks. They must to know how to manage diversity , letting people to express themselves and creating a share identity.
  •  Diversity must be part of the organizations as policy and ethic factor, it let them to survive in the future scenes highly diverse.
  •  Recognize all kinds of differences in profile and needs of the people, such as culture, age, sexual orientation, disability, professional competence, personal abilities, leadership styles, communication, etc.. The inclusion of the people because their differences in the organization will generate creativity, innovation and effectiveness. If people is happy in their workplace they will be more productive.
  •  Slater, Stanley F., Weigand, Robert A., Zweilein, Thomas J., 2008. “The business case for commitment to diversity”. Business Horizons 51: 201-209.
  •  Thomas, David A., 2004. “Diversity as Strategy”, Harvard Business Review, September 2004, 98-108.
  •  Sylvie, Chevrier. 2003. "Cross-cultural management in multinational project groups" Journal of World Business 38:141-149.
  •  Class presentation. Managing Diversity. 2010.

Posted by MARIA CAMILA at 4:22 PM

Understanding Diversity

Definition of Diversity

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.

It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.

It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

The rise of multinational companies and increased global diversification by even small companies has resulted in people of diverse backgrounds and cultures working together in the same office or for the same organization. Conflict in such situations is inevitable, but understanding the diversity issues can help companies implement programs designed to keep conflict at a minimum and to take full advantage of the many benefits which such diversity brings to an organization. Key to understanding how diversity is managed in multinational organizations understands the concept of corporate culture (which defines organizations), diversity programs and their use to minimize conflict among employees, and the unique problems that employees working overseas encounter.

The behavioral regularities are typified by the language, tasks, jargon and roles which members of the organization use and expect to find within the organization. Just as in a larger societal culture, an organization's culture supports certain language and behaviors from its members.

The standards of behavior, or norms, that an organizational culture establishes define behavior newcomers to the organization.

For example the Multicultural organizations (or organizations that value diversity) generally reflect the contributions and interests of diverse communities in their mission, operation and services. They enable diverse cultural and social groups to participate fully at all levels of the organization, particularly at the policy level.

They act to eradicate all forms of discrimination and oppression and they seek to advance the principles underpinning multiculturalism/diversity at the broader societal level.

When into the organizations Celebrating Diversity in the workplace, makes employees feel appreciate for their uniqueness, but acknowledging similarities fosters a more cohesive workplace, forging common bonds amongst colleagues. Most of these connections come from interpersonal interaction.

Do you think the entry and integration of new members to the European Union are processes that promote diversity? , or on the contrary, ¿strive to homogenize the European Society?

I agree with the statement that the entry and integration of new members to the European Union are processes that promote diversity, because they reflect the aim to be organized in a way that ensures an interactive, educational and interesting experience for all country members.

Europe is a continent proud of its cultural and social diversity, which proceed from different countries or specific regions and at the same time are part of the European cultural heritage. European Union wants to preserve that diversity, promote it and share it with the rest of the world. Those aims are specified in the Maastricht Treaty (1992), where for the first time the cultural dimension of European integration was officially recognized.

European Union gives a cultural dimension to many ambits, such as art, literature, politic, education, language, scientific research, information technology and communication and economic development.

  •  TOGGENBURG, Gabriel. EURAC research:Who is Managing Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in the European Condominium? The Moments of Entry, Integration and Preservation.
  •  Millman, Gregory J. Corporate Culture: more myth than reality?. Jul 1, 2007

Posted by MARIA CAMILA at 2:44 PM

Expatriate Assignments

Expatriates "the type of people who go to another country, hired in most of the cases by transnational companies, in order to work successfully in a international environment".

Expatriate employees pertain to employees that are non-citizens of the country in which they are working. Currently, the purpose of international expatriate assignments has evolved along with the changing globalization trends.

Expatriate international assignments require that cost effectiveness and appropriateness issues be considered. Since globalization is now the current trend, it is important to be able to manage these international workers strategically and effectively.

Increasing globalization of business requires more expatriates but employee costs and family considerations impede the mobility of the employees. personal aspects can include technical qualifications, personality and character factors, family willingness (including dual career and education aspects).

Social, economic and political factors contribute to an expatriate's feeling of satisfaction and well-being, so location is an important determinant. Many cultures are uncomfortable setting concrete goals and targets, prefering "just in time" planning and management tactics.
The real success factor seems to be not so much in sending them out on assignment but in bringing them back home.

One of the causes for expatriate assignment failure and some recommendations could be.

An inability on the part of the expatriate family to adjust to the foreign environment is the main determinant of expatriate failure. Given that the reasons for expatriate failure tended to be the same, the role of the home company has increased as a contributor toward expatriate failure. Organizations need to be aware of their role as well as the importance of the spouse and family in managing expatriate assignments effectively.

Nowadays exist a high failure rate among expatriates because neither they nor their families are prepared to deal with the level of uncertainty associated with the process.

It is important that each organization that wants to succeed with the goals set for expatriates, meets their family details, as this is a fundamental aspect when someone is sent to another place of work, because being far away from family or having to leave several times, does that employees have family problems and can´t meet the expectations.

The selection policies must establish some features to choose the right person who can meet the requirements of the company, without interfering in the family relationship of their employees.
Having a larger investment to be able to cover expenses for the expatriate and his family, thus organization gets a better performance from its employees, due to their relationships go well and their motivation can be higher.

Participation flexible work being performed, where expatriates can have a chance to be a short period with a certain frequency in their country of origin.

  •  Class presentation. Migrant workers 2010.

East Asia

Japanese And Korean

Korea is currently a front-runner among developing nations, getting closer to the ranks of developed nations. In the process of economic growth, a few dozen big business groups, of chaebols, have emerged. The fifty largest business groups account for as much as 20 percent of Korea's gross domestic product (GDP), and the five largest business groups, such as Hyundai, Samsung, Lucky-Goldstar, Sunkyong, and Daewoo, account for as much as 10 percent of GDP (Korea Development Institute, 1982).


Korean term for a conglomerate of many companies clustered around one parent company. The companies usually hold shares in each other and are often run by one family. Similar to the keiretsu in Japan.

The conglomerates of South Korea, known as chaebol groups, have exerted enormous influence upon that country's fast-growing economy.

The tendency is that the large size chaebol results in larger shares of the family ownership.


The zaibatsu were family-owned conglomerate businesses that were promoted by the Meiji government of Japan.

The general structure of the keiretsu is an association of companies formed around a bank. They cooperate with each other and own shares of each others stock.

The similarities and differences of Japanese and Korean management styles.

Most of the similarities are concentrated in the area of cultural traditions in the form of Confucianism, with includes the harmony of interpersonal relationships, the hierarchical structure of the society and organization, the importance of family, the prevalence of authoritarianism, paternalism and personalism, the system of mutual obligation, and the universality of the guanxi network.

The differences can be discussed along the lines of organization a structure, management process, and business strategies. To begin with, the nature of ownership varies a great deal among the four systems.

In between are de Japanese keiretsus and the Korean chaebols. For the former, family ownership and business management have long been dissociated, while the latter is in the process of giving professional managers more decision-making power, though most families still hold the key posts in the companies. In addition, the ownership of large Japanese companies has become fairly public while the ownership of Korean business groups remains largely private.

The also differ each other a great deal in terms of organizational size, ranging from very small CFBs to very large keiretsus, with Korean chaebols and the Chinese CSEs lying in between. Except for the keiretsus, the other three are highly centralized, with small CFBs probably having the highest degree of centralization.

In Korea, the family inheritance is strictly based on the blood relationship, with the eldest son given the priority.

Government´s intervention: Credit; foreign exchange rationing; export growth:benefits .Favorate firms grew faster and diversified better.

In Japan, however, the concept of is applied to family inheritance, and its primary purpose is to maintain the wealth of the family under the leadership of a capable person rather than to bequeath the wealth only to the blood-related family. Not all companies are alike. Market share-growth strategy. Value maximization.Participation of workers and middle management-building group loyalty. Right kind of customers information exchange.Flexible manufacturing connecting product design and production. Corporate values- to carry organization through a change.

  •  Lee, Jangho, Thomas W. Roehl, & Soonkyoo Choe. 2000. What Makes Management Style Similar and Distinct Across Borders? Growth, Experience and Culture in Korean and Japanese Firms
  •  Class presentation. Korea. 2010


The economy of China is the third largest in the world, after the United States and Japan. China is the fastest-growing major economy in the world, and has had the fastest growing major economy for the past 30 years.

China, economically extremely backward before 1949, has again become one of the world's major economic powers with the greatest potential. In the 22 years following reform and opening-up in 1979 in particular, China's economy developed at an unprecedented rate, and that momentum has been held steady into the 21st century. In 2004, China further strengthened and improved its macro control, and the economy entered its best ever development period of recent years.

So far, China's remarkable economic growth has come mostly from its trade and export dominance. A combination of low wages, specialized regional networks and product exporters has enabled China to become the global economy's low-cost supplier.

To achieve high performance, Chinese companies need to identify where their competitive advantages will lie in a global marketplace and build the necessary skills to capitalize on these opportunities.

The relevance of Guanxi and the existence of Chinese business networks as supporting factors to the internationalization process of Chinese companies.

Guanxi is a second currency and constitutes a key or a secret to corporate success in China and It is a Chinese word which is also recognized in Japan and Korea.

Thus, together, Guanxi can be translated as relationships and connections. Thus, Guanxi is a social dimension, and a human factor.

A large number of researches on doing business in China recognize the importance of Guanxi and they believe that Guanxi is one of the most crucial business aspects of doing business in China, which can ensure that business will be successful and help to build an organization's competitive standing in the long run, by minimizing the risks, frustrations, and disappointments. (While Guanxi is most properly associated with China, it is also associated with those countries with a predominantly Chinese culture such as Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore).

One writing in Harvard Business Review, referred to the overseas Chinese entrepreneurs as the world's fourth economic power, along with US, Europe and Japan, and summarized that they are bound together by Guanxi, a shared tradition, primarily a network of entrepreneurial relationships.

A Guanxi network does not have to be based on money. Members inside a network are more likely to define themselves as friends. Therefore, building one's own desired Guanxi is not so different from making friends in China. Being dependable and reliable definitely strengthens a friendship, so it does cause the initiation of a Guanxi. Friends can count on each other in good or tough times.

Enhance and Maintain Existing Guanxi Networks

Also, in a Guanxi network, since an initial favor is surely granted when it is owed, it also means no more than the promise that the ledger will someday be put into balance. Therefore, paying favors back is important to keep the Guanxi network running.

A study from a Sino-Singaporean Guanxi research (Ewing, Caruana & Wong, 1998) summarizes that to maintain and nurture Guanxi requires a huge amount of effort, and it is mutual benefits, exchange of favors, mutual trust, sharing future business opportunities, and keeping in touch (frequently contacts) with partners that provide the key.

"The Chinese social system is classified as a relation based system, which focuses on the special relations between individuals in order to achieve harmony. In Chinese societies, guanxi can be defined as “a friendship with unlimited exchange of favours”, which means if two people share a guanxi relationship they feel fully committed to each other To make guanxi work a Chinese businessman/ woman must complete his or her obligations, try to be loyal to friends, do favours and maintain a reputation for fairness". (CHEN,Chun Lisa."Is Guanxi still working, while Chinese MNCsgo global? The case of Taiwanese MNCs in the UK").

  •  Chen, I Chun Lisa and Easterby-Smith Mark. 2008. “Is Guanxi still working, while Chinese MNCs go global? The case of Taiwanese MNCs in the UK”. Human Systems Management 27: 131-142.
  •  Class presntation. China. 2010.

Posted by MARIA CAMILA at 9:28


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