Fieldwork in corporate offices in Mumbai (India): methods, tools and challenges
Paper short abstract:
This paper is reflecting on 12 months of fieldwork at the offices of a multinational consulting company in Mumbai, India. It has the objective to give an example on how “classic” ethnographic fieldwork methods had to be adapted to fit to the corporate world and which tools proved useful in such a setting.
Paper long abstract:
This paper is a reflection on fieldwork carried out for a PhD project on 'misunderstandings in the work environment'. This multi-sited research took place for the duration of 12 months in Mumbai, India, at the offices of a multinational consulting company. The three offices were spread across the city, with approximately 800 employees of various hierarchy levels and designations. The objective of this paper is to give an example on how "classic" ethnographic fieldwork methods had to be adapted to fit to the corporate world and which different tools proved useful in such a setting. In an environment of highly specialized experts of commercial topics, participant observation had to cater for the actor's changing workload situations and multiple communication channels used throughout a workday, 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. I also will to discuss how small digital tools for data collection proved most useful such a setting of fast moving actors and limited space, as well as the relevance of online social portals and powerpoint for network analyses.
Applied anthropology as a source of innovation (EASA Applied Anthropology Network)