Researching Organizations, The Practice of Organizational Fieldwork, by Matthew Jones

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    Emma Smith

    Researching Organizations-The Practice of Organizational Fieldwork

    Matthew Jones (2014)



    Having recently entered the field of research with organisations for the purposes of PhD fieldwork, I was very interested in the prospect of reviewing this particular text, with a view to developing my own research practices. The text itself is advertised for and targeted at graduate level researchers, as well as others who may wish to obtain a greater understanding of organisational research practice, so this would be ideal both as a starting ground text, and as an ongoing point of reference for researchers with more experience in the field.


    In terms of structure, the book comprises ten chapters, including an introductory and conclusions chapter. This is supplemented by a list of figures and tables, in addition to an index, which may be helpful in directing readers to the exact information they require. The contents page is also usefully sub-divided, detailing for example, information on various research stages (as in chapter 5 ‘Getting in: seeking and negotiating access’), and their locations within that chapter. For these reasons, the text can be considered accessible and user-friendly.


    The content itself, although thorough, still makes an accessible read. It does not appear that an extensive background knowledge or understanding of how to conduct organisational research and avoid common pitfalls is expected of readers. The introductory chapter and second chapter are recommended, particularly if you are new to this type of research, and wish to expand your understanding of organisational research in terms of its relationship to other types of research, definitions/types of organisations, and forms of organisational research.


    From chapter 3 onwards, covering the research process, ethics, entering and exiting an organisation, and disseminating research findings on organisations, the text appears to be similarly geared towards developing readers’ understanding of the field, adopting a step-by-step approach to undertaking organisational research, from the initial formation of a research topic/questions, to approaching an organisation for research access, and later exiting the research process and presenting your findings.


    Chapters are well written, clear and informative. Various tables and figures supplement chapters, by providing clear breakdowns of key theorists, concepts and definitions. While largely designed to facilitate a practice-based approach to research, occasional references are made to the theoretical underpinnings of this type of research. Readers will also find links to further reading and reference lists for each chapter, should they wish to develop a more theoretical and/or practical knowledge and understanding of the field.


    It is also worth noting the interdisciplinary nature of the book, which is reflected through the various examples and theories that Jones draws upon throughout the text, encompassing fields such as criminology and social anthropology. The non-management focused approach of the text may attract researchers of other disciplines considering this type of research, and wanting to develop a clear understanding of the field before embarking on research.


    In his latter chapters, Jones discusses the future of organisational research.  Readers are introduced to the significance of new technologies, the impact of globalisation and the emergence of ‘new organisational forms’, which suggest how organisational research may change, integrate and develop, amidst changing social landscapes.


    In sum, the text is well written, informative and accessible. It will likely be of use to researchers, both new to and with experience of this field, looking to develop a practice-based approach to organisational research.



    Lucia Sweet

    Hi Emma, thanks for posting this, it is a very thorough review!

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