At the sharp end of new organizational ideologies: Ethnography and the study of multinationals

John Hassard, Leo McCann, Jonathan Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The discipline of international management has favoured predominantly functional and structural approaches to data collection and analysis, and its concepts are usually based on rather unitarist, ethnocentric interpretations of 'global business' that sideline local features and exaggerate the impact of change. On the other hand, the 'varieties of capitalism' approach, while sensitive to national differences in institutions and 'national business systems', also relies heavily on functionalist concepts and theories, and is vulnerable to overplaying national differences and underplaying the extent of change. We argue that the epistemic thinking of both approaches suppresses the significance of two issues crucial for explaining the restructuring of national regulatory systems and international firms: (1) the subjective interpretations of human actors in large transnational work organizations; and (2) the ideologies and philosophies surrounding the creation of 'efficient' organizational forms. To construct a method for comparative international management that is sensitive to these twin forces of action and ideology, we turn to the traditions of anthropology. In particular, we demonstrate how community-based ethnography sheds light on the tougher edges of global restructuring, and facilitates the grounded analysis of the 'new organizational ideology' that has taken root throughout developed capitalist economies, regardless of national differences in business systems. © 2007 Sage Publications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-344
Number of pages20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


  • Belonging
  • Communities
  • Comparative international management
  • Ethnography
  • Ideology
  • Varieties of capitalism


Dive into the research topics of 'At the sharp end of new organizational ideologies: Ethnography and the study of multinationals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this