Encouraging the managerial imagination: Ethnography, smart phones and novel ways of seeing

Robert McMurray*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper invites discussion of the role, potential and limitations of employing the ethnographic lens in undergraduate management teaching as a response to growing concerns over the usefulness of critical management education. Specifically, it outlines the case for employing the smart phone as a novel channel through which to introduce would-be managers to new 'ways of seeing' (Berger, 1972). Describing how this is achieved in practice through the production of photo essays and online films, the paper contributes to our understanding of how the apparent freedom afforded by the ethnographic lens to 'see anew' is necessarily constructed through the disciplinary effects of ethics, copyrights and the privileging of a very particular academic audience. The result is a necessarily circumscribed pedagogic space that nonetheless allows room for the doubt, uncertainty, contradiction and experimentation that is essential for more engaged learning and critical managing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-39
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • CMS
  • Critical management studies
  • Education
  • Ethnography
  • Film
  • Imagination
  • Learning
  • Managing
  • Novel
  • Phone
  • Teaching

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