Mouly, V.S. & Sankaran, J. K. (1995). Organizational Ethnography: An illustrative application in the study of Indian R&D settings. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Mouly & Sankaran (1995) provide an organizational ethnography of two research and development (R&D) environments in India: public sector and private sector. Though the stated goal of the research is comparison of the R&D settings towards their end of proving the hypothesis that public sector R&D is inefficent, they focus much more attention on the qualitative method than the findings. For example, they title their book, Organizational Ethnography: An illustrative application in the study of R&D settings and give disproportionate attention to generic discussion of ethnography and ethnographic methods. They use ethnographic paradigms from cultural anthropology to set up their data analysis, discussing Gregory’s (1983) three dimensions of contrast in cultural paradigms for organizational studies: holistic-particulate, explanatory-interpretive, and native view-external view. They do not ever specifically state where they intend their approach to fall in these dimensions proposed by Gregory. They do set up a list of domains for inquiry in their data analysis, focusing on themes emerging from the data. Their findings confirm their hypothesis that public sector R&D is inefficient and they provide a model of the ineffectiveness of public sector R&D teams.

Mouly and Sankaran’s (1995) study provides a useful look at the application of the qualitative paradigm to organizational research in both exemplary and cautionary ways. First, it will be an important part of my research and the formation of theoretical frameworks and plans for data analysis to take an interdisciplinary approach, pulling from literature in organizational development and several other business-related fields. Secondly, Mouly and Sankaran’s (1995) disproportionate attention to the ethnographic methodology may reflect a defensive stance because of a history of placing more value on quantitative methods in this field. This same historical bias towards quantitative methods exists in instructional design. Finally, I felt frustrated as a reader when Mouly and Sankaran did not clearly connect the dots between their research design and a theoretical framework; this oversight highlighted for me the importance of clearly laying out my approach.