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Abstract

Abstract

Participant observation is an appropriate research method for engaged practitioner-scholars seeking in-depth insights available from qualitative field research. Conventional approaches to participant observation include ethnography and action research. However, conventional approaches were originally developed with the assumption that the roles of practitioner and scholar are separate. We propose a new approach, engaged participant observation, which recognizes the integration of research and practice roles. We illustrate the application of engaged participant observation, and its special demands, through a completed executive doctoral dissertation conducted by second author and supervised by the first author. We address the specific tensions and demands of engaged participant observation, including issues of identity work, potentially biased interpretation, ethical conduct, and publication. Our analysis provides pragmatic guidance for conducting qualitative data collection and analysis in organizations in which the researcher is an engaged participant.

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