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Journal Article

Towards a More Holistic Understanding of Whole Organizational Networks: Anthropological Approaches in Evolving Markets  pp74-84

Nicola Mountford, Threase Kessie

© Oct 2017 Volume 15 Issue 2, Editor: Ann Brown, pp57 - 141

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As markets become increasingly complex it is more and more important that we understand their underlying market networks. While much research has been conducted into the inter‑relationships and impacts between the firm and the network, less attention has been paid to the study of the whole network itself. Understanding the origins, structures, and potential futures of whole market networks is vital to the understanding of whole markets. This is particularly the case in light of the multiplicity of societal and institutional conditions attached to an increasingly globalized economy. The insertion of technology into incumbent markets such as finance or healthcare causes market and network evolutions that firms must understand if they are to navigate them safely. Traditional business research methods are, however, often locked to the firm perspective through case study approaches, or quantitative network analyses. Despite some recent methods that take a more situated, biographical approach, a bird’s eye view of the whole network remains elusive. Anthropological methods offer assistance ‑ both in making sense of the evolution of the network within the market context, and in understanding the intricacies of such networks. Unfortunately, the concept of network analysis remains disconnected across disciplines apart from some exceptions such as Berthod, Grothe‑Hammer and Sydow’s (2016) combining of social network analysis with ethnographic research methods to produce ‘Network Ethnographies.’ We build on that approach, combining market network research methods with ethnographic research methods, illustrated through case examples from our research in the connected health domain. We illustrate ethnography’s potential for in‑depth capture of network detail, showing how ethnographic methods can be used to understand each player’s position and function within that system, as well as reflecting the life and culture of the whole network.


Keywords: whole networks, inter-organizational networks, evolving markets, connected health, network ethnography, anthropological research methods.


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Journal Issue

Volume 15 Issue 2 / Oct 2017  pp57‑141

Editor: Ann Brown

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ec6b0d90e60fa8dcfba4e184b3080a78Dr Ann Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Information Management in the Faculty of Management at Cass Business School and Associate Dean for the Undergraduate programme. She took an MSc (Operational Research) at LSE while working at the British Steel Corporation as an Operational Researcher. She obtained her doctorate from City University in 2005, based on her work into the problems and potential of Information Systems applications to create Business Value for organisations. She supports a number of IS academic conferences through her work as a member of conference committees. She was a member of the editorial panel for Information and Management until 2008. Her research spans the exploitation of IS in organisations, the application of qualitative research methods and the impact of non traditional Teaching and Learning methods on student achievement, such as activity based learning. 


Keywords: qualitative, methodology, saturation, sampling, interview, coding, gerund, data analysis, constructivist grounded theory, whole networks, inter-organizational networks, evolving markets, connected health, network ethnography, anthropological research methods, insider action research, researching entrepreneurship, digital entrepreneurship, Psychogeography, focus groups, career success, gender, qualitative research, corporate culture, CQR, qualitative methods, management research, document analysis, semi-structured interviews, Delphi, Delphi method characteristics, Delphi method variants, Information systems research, Taxonomy, Taxonomy development, Phenomenology, Arts Research, Qualitative Methodology, Alchemy Methodology, arts-based research, Husserl


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