For nearly 40 years researchers have been using narratives and stories to understand larger cultural issues through the lenses of their personal experiences. There is an increasing recognition that autoethnographic approaches to work and organizations add to our knowledge of both personal identity and organizational scholarship. By using personal narrative and autoethnographic approaches, this research focuses on the working lives of individual people within the organizations for which they work.

This international handbook includes chapters that provide multiple overarching perspectives to organizational autoethnography including views from fields such as critical, postcolonial and queer studies. It also tackles specific organizational processes, including organizational exits, grief, fandom, and workplace bullying, as well as highlighting the ethical implications of writing organizational research from a personal narrative approach. Contributors also provide autoethnographies about the military, health care and academia, in addition to approaches from various subdisciplines such as marketing, economics, and documentary film work.

Contributions from the US, the UK, Europe, and the Global South span disciplines such as organizational studies and ethnography, communication studies, business studies, and theatre and performance to provide a comprehensive map of this wide-reaching area of qualitative research. This handbook will therefore be of interest to both graduate and postgraduate students as well as practicing researchers.

Winner of the 2021 National Communication Association Ethnography Division Best Book Award

Winner of the 2021 Distinguished Book on Business Communication Award, Association for Business Communication


List of Figures

List of Tables


Preface: Organizing a Handbook and What’s Inside

Andrew F. Herrmann

Section I: Situating Organizational Autoethnography

1. The Historical and Hysterical Narratives of Organization and Autoethnography

Andrew F. Herrmann

2. Life between Interlocking Oppressions: An Intersectional Approach to Organizational Autoethnography

Helena Liu

3. Autoethnography through the Prism of Foucault’s Care of the Self

Leah Tomkins

4. Queering Organizational Research Through Autoethnography

Jamie McDonald and Nick Rumens

5. Postcolonial Organizational Autoethnography: Journey into Reflexivity, Erasures, and Margins

Mahuya Pal, Beatriz Nieto Fernandez, and Nivethitha Ketheeswaran

6. Aggression, Bullying and Mobbing in the Workplace: An Autoethnographic Exploration

Mpho M. Pheko, Thabo L. Seleke, Joy Tauetsile, and Motsomi N. Marobela

Section II: Autoethnography Across Organizational Disciplines

7. On Not Seeing Myself in the Research on Veterans

Jeni R. Hunniecutt

8. Navigating the Narrow Spaces: A Critical Autoethnography of Life in the (Postmodern) Neoliberal University

Christopher N. Poulos

9. Autoethnography and Information Technology

Niamh Riordan

10. Organizational Autoethnographies of Economy, Finance, Business and Management: Reflections and Possibilities

Jeff Hearn, Karl-Erik Sveiby, and Anika Thym

11. The Discomfort of Autoethnography in Academic Marketing Research

Chris Hackley

Section III: Organizations and Organizing

12. Billable (H)ours: Autoethnography, Ambivalence, and Academic Labor in a Healthcare Organization

Nicole Defenbaugh, Jay Baglia, and Elissa Foster

13. Birthing Autoethnographic Philanthropy, Healing, and Organizational Change: That Baby’s Name

Abby Lackey

14. Organizing Desire: The Queer Bar

Tony E. Adams

15. Polypreneur: An Autoethnography of Owning Multiple Businesses, Simultaneously

Stephanie K. Webb

16. Organizational Resistance and Autoethnography

Sanne Frandsen and R. Duncan M. Pelly

Section IV: Organizing Organizational Identities

17. Grieving Kathy: An Interactional Autoethnography of Cultivating Sustainable Organizations

Danielle M. Stern and Linda D. Manning

18. Finding the "I" in Fan: Organizing Around Performed Identities within Fan Spaces

Adam Tyma

19. Pieced Together. Writing Invisible (Dis)abilities in Academia

Katrine Meldgaard Kjær and Noortje van Amsterdam

20. "Switch Off the Headwork!": Everyday Organizational Crossings in Identity Transformations from Academic to Distance Runner

Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson and John Hockey

21. An Autoethnographic Account of (Pre)Retirement Socialization: Examining Anticipatory Messages About Workforce Exit

Lindsey B. Anderson

22. Walking Home: An Autoethnography of Hiking, Cultural Identity, and (De)colonization

Phiona Stanley

Section V: Writing and Evaluating Organizational Autoethnography

23. Learning through the Process: Failure, Frustration and Forward Movement in Autoethnography

Katherine Denker, Kayla Rausch, and Savaughn Williams

24. The IRB’s Stone Wall: Rollercoaster of Doom

Thomas W. Townsend, Angela Duggins, Brandon Bragg, Tess McCoy, Juliette Guerrault, Jessica Newell, and Hannah Tiberi

25. Anchoring the Big Tent: How Organizational Autoethnography Exemplifies and Stretches Notions of Qualitative Quality

Cary J. S. López and Sarah J. Tracy

26. Towards a Model of Collaborative Organizational Autoethnography: The More the Merrier?

Sally Sambrook and Clair Doloriert

27. Autoethnographic Data as Abductive Experiences

Wafa Said Mosleh

Section VI: Organizing the Future of Organizational Autoethnography

28. Framing Stories from the Academic Margins: Documentary as Qualitative Inquiry and Critical Community Engagement

Brian Johnston

29. Time and the Writing of Personal Narratives in Organizational Ethnography

Mette Gislev Kjærsgaard and Henry Larson

30. Organizing Autoethnography on the Internet: Models and Challenges

Maha Bali

31. A CCO Perspective on Autoethnography: Researching, Organizing and Constituting

Frédérik Matte and Geneviève Boivin

32. Conclusion: Organizing the Future of Organizational Autoethnography

Andrew F. Herrmann