“Would you like coffee?”: Using the researcher’s insider and outsider positions as a sensitizing concept in a cross-organisational field study

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The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the notions of insiderness and oursiderness serve as a sensitizing concept (Blumer 1954) in the analysis of cross-organisational learning.
The paper is based on an ethnographic field study on learning and innovation in the social and health care educations in Denmark. The social and health care studies are part of the Vocational Education System (VET), which combines coursework at a college and internship in the elder care sector. Throughout their education, the students are required to adapt to new organizational cultures, learning environments and work tasks as they alternate from school to workplaces. Equally, the teachers and workplace supervisors frequently cross organizational boundaries in order to support the students’ learning and wellbeing. Crossing organizational boundaries is often conceptualized as fertile for learning 2 and innovation, because different perspectives meet, and habits are challenged (Engeström 2003). Additionally, recent literature on innovation in the public sector emphasizes collaboration across traditional governmental, organisational, and professional boundaries because it opens the innovation cycle to a variety of actors and taps into a variety of innovation resources (Bommert 2010). Both the VET system and the elder care sector encounter demands for innovation, and the overall research project aims at producing new knowledge on public innovation from empirical studies of boundary crossing. This knowledge is important in order to create expansive learning environments (Engeström 2003) and involve many different actors and stakeholders into innovation processes. The researcher position is by nature interactive, which makes it impossible to predict or control (Cassell 2005). In the paper I argue that the actors’ positions in the cross-organisational field are subject to similar unpredictability and resistance to control. Analysing the actors as temporary insiders and outsiders from the perspective of my own temporary positions as a field researcher, turned out to be a strong interpretive device in my attempt to understand learning possibilities and innovation in a cross- organizational field.
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 2012
BegivenhedEthnographic Horizons in Times of Turbulence - Liverpool, Storbritannien
Varighed: 29 aug. 201231 aug. 2012


KonferenceEthnographic Horizons in Times of Turbulence