Abstract

The use of ethnographic methods in construction management is increasing.
Impression management challenges the ethnographic researcher, who follows one actor on a building site. Shadowing allows a researcher to follow particular
participants to observe their bodily movements and use of artefacts. Impression management happens when the observee acts in a different way than he/she would routinely, due to the presence of an audience. In the case of shadowing, the researcher can become an audience, as will the readers of the findings from the investigation. A study into contract managers' practices on-site uses shadowing as its primary method for data collection. A contract manager is being observed to gain an insight into the practices in which he participates. However, impression management presents a very noticeable challenge from the beginning of the study. We show how the researcher is perceived as an audience and how this prompts the observed contract manager to reflect on the practices on-site in dialogue with the researcher. On this basis, we raise the question, whether the continued performance of impression management by practitioners due to prolonged fieldwork can lead the observed practice to shift. In conclusion, we argue that the use of shadowing on a building site allows for insights into the complicated practices on site, but it may also influence and displace these practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 36th Annual ARCOM Conference
EditorsLloyd Scott, Chris Neilson
Number of pages10
Publication date2020
Pages455-464
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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