2 Citations (Scopus)


The use of ethnographic methods in construction management research is increasing as a means of revealing local and often unspoken ways of knowing and achieving new insights into the enduring challenges of the industry. Impression management activities, however, challenge the ethnographic researcher. Impression management happens when observees act in a different way than they would routinely, due to the presence of an audience. In the paper, we draw on data collected as a part of a wider ethnographic study to illustrate how the relationship between observer and observees can be understood through the lens of impression management. In particular, we show how the researcher assumes a dual role as both an audience and a storyteller in ethnographic studies. The researcher can thus be seen as an audience for the observees in their attempts to present themselves as agreeable and perform accordingly in front of the researcher as well as each other. This happens in part, as the observees attribute the researcher the role as storyteller, knowing that accounts of their practice and performance may be communicated to the research community and the industry in general. While impression management complicates the relationship between the observees and the observer, and can be seen as a potential source of bias, we also suggest that it presents an opportunity for increased empirical robustness of ethnographic findings if acknowledged.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)383-397
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2021


  • Ethnography
  • Impression management
  • Methodology
  • Methods
  • Qualitative data


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