Workshop investigates the field of Administrative Ethnography


A collaborative workshop between the Public-Private Platform at Copenhagen Business School and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government recently took place in Copenhagen organized by the Public-Private Platform.


Workshop investigates the field of Administrative Ethnography

A collaborative workshop between the Public-Private Platform at Copenhagen Business School and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government recently took place in Copenhagen organized by the Public-Private Platform.



The workshop focused on Administrative Ethnography - a field of growing interest in organization studies and political science. With scholars attending from UK, Denmark, Germany, Australia and Switzerland the three day workshop involved 12 paper presentations and in-depth discussions on how to study public administration with an ethnographic lens. The workshop took its point of departure from the acknowledgement that there is little ethnographic research in political science and even less in Public Administration. In Organization Studies, however, ethnography is a well-established approach. Therefore there is great potential in bringing together these disciplines to assess the usefulness of the ‘extended case study’ in studying public administration.

Professor of Government Rod Rhodes and Post.Doc at Copenhagen Business School and member of the Public-Private Platform, Karen Boll, organized the workshop – which followed a PhD course with a similar focus which also took place with the assistance of the PPP at Copenhagen Business School.
After the events, Rhodes commented:
“Six days of back-to-back papers sounds like a recipe for boredom by the megaton. Nothing could be further from the truth. The course for the PhDs was a joy - enthusiasm from all sides and some fascinating fieldwork to boot. In comparison, a workshop with colleagues could have been an anti-climax. It was not. The opportunity to share experiences with like-minded colleagues was seized with both hands not only in the sessions but also in bars and restaurants. It wasn’t tiring or boring – it was refreshing.” 


As a result of the workshop, the editors of Journal of Organizational Ethnography (JOE) have agreed to publish a special issue with a selection of papers from the workshop. The special issue will come out mid 2015 with Rod Rhodes and Karen Boll as guest editors. Editor of the JOE, Mike Rowe, from the University of Liverpool, participated at the workshop and said afterwards:
“One of the joys of editing the Journal of Organizational Ethnography is the opportunity to read and, on this occasion, hear about the experiences of ethnographers in the field.  Their stories are very rarely dull.  And ethnographers are beginning to explore worlds in new ways, presenting their materials in more imaginative ways.  The event demonstrated both the variety and the value of ethnographic work.  But as a public administration specialist myself, I find particular interest in the workplaces explored: co-service centres, planning departments, the aisles of trains and the corridors of power.  I look forward to seeing the Special Issue take shape.”

Likewise the workshop participants described the workshop as productive and exciting. John Boswell from the University of Southampton, who presented, together with Jack Corbett, the paper “An impressionist’s confession” said:“I enjoyed the recent workshop on administrative ethnography at CBS immensely and got an awful lot out of it as well. I think the best thing about it - beyond of course it being in a great city and at a very flash location! - was the way in which it brought together such a diverse group of scholars. It was a truly inter-disciplinary event that fostered critique, learning and friendship with scholars from different geographical areas and disciplinary backgrounds. Our work, and our research networks, will be much the stronger for it.”

Participants: Peter Ribbins, University of Birmingham, R.A.W. Rhodes, University of Southampton, Anne Tiernan, Griffith University, Jack Corbett, Australian National University, John Boswell, University of Southampton, Nina Holm Vohnsen, University of St Andrews & Aarhus University, Sanne Frandsen, University of Southern Denmark, Bagga Bjerge, Aarhus University, Karen Boll, Copenhagen Business School, Michaela Schmidt, ETH Zürich, Departement Architektur, Annika Agger, Roskilde University, Jonathan Hammond, University of Manchester, Csaba Györy, Max Planck Institute, Anja Svejgaard Pors, Metropolitan University College, Copenhagen, Mike Rowe, University of Liverpool 

The CBS Public-Private Platform is looking forward to following the development of the special issue of JOE, and will be back with more information in due course. Academic Director Paul du Gay believes the theme of the workshop has a lot of potential “the Platform is delighted to be able to sponsor this exciting development in the study of contemporary politico-administrative governance and we anticipate it generating a lot of interest and excitement in the years to come. It's a great initiative, and we are very pleased to have hosted here at the PPP'.

Download the call for paper for the workshop:cfp_-_administrative_ethnography.pdf

Sidst opdateret: Public-Private Platform // 17/12/2017