Using Photographs to Research Organizations

Joshua L. Ray and Anne D. Smith, both of the University of Tennessee, published “Using Photographs to Research Organizations: Evidence, Considerations, and Application in a Field Study” on December 21st, 2011 in Organizational Research Methods. To view other OnlineFirst articles, please click here.

The abstract:

Despite calls for more visual methodologies in organizational research, the use of photographs remains sparse. Organizational research could benefit from the inclusion of photographs to track contemporary change processes in an organization and change processes over time, as well as to incorporate diverse voices within organizations, to name a few advantages. To further understanding, the authors identify researcher choices related to the use of photographs in organizational research, clarify the advantages and disadvantages of these choices, and discuss ethical and other special considerations of the use of photographs. They highlight several organizational areas of research, primarily related to the management discipline, that could benefit from the inclusion of photographs. Finally, the authors describe how they used photographs in a study of one organization and specifically how their intended research design with photographs changed over the course of the study as well as how photographs helped to develop new theoretical insights. Photographic research methods represent a viable—but underleveraged—method that should be more fully incorporated in the methodological tool kit of organizational scholars.

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Bala Salisu

At the risk of sounding trite. I must repeat that a picture says more than a thousand words can. Researching any aspect of management using photographs as central tools and materials is certainly interesting. However, we need a well grounded methodology in that regard.

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