The Ethnographic Method in CSR Research The Role and Importance of Methodological Fit

A. Erin Bass, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Ivana Milosevic, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

This final, published version of the article can be found here:


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) research has burgeoned in the past several decades. Despite significant advances, our review of the literature reveals a problematic gap: we know little about how culture, practices, and interactions shape CSR. Upon further investigation, we discover that limited research utilizes ethnography to understand CSR, which may provide some explanation for this gap. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to illustrate the utility of ethnography for advancing business and society research via a multistage framework that demonstrates how three different types of ethnography may be applied to the exploration of CSR. We specifically focus on the alignment between stages in the research process, or methodological fit, as a key criterion of high quality research. In doing so, we provide researchers embracing different worldviews a tool they may utilize to conduct and evaluate ethnographies in business and society research.