Doing Ethnography in Business : Identity Manipulation and its Implications

Zhu, Zoe (2020) Doing Ethnography in Business : Identity Manipulation and its Implications. International Journal of Business Anthropology, 10 (1).

Full text not available from this repository.


This paper is an autoethnography of my experiences during participant observation in a business organization in Hong Kong. The paper examines an ethnographer’s manipulations of cultural identity in the field, its connection to the cultural context of Hong Kong society, and its implications for business. Furthermore, this paper analyzes, through the lens of an anthropologist who was born in mainland China and educated both in mainland China and Japan, the process of identity manipulation based on 1.5 years of fieldwork in a Japanese multinational retailer in Hong Kong. During my participation in the retail shops as a full-time intern, I assumed multiple cultural identities related to ethnicity and social class, and sometimes I felt the necessity to manipulate these identities to seem like an insider to achieve my personal research objectives. This paper describes the process of identity manipulation to reveal the complex web of identity, society, politics, and culture, and how individuals can take an active role in self-interpretation in the realization of personal aims. It also discusses the basic skills which a good ethnographer should possess, such as being a silent listener, maintaining a neutral stance, and thinking holistically; these skills are similar to those needed by a good manager.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
International Journal of Business Anthropology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Research Output Funding/no_not_funded
?? no - not funded ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
13 Jul 2023 15:25
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 23:55