Organizational Culture Shock: Ethnographic Fieldwork Strategies for the Novice Health Science Researcher

Cindy K. Malachowski


The increased use of ethnography in health science research warrants an in-depth examination of the experiential account of ethnographic data collection. Using OBERG's classic definition of "culture shock" as a framework, I share my experience as a novice researcher conducting fieldwork as part of an institutional ethnography on workplace mental health. I draw attention to the typically unspoken aspects of ethnography throughout this account by providing insights on role contradictions, in addition to ethical, emotional, and practical issues that are not readily addressed in traditional methodological descriptions of ethnography. I conclude with a variety of strategies for the novice health science researcher to effectively negotiate some of the typical dilemmas experienced in this type of research.



Culture shock, fieldwork, ethnography, student researcher, health science research

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Copyright (c) 2015 Cindy K. Malachowski

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