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

A. Erin Bass, Ivana Milosevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


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. On 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 article 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-215
Number of pages42
JournalBusiness and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • corporate social responsibility (CSR)
  • ethnography
  • methodological fit
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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