Balancing Breadth and Depth in Qualitative Research: Conceptualizing performativity through multi-sited ethnography

Ajnesh Prasad, Masoud Shadnam

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


While performativity, as a theoretical concept, has gained much purchase in the field of management and organization studies (MOS), there remains a dearth of empirical work operationalizing the idea. In this article, we argue that empirical studies on performativity in organizational settings have been scarce mainly due to two methodological challenges: (1) the problem of breadth, and (2) the problem of depth. In terms of breadth, to study how a cultural/symbolic construction becomes performative, researchers need to follow threads of meanings and practices that stretch in time and space beyond the scope of what most methodologies afford. In terms of depth, studying performativity requires an in-depth, contextualized understanding of how people live in and through the symbolic world, which few methodologies possess the analytical resources to unravel. We offer multi-sited ethnography as a promising methodological approach that has the potential to concomitantly overcome both challenges. Through a vignette of a study that one of the authors conducted in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we illustrate how multi-sited ethnography enables empirical research on performativity in MOS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-854
Number of pages24
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Palestine
  • ethnography
  • fieldwork
  • methodology
  • multi-sited ethnography
  • performativity
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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