Making and breaking the manual – a case of tests and rapport in an interdisciplinary team

Helene Ilkjær, Mette My Madsen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Purpose: This article engages the concept of tests–here understood as social tests of collaborative abilities in the interdisciplinary teamwork–to examine how they are central to an applied anthropologist's positioning and influence within an organization. Design/methodology/approach: Presented as an auto-ethnographic methodological exploration, the article takes its point of departure in ethnographic material from the work by Helene Ilkjær as an Industrial Postdoc with an interdisciplinary team of engineers, scientists and designers in a Danish technology start-up company. Findings: Within this ethnographic context, the article examines not only the case of “the manual” to unfold how the dynamics of careful development but also notorious circumvention of manuals came to serve as social tests–moments that fundamentally changed the anthropologist's position within the interdisciplinary team. Analytically, the manual serves as a prism through which it explores the slippery and negotiable nature of the anthropologist's professional position as an Industrial Postdoc–suspended between anthropology “for” and “of” the company, officially employed by the company while also engaged in academic research. Originality/value: The article offers anthropologists a tool to visualize the different movements and placements within continua of professional positionality while working as applied researchers with(in) private sector organizations.
TidsskriftJournal of Organizational Ethnography
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)173-188
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 9 mar. 2020
Udgivet eksterntJa