The Promise and Potential of Visual Organizational Research

Kunter, Aylin and Bell, Emma (2006). The Promise and Potential of Visual Organizational Research. M@n@gement, 9(3) pp. 169–189.




This article aims to convey the promise and potential of visual methods in organizational research. It begins by reviewing the status of visual research in the social sciences in order to explore its potential contribution to organizational research, distinguishing four categories of visual data used by organizational analysts. Using examples from our own ongoing research, we argue that the collection and analysis of visual images has the potential to enhance organizational research by encouraging a focus on aspects of organizational culture that are less easily captured through the collection and analysis of written or spoken words alone. We review the challenges posed by use of visual methods, including issues of access, ethics and copyright law and the importance of theoretical perspective in informing data analysis. Finally, we argue that visual methods have the potential to enable development of a more reflexive approach to organizational research, using examples from our own research to illustrate how this can be developed.

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