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Theoretical framework: I will be guided most generally by the interpretive perspective, and
more specifically by Alvesson’s (1996) situational approach. The interpretive perspective
places the focus on interpreting the meanings and perspectives of cultural members, and how
these meanings are negotiated (Trujillo, 1992). I am exploring the meanings the sales staff and
customers have for themselves as individuals and for their relationships, as well as the meanings
sales staff have for the organisation, group, and profession of which they are members. The
situational approach directs me to choose one or a few specific interactions to explore in depth.
Thus, an appropriate means of investigating the topic from this perspective is observation of
conversation, plus interviewing the interactants to understand the meanings they have for their
symbolic interactions. [Briefly identify and explain the theoretical framework you will use to
guide your investigation, how it fits your purpose and its implications for the research
1. Conduct a literature review on leadership and communication in SMTs.
2. Observe the group four hours per week for six weeks, focusing mostly on conversations at
team meetings, especially those conversations in which the group addresses changes to their
work processes and issues of team relationships and identity(ies).
3. Interview team members to clarify and provide insight into conversations. I will attempt to
conduct these interviews shortly after conversations of interest. While the interviews will not
be formal or structured, the kinds of questions I will ask include the following. The general
strategy for the interviews is to start off with broad questions and follow up on the
interviewee’s responses, to capture her or his meanings and to avoid imposing my meanings
on the interviewee.
a. Tell me about the conversation you just had with X.
b. What were you thinking during the conversation
c. What do you think she/he was thinking
d. What do you think she/he was trying to do (or accomplish) in the conversation
e. What did you mean when you said, “......”
f. What were you thinking when you said that
g. What do you think she meant when she said “......”
h. When you think about what you did and said in that conversation, how would you
4. Undertake a situational analysis of the field notes and interview notes, guided by Alvesson’s
5. Write a research report that combines my understanding of the relevant theory and previous
research with the results of my empirical research.
[Describe in detail the steps you will take in attempting to answer your research question]
Prepare proposal by 1 April
Complete literature review by 15 April
Complete fieldwork by 22 May
Complete analysis by 29 May
Give presentation on 3 June
Complete final report by 16 June
Limitations: Time constraints of the semester require less time than may be ideal for an
ethnographic study. By being in the organisation for only four hours a week for five weeks,