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Finding the way in to a global industry! The usefulness of elite events to social science researchers

Sampson, Helen ORCID: and Turgo, Nelson ORCID: 2018. Finding the way in to a global industry! The usefulness of elite events to social science researchers. Journal of Organizational Ethnography 7 (1) , pp. 2-15. 10.1108/JOE-04-2017-0022

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Gatekeepers in social research constitute an interesting social phenomenon as powerful and normally unpaid agents of research access. Yet, questions relating to the recruitment of potential gatekeepers and to the nature of the rewards than they might seek are under-considered and locating key gatekeepers is often characterised as a matter of luck or happenstance. This paper suggests that access to gatekeepers in the conduct of social research is critical when engaging with elite organisations and that it is something which cannot be left to chance but needs to be systematically pursued. Using the example of the shipping industry the paper explains how social researchers can make use of their understandings of the non-pecuniary motivations of gatekeepers in seeking research access. Negotiations with gatekeepers are more likely to succeed when researchers are able to mobilise non-financial resources which have some alternative form of ‘exchange value’. Every year executives come together at commercially organized conferences focussed upon human resource management in the shipping industry. At these events, major global players discuss a programme of issues related to the business of recruiting and training seafarers. However, these international conferences are both much more and much less than they seem. This paper explores their purpose and in doing so reveals the ways in which they can be useful to social researchers. It argues that unlike most conferences these can only be seen as ‘field configuring events’ to a very limited extent but that they nonetheless serve an important purpose in securing symbolic, and more significantly reputational, capital for both individual delegates and interested academics. The paper argues that researchers can mobilise such capital in their favour in negotiating research access.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 2046-6749
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 September 2017
Date of Acceptance: 18 September 2017
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2023 21:45

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