26 March 2010

What does ethnography give you that statistics don’t?

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Qualitative, and especially observational or ethnographic, research enables us to delve much more deeply into the relationship between our firm and its product/service and the customer, argues Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, in the Harvard Business Review.

“Because we aren’t obsessed about adding all the responses together for ‘rigorous quantitative analysis’, we can let the customer use his own voice/words/vocabulary. Because customers often struggle to put into words their feelings about products, services or providers, we can watch them do what they really do, rather than what they say they do — and may not actually do. This all enables a much more nuanced view of our customer.”

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