In this paper, I explored how to research a sensitive topic such as gossip in organizations and used a narrative approach to illustrate the methodological and ethical issues that come up when considering a variety of research methods. I first attempted to conduct an ethnographic research on a project group from a Dutch university undergoing a major change. At the very beginning of the project, as a participant observer, I struggled to remain an outsider, or a “fly on the wall.” But as issues of power came into play and access became increasingly problematic, I moved towards the role of an “observing participant.” Therefore, in order to research gossip and some of the hidden dimensions of organizational life, I turned to auto- and self-ethnography as a way to regain access and greater authenticity. While following this route presented its share of ethical and methodological issues, it also provided valuable insights that could be of value to researchers attempting to study sensitive topics such as gossip in organizations.


Gossip, Ethnography, Autoethnography, Research Methods

Author Bio(s)

Dominique Darmon is a senior lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. She teaches Journalism and Media, Organizational Communications and Cross Cultural Communication Management, and is a member of the research group Change Management at her university. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Dominique Darmon, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Faculty Management & Organization, Johanna Westerdijkplein 75, 2521 EN The Hague, Netherlands; E-mail: d.darmon@hhs.nl.


The author would like to thank Jacco van Uden and the colleagues from the research group Change Management of The Hague University for their guidance and feedback.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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