Official course description:

Full info last published 15/11-22
Course info
ECTS points:
Course code:
Participants max:
Offered to guest students:
Offered to exchange students:
Offered as a single subject:
Price for EU/EEA citizens (Single Subject):
21250 DKK
BSc in Global Business Informatics
Course manager
Head of PhD School, associate professor
Assistant Professor
Associate Professor
Course semester
Forår 2023
30 January 2023
25 August 2023
Exam type
ekstern censur
Grade Scale
Exam Language

The students learn to conduct work place studies and analyses through the use of ethnographic methods.


Today most new technologies are collaborative and supposed to support multiple, heterogeneous participants engaged in cooperative activities in various private and public domains. Designing, constructing, and integrating collaborative technologies within organizational settings requires carefully executed analyses of the particular organization in terms of IT strategies, work practices, and new technology opportunities. Workplace studies applying ethnographic field methods have proved to support such careful analysis.

In the course the students will be introduced to methods for conducting ethnographic studies with the aim of re-configuring practices and technologies to support particular organizational settings. The objectives of the course are thus to qualify the students to plan, participate, and report upon an ethnographic workplace study conducted within an organization with the aim of re-configuring practices and technologies to support the particular organizational setting. The students will learn to apply theoretical socio-technical concepts to argue, explain, and reflect upon workplace studies aimed at understanding business and workplace realities.

Formal prerequisites
Information about the course of study This course is part of the second semester in the bachelor's degree in Global Business Informatics.
Intended learning outcomes

After the course, the student should be able to:

  • Define a research question within the area of workplace studies related to IT, process, and organisation
  • Identify, select, and analyse relevant material (theoretical concepts, method(s), and empirical work) for the research question
  • Conduct an ethnographic workplace study within an organisation with the aim of re-configuring practices and technologies to support the particular organisational setting
  • Report and communicate the project work (research question, theoretical background, method(s), analysis, argument, and result) in relation to academic standards
  • Argue and reflect essential challenges and theoretical concepts relevant when executing workplace studies to understand business and workplace realities
Learning activities

The schedule consists of lectures, exercises and project work in groups with supervision. See blog for more information. The starting point for both course work and project work is the introduction of methods for executing ethnographic fieldwork for design. It will be combined with introductions to fundamental theoretical concepts within the field of workplace studies. In the course work the students will be divided into groups of (4)5 participants that will plan and conduct a workplace study within an organization of their choice. Each group will hand in an academic project report of the workplace studies (in total 30 pages). In the project work the groups will reflect upon their ethnographic workplace study in order to formulate a relevant research question, which they will investigate and finally report upon in an academic report. The project report will be a full academic report, where the students identify, define, analyze their empirical material which they already collected as parts of the course work. In this way the students can choose to focus more on e.g. ethnographic field methods, organizational theory, collaborative technologies, or other aspects connected to their empirical case, they might find interesting. The students will be expected to read approximately 2 articles for each lecture. The exercises will be in the form of supervision as well as project work and other activities. One day a week will be dedicated to group work. The course will be planned in such a way that the students will be able to follow the course including all preparations, participation in class, exercises, empirical work, and readings using 20 hours a week in total.

Course literature

In order to access some of the articles we read during the semester, you need to be on ITU's net.   NB: Please also note that syllabus might change before the course starts.

Bjørn, P., and Rødje, K. (2008): Triage drift: A worksplace study in a pediatric emergency department. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 17(4), pp. 395-419. You need to be on ITU's net in order to access the article for free, use the log in from your organisation or via KUs library.

Blomberg, J., J. Giacomi, et al. (1993). Ethnographic Field Methods and their Relation to Design. Participatory Design: Principles and Practices. D. Schuler and A. Namioka. London, UK, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publisher. Chapter 7, pp. 123-155. (The book can also be found at Copenhagen University library).

Crang, M. & Cook, I. (2007): Doing Ethnographies. Sage. Chapter 4 "Participant observation" p. 37-59 and chapter 5 "Interviewing" p. 60-89.  In the online version you read p. 21-54:  Chap. 4, part ii "Particpant Observation" + part iii "Interviewing".  Access via Copenhagen University library.   You can also find the book online, but note that there might be deviations from the hard copy used for the lecture. 

Forsythe, D. (1999). "It's just a matter of common sense: Ethnography as Invisible Work.” Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal 8: 127-145. 

Star, S. L. & Strauss, A. (1999): Layers of Silence, Arenas of Voice: The Ecology of Visible and Invisible Work.  CSCW, March 1999, Vol. 8, Issue 1, pp. 9-30. You need to be on ITU's net in order to access the article for free.

Schmidt, K., and Bannon, L. (1992): Taking CSCW Seriously: Supporting Articulation Work. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 1(1-2), pp. 7-40

Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (2011). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. University of Chicago Press. Chap. 6 "Processing Fieldnotes"

Lichtman, M. (2013): Making Meaning From Your Data.  Qualitative Research in Education: A User's Guide. Sage. Chap. 12.

Heath, C., Knoblauch, H., Luff, P. (2000) Technology and social interaction: The emergence of “workplace studies.” British Journal of Sociology 51, 299–320.

Schmidt, K., (1999) Of maps and scripts the status of formal constructs in cooperative work. Information and Software Technology 41, 319–329

Suchman, Lucy. 2002. “Located Accountabilities in Technology Production.” Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems 14 (2).

Randall, D., Harper, R. & Rouncefield, M. (2007): Chapter 8 Organisations and Work in Fieldwork for Design. Theory and Practice. Springer.  We will focus on pages 221-253. 

Dreyfus, H. "Intuitive, Deliberative, and Calculative Models of Expert Performance,” Naturalistic Decision Making 1997, pp 17-28.

Bossen et al. (2019): Data work in healthcare: An Introduction, Health Informatics Journal, Vol. 25(3), pp. 49ers 65-474.

Mike Robinson. 1993. Design for unanticipated use..... Proceedings of the Third European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work 13–17 September 1993, Milan, Italy ECSCW ’93: 187–202.

Suchman, L. (1994): Do Categories Have Politics? The language/action perspective reconsidered. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 2, pp. 177-190.

Winograd, T. (1994): Categories, Disciplines, and Social Coordination. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 2, pp. 191-197.

Grudin, J., and Grinter, R. (1995): Ethnography and design. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 3, pp. 55-59.

Orlikowski, W. (1995): Categories: Concept, content and context. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): An International Journal, 3, pp. 73-78.

Student Activity Budget
Estimated distribution of learning activities for the typical student
  • Preparation for lectures and exercises: 20%
  • Lectures: 15%
  • Exercises: 15%
  • Assignments: 15%
  • Project work, supervision included: 20%
  • Exam with preparation: 15%
Ordinary exam
Exam type:
D: Submission of written work with following oral, External (7-point scale)
Exam variation:
D2G: Submission for groups with following oral exam supplemented by the submission. Shared responsibility for the report.
Exam submission description:
Project report of 30 pages in total, using the template provided at the course
Group submission:
  • 5(6) persons per group
Exam duration per student for the oral exam:
30 minutes
Group exam form:
Mixed exam 1 : Individual and joint student presentation followed by an individual and a group dialogue. The students make a joint presentation followed by a group dialogue. Subsequently the students are having individual examination with presentation and / or dialogue with the supervisor and external examiner while the rest of the group is outside the room.

Exam type:
D: Submission of written work with following oral, External (7-point scale)
Exam variation:
D2G: Submission for groups with following oral exam supplemented by the submission. Shared responsibility for the report.

Time and date
Ordinary Exam - submission Wed, 24 May 2023, 08:00 - 14:00
Ordinary Exam Wed, 14 June 2023, 09:00 - 17:00
Ordinary Exam Thu, 15 June 2023, 09:00 - 17:00
Ordinary Exam Fri, 16 June 2023, 04:55 - 16:55
Ordinary Exam Mon, 19 June 2023, 09:00 - 17:00
Ordinary Exam Tue, 20 June 2023, 09:00 - 17:00
Reexam - submission Wed, 26 July 2023, 08:00 - 14:00
Reexam Fri, 18 Aug 2023, 09:00 - 15:00