After Herzog: blurring fact and fiction in visual organizational ethnography

Markus Walz*, Patrizia Hoyer, Matt Statler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce the unique artistic approach of film-maker Werner Herzog as an inspiration to rethink ethnographic studies in general and the notion of reflexivity in particular. Design/methodology/approach: This paper reviews the particularities of Werner Herzog’s approach to filmmaking, linking them to the methodological tradition of visual ethnography and especially the debate about the role of reflexivity and performativity in research. Findings: Herzog’s conceptualization of meaning as “ecstatic truth” offers an avenue for visual organizational ethnographers to rethink reflexivity and performativity, reframe research findings and reorganize research activities. The combination of multiple media and the strong authorial involvement exhibited in Herzog’s work, can inspire and guide the development of “meaningful” organizational ethnographies. Originality/value: The paper argues that practicing visual organizational ethnography “after Herzog” offers researchers an avenue to engage creatively with their research in novel and highly reflexive ways. It offers a different way to think through some of the challenges often associated with ethnographic research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-218
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Organizational Ethnography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Performativity
  • Reflexivity
  • Visual organizational ethnography
  • Werner Herzog


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