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Video Clip — Paul Lawrence on tribes
Actually, George Lombard arranged it for me to go into the Sylvania Electric plant, which was in Boston. And we went in and talked to the plant manager and others who—agreed that I could come in and start working as a researcher in the factory.
And what I was told by George was to go in there regularly, day after day, two or three days a week, what turned out to be upwards of a year. And I was to interview people from the bottom up, and from side to side, all throughout this electronics plant. And keep listening, and talking, and observing until I really understand how that organization worked. So it was we were told we were to act like an anthropologist going to study a strange tribe. That was kind of the model that were held up: "Look at this as just a bunch of strangers, and you're trying to understand the tribe." . . . .
And it was a wonderful experience. Kind of confusing at the time. But it really did give me an understanding of the inner workings of organization life in a way that I don't think can be acquired in much any other way. And it gave me a methodology and a comfort with it that stood me in good stead in many a subsequent organizational research, that I learned I could do in much shorter time, but still get to the essence of how the interconnections all work, and who's who, and how the whole system ties together. And so that was the basis for my dissertation, and actually I coauthored a couple books that came out of that whole work.