Qualitative and ethnographic situational analysis

As an extension to grounded theory and in combination with ethnographic methods of data collection, situational analysis (Clarke 2005) offers the possibility to discover latent, overlooked or unknown actors, discourses and numerous elements surrounding an object of investigation and to find a focus for further data collection and question development. Producing maps enables an initial orientation in relation to possible socio-technical and socio-political references as well as the policy positions of actors.

The complexity of our society is approached from a postmodern perspective. The plurality of environments and viewpoints is seen here as an opportunity to develop questions and preliminary concepts. The questions for contributions to alternative futures are often hidden. They are not found in a supposed order, but rather in the unmanageable complexity of human and non-human actors, spatial and temporal references, and the discourses and actions between them. The original issue/case is then only the first point of orientation for collecting data and can, in an exploratory sense, open up new, more important questions. When paired with a profound understanding of stakeholders and a systemic perspective, this can be a first building block for organizations to develop a joint project to either link existing challenges with the right questions, diagnostic tools and strategy instruments, or to help identify development opportunities.