In this short post, we reflect on the fieldnote-writing method presented in our 2020 paper entitled "(Inter)subjectivity in the research pair: Countertransference and radical reflexivity in organizational research". While fieldnote-writing is often associated with a lone researcher in a distant land, we have found it useful as a collective process in both organizational and field research. The process we developed may prove especially useful to researchers and practitioners who already use a psychosocial approach to organizations. And, our fieldnote-writing method, when used in concert with organizational assessment, aids in making both the analysis and intervention phases of the work more meaningful. Throughout the paper, we share our ‘behind-the-scenes’ experiences, demonstrating “how a research pair working together in real time can become aware of their intersubjective processes, fold together multiple dimensions of experience (conscious and unconscious), and co-construct a shared understanding of organizational dynamics” (p. 1). We also share how we discovered that the research process can yield much more than we initially thought possible. Discovering those hidden possibilities is what reflexivity is all about - and it is at the heart of the psychoanalytic endeavor.
The free association narrative method comprises four principles, or techniques: ask open-ended questions, avoid asking "why", mirror participants ordering and phrasing, and foster the emergence of stories. In some ways the method follows the fundamental rule of psychoanalysis “by eliciting narrative structured according to the principle of free association [in order to] secure access to a person’s concerns which would probably not be visible using a traditional [interview] method” (Hollway & Jefferson, 2000, p. 37). As such, this approach grapples with the anxiety and defensiveness of both researchers and participants, acknowledges that interpersonal interactions are filled with projections, introjections, transferences, and countertransferences, and draws our attention to the need for reflexive research practices.