An ethnographic study of culture and performance in the UK lingerie industry

Julia A. Smith, Claire England

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This paper examines a particular case of organizational culture, its nature within the work environment, the impact it has on motivation and its interaction with a novel framework of performance measurement. It extends the extant empirical domain of such studies to include a retail unit in the UK lingerie industry. The work is an ethnographic study, and uses participant-observation to focus on the performance framework used and the culture in the unit examined. The evidence shows that a strong culture, in tandem with the innovative package of performance measures in this organization, together lead to enhanced performance. The paper makes an empirical contribution to the literature by using ethnographical evidence on accounting practice, as moderated by organizational culture in this unique setting. From a practical standpoint, it proposes that managers pay more attention to the influence of accounting on organizational culture (and vice versa), when setting performance targets and goals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-258
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Issue number3
Early online date10 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • performance
  • culture
  • ethnography
  • participant observation
  • sociometeriality

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