Posts Tagged ‘Töölöö’

8/1: Over lunch with Dana M. and Anna F., Aleksanteri third floor, I mentioned my recent field trip with Tapani K. to St. Petersburg, Russia, where, instead of heading to Gazprom for an Energy Intensive Seminar, our schedule changed and we walked through a Q and A at the Baltika Beer factory, owned by Danish beer giant, Carlsberg Group.

We all tittled over this choice of venue change, but the reality of the trip raised a series of research questions surrounding method.

I mentioned that our Gazprom visit was likely suspended because of proprietary concerns about sharing information, but during our visit to Baltika we acted like curious academics nonetheless, pestering the tour guide incessantly with questions about production chain.

Actually, I realized that Baltika representatives were indeed quite open to responding to all of our questions, without hesitation. Unlike the energy industry, the brewery guide offered the possibility that studying beer production in Russia could be a fruitful way to have access to (enough) data on global production processes.

In Houston, for example, visiting the oil service company, Schlumberger (see post below), the tour guide suggested the company had total control over production of metals required to assemble parts, and governing over standards ensured reliability of performance. In St. Petersburg, I asked whether Baltika governs over agricultural producers to standardize qualities and quantities of grains. We were told the beer company relies on local growers but could rely on grains shipped from Argentina or Brazil– no solid contracts.

The openness of the entire discussion suggested there are “unmarked” categories of discourse about industry in Russia, where researchers could have access to data than in “marked” industries, such as energy, where gaining access feeds into a kind of desire of — on the one hand of Russian industry’s need to sequester facts, and on the other, of western researchers’ focus on gathering those particularly unavailable facts.

view from libraryHelsinki
street scene

park at night
inland sea

Over lunch, we began discussing the possibility of carrying out interviews among practioners working in Russia, to determine which industries are more open to sharing information as research– energy more closed while with beer– well who knows, perhaps more open. Questions about transparency and access could provide a sense of what types of information could be available for qualitative researchers working with interview and ethnographic materials.

I thought at that moment, of how open the Norwegians are when talking about energy industry.

Two additional points of relevance:

First, researchers having written about access to Russian energy industry have in their personal possession some sense of how transparency is constructed. Also, how would a comparison of industry transparency between Norway and Russia appear. That is, in addition to selecting industry based on open exchange within Russia– also select an industry that as of yet has not developed the appropriate consciousness of having to sequester knowledge. Finally, how could a comparison of Norwegian/Russian practices over transparency take place.

In short, three types of comparison: (1) between “marked” (energy) and “unmarked” (beer) industry; (2) across Russian and Norway’s energy industry practioners looking at forms of sequestration and transparency; (3) among researchers of Russian energy industry, to determine what they — objectively, can point to as validation, in their claim to have deep access.






coffee + Croi

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