Data Work Between the Local and the Global: An Ethnography of a Healthcare Business Intelligence Unit

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearch


This paper describes work practices at a public, non-profit healthcare business intelligence unit involved in creating BI reports and sharing these with healthcare management and professionals. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, we detail the various work tasks and processes involved in building data products that are applicable across various wards and healthcare professions, and, at the same time, intelligible and relevant for specific users: a challenge we frame as working with the tension between making the local and the global relevant to each other. We identified four ways in which this tension unfolds in the business intelligence unit's data work: consolidating standards, creating order out of chaos, engaging with healthcare professionals, and negotiating data and conflicts. We provide three contributions: we show how data work can unfold in close collaboration between professional data workers and domain experts; we nuance the existing research on data work by focusing on a less researched group of data workers; and we add to the few detailed ethnographies of business intelligence units.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Number of pages28
Publication dateApr 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024
SeriesProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction


  • Business Intelligence
  • Critical Data Studies
  • Data Work
  • Ethnography
  • Healthcare

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