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Business
Anthropology
National Tsing Hua University, Spring 2017
John McCreery (jlmccreery@mac.com)
Introduction
• What is Business Anthropology?
• Why be interested?
• Who is your professor?
• How does this class work?
What is Business
Anthropology
• An emerging, hybrid discipline
• Anthropology OF business
• Anthropology IN business
• An ...
Business Anthropology
Anthropology OF Business
• Academic
• Motivated by the realization that business is a
major and growing component of human...
Anthropology IN Business
• Applied, with business objectives
• Constrained by goals, schedules, and budgets set
by the cli...
Why be interested?
• If you are pursuing an academic career
• Teaching in business schools becomes a possibility
• If you ...
Who is your professor
“In Taiwan, I studied magicians. In Japan, I joined the guild.”
• A US citizen who has lived in Japa...
How does this class work?
• No exams. No papers. A journal.
• The journal does have a prescribed format
• Core and suggest...
The Journal
• In the first entry, write yourself a letter describing
what you want to get out of the course. Hopes,
dreams,...
The Required Format
• Quote or observation
• Quotes are words, phrases, sentences that catch your eye. Copy them.
• Observ...
An Example
From the “Introduction” to Handbook of Anthropology in Business, ed. by Patricia Sunderland and Rita Denny, P. ...
Core Readings
• Brian Moeran and Christina Garsten, “What’s in a Name? Editors
Introduction to the Journal of Business Ant...
Recommended Online
• Journal of Business Anthropology
• http://ej.lib.cbs.dk/index.php/jba/issue/archive
• EPIC
• https://...
Recommended Books
• Melissa Cefkin, ed. Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter: Reflections
on Research in and of Corporat...
Philosophy
• Learning over Education
• Knowledge as Art
• Not a jigsaw puzzle. Not sketching from life.
• Practice over Th...
Your Own Project?
• Tell us about it
• Recruit a team
• Observe, interview, think
• Share your ideas
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Business anthropology

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Introduction to Business Anthropology course at National Tsing Hua University, Spring 2017

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Business anthropology

  1. 1. Business Anthropology National Tsing Hua University, Spring 2017 John McCreery (jlmccreery@mac.com)
  2. 2. Introduction • What is Business Anthropology? • Why be interested? • Who is your professor? • How does this class work?
  3. 3. What is Business Anthropology • An emerging, hybrid discipline • Anthropology OF business • Anthropology IN business • An unfinished project
  4. 4. Business Anthropology
  5. 5. Anthropology OF Business • Academic • Motivated by the realization that business is a major and growing component of human lives • If anthropology claims to be about the whole of humanity, it cannot ignore business
  6. 6. Anthropology IN Business • Applied, with business objectives • Constrained by goals, schedules, and budgets set by the clients who pay for the service anthropologists provide
  7. 7. Why be interested? • If you are pursuing an academic career • Teaching in business schools becomes a possibility • If you need to find employment outside of the academy • Think about your professor, who found a career in advertising • Those who may one day hire and manage business anthropologists • What can you expect? What can they do for you?
  8. 8. Who is your professor “In Taiwan, I studied magicians. In Japan, I joined the guild.” • A US citizen who has lived in Japan since 1980 • An anthropologist whose first fieldwork was in Taiwan, 1969-1971 • A failed academic, who didn’t get tenure • A copywriter and creative director for Japan’s second largest advertising agency, 1983-1996 • A lecturer in the Graduate Program in Comparative Culture at Sophia University in Tokyo, teaching seminars on “The Making and Meaning of Advertising” and “Marketing in Japan” • A partner in a small translation business that provides much of the English text for art exhibitions in Japan • An independent scholar whose publications range from Daoist magic to Japanese consumer behavior and award-winning creative teams in Japanese advertising
  9. 9. How does this class work? • No exams. No papers. A journal. • The journal does have a prescribed format • Core and suggested readings • Optional projects
  10. 10. The Journal • In the first entry, write yourself a letter describing what you want to get out of the course. Hopes, dreams, clear objectives? That is up to you. • In the last entry, write a letter to your professor describing what you learned from the course • In all of the other entries, follow a fixed format
  11. 11. The Required Format • Quote or observation • Quotes are words, phrases, sentences that catch your eye. Copy them. • Observations are what you perceive, described as neutrally as possible. • Interpretation • Rephrase the quote or observation and write down what it seems to mean • Question • What question/question does your interpretation leave unanswered?
  12. 12. An Example From the “Introduction” to Handbook of Anthropology in Business, ed. by Patricia Sunderland and Rita Denny, P. 13 [quote] Anthropology in business is a matrix of multiple endeavors that on the one hand has existed for a very long time and on the other is just coming into view. Actors in this terrain include anthropologists, their sociological kin, designers, and ethnographers of other disciplinary origins who have found themselves working with or for business or who take business as an object of study… Our choice of “Anthropology in Business” rather than “Business Anthropology” as the title of the handbook was purposeful. To call it the latter seemed too great a presupposition of an existing field with established parameters and boundaries…. [interpret] Anthropology in business is not one thing. We might call it a cluster of projects in search of a shared identity. It is old. It is new. It does not belong to anthropologists alone. Is the question “What is it?” a good one. Definition is not a good place to begin. I recall that the authors are academically trained anthropologists who left the academy to do anthropology IN business. [question] What are the dimensions of this “matrix of multiple endeavors”? Dimensions, not boundaries.  *I am reminded of Claude Lévi-Strauss image in which knowledge is like stars, clusters and galaxies emerging from cosmic dust. ** For me, this image is attractive because it resonates with the visualizations used in social network analysis.  *** What happens if we drop “in business”? “Anthropology is a matrix of multiple endeavors…” Sounds right to me.
  13. 13. Core Readings • Brian Moeran and Christina Garsten, “What’s in a Name? Editors Introduction to the Journal of Business Anthropology http:// ej.lib.cbs.dk/index.php/jba/article/view/3545/3849 • Melissa Cefkin, “Close Encounters: Anthropologists in the Corporate Arena” http://ej.lib.cbs.dk/index.php/jba/article/view/ 3548/3855 • John L. McCreery & Keiko Yamaki, “The Anthropology of Business and Administration in Japan” In R.Denny & P. Sunderland, eds. Handbook of Anthropology in Business, pp. 266-285 • Sam Ladner, Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in the Private Sector. Routledge, 2014.
  14. 14. Recommended Online • Journal of Business Anthropology • http://ej.lib.cbs.dk/index.php/jba/issue/archive • EPIC • https://www.epicpeople.org/ • Grant McCracken • http://cultureby.com • International Journal of Business Anthropology • http://www.cambridgescholars.com/download/sample/62943
  15. 15. Recommended Books • Melissa Cefkin, ed. Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter: Reflections on Research in and of Corporations • Brigitte Jordan, ed. Advancing Ethnography in Corporate Environments • Sierk Ybema, Dvora Yanow, Harry Wels & Frans Kamsteeg, ed. Organizational Ethnography: Studying the Complexities of Everyday Life • Rita Denny & Patricia Sunderland, ed., Handbook of Anthropology in Business • 松世祥, 百公里的人类学家 [Song Shih-hsiang, Anthropologists in All Sorts of Occupations] • Joi Ito & Jeff Howe, Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future. Grand Central Publishing
  16. 16. Philosophy • Learning over Education • Knowledge as Art • Not a jigsaw puzzle. Not sketching from life. • Practice over Theory
  17. 17. Your Own Project? • Tell us about it • Recruit a team • Observe, interview, think • Share your ideas

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