Anthropology in Business?

“For business, what do anthropologists bring to the party? Why hire an anthropologist? Despite the popular tropes, we would argue that it is not about going ‘deeper’ or getting ‘truer’ by virtue of our exotic disciplinary ancestors. But it is about helping businesses think differently about their endeavors by providing a social, cultural lens that focuses on the social assemblage within which products, people and institutions are engaged. This lens is truly different for business and is rarely applied without the help of anthropologists. Anthropological perspective can spur creative possibility, illuminate markets, make for more effective teams and frame a different set of solutions.”

New blog post by Patty Sunderland and Rita Denny at the AAA blog.

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We Are All Anthropologists Now” aired on BBC Radio 4 in February of this year as part of a series that explores anthropology in today’s world. What was particularly striking about this segment was that it was all about anthropologists in business.  The image on the right, taken from Amy Santee’s January 2016 AAA Webinar, shows a stack of work by anthropologists in corporate arenas – a stack that is stretching if not bursting beyond the boundaries of the image. A LOT is going on in this space.

As editors of the 2014 Handbook of Anthropology in Business, we are witness to the myriad activities occurring at the intersections of anthropology and business. If historically there are traceable lines of activity in fields of technology and design, organizational and workplace studies, advertising and market research, now there is also activity in social…

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