The Laurits Andersen Foundation at the University of Copenhagen has granted funds to the Department of Anthropology for a three-year fully financed PhD position in the field of business and organizational anthropology. Applicants are now invited to submit proposals for doctoral research that must fall within one or more of the areas mentioned below. In … Continue reading Call for Applications: Laurits Andersen PhD position in Business and Organizational Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen
Thinking in terms of a business and design context, what is a researcher? There is no one path, no one exact job description, no one single approach or professional charter to follow. Among the many variables that can shape this are the individual’s background and training, personal philosophy and worldview, and years of experience. For … Continue reading What is a researcher? A personal manifesto
Three months ago, I started a new job as user experience researcher at SpendWell Health, a start-up here in Portland, OR. SpendWell is building an online marketplace where people can purchase routine health care services directly from providers with upfront prices. Individuals with access to SpendWell as a benefit of their insurance plan can search … Continue reading User Experience Research at SpendWell – My First 3 Months
“The goals in industry are not those of academia, and this means that corporate research needs different things to be successful. Yes, research should be trustworthy and accurate, but in industry this needs to be balanced with timeliness and actionability. An accurate result is worthless if no one knows how to use it, or if no one bothers to read it because they’re struggling to interpret your F-values.”
One of the biggest leaps when moving from academic research to industry research is understanding that the practice of doing research in both worlds is drastically different. They have different goals, values, media and cultural standards that researchers must be aware of if they want to be effective and valued. The following article from Llewyn Paine does a great job of distilling the key differences and makes suggestions for how to be an effective researcher in the business world without feeling like you’re violating the ethics and values of your disciplinary training.
Product team asks a question. Researcher does a study and hands off a long-form academic-style report, but it’s hard to read and there are no clear arguments for what action to take. The team ignores the report and goes with their gut, and the researcher is frustrated that the team isn’t addressing the top issues from the study.
Later, a colleague suggests that the researcher should change up his reporting style and try to “sell” the results more. The researcher demurs, saying that researchers have a responsibility to adhere to certain standards for reporting data. The cycle repeats.
Maybe you recognize this scenario. Maybe you’ve been the team member with a report you couldn’t use. Or maybe you’ve been the researcher, delivering meticulous reports that never seem to land right at your company. If so, you’re not alone — this scenario crops up over and over again, especially for conscientious researchers who have recently made the transition…
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I always eagerly anticipate new contributions to the field of business and design anthropology because it's an area of practice that is still growing and could use as much thoughtful ideation around its identity, values, and application as it can get. My hope for new books, articles, blogs and other forms of idea-sharing in this … Continue reading [Book Review] Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in the Private Sector by Sam Ladner
As researchers in business, how do we balance insightfulness, depth of thought and rigor with the demands and pace of business decision making? Anthropologist Gavin Johnston shares his thoughts below.
Sitting in a meeting not long ago, I couldn’t help overhearing someone comment that the presentation of the rationale for a campaign they had just sat through was too “academic”. What struck me was the distinction he made between academics and “real businessmen” like himself. The word “academic” is, of course, loaded but one of the underlying meanings to so many would-be paragons of business is that “academic” means complicated, useless or detached. Now, while I would be the first to agree that people with an “academic” bent to their work can be prone to laying the jargon on fairly thick at times or wanting to give details that some people might feel aren’t needed, the ones that gain recognition and traction in their field and across disciplines (including business) are anything but detached or lacking in their ability to articulate game-changing product and business solutions. The practical and the…
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I'd like to announce the release of a special issue of the journal of Practicing Anthropology dedicated specifically to the practice and application of anthropology in business settings. The special issue, which can be found online here, was co-guest-edited by me and Dr. Amy Goldmacher. The authors who contributed to the issue are Jo Aiken, … Continue reading Announcing the Release of a Special Theme Issue on Practicing Anthropology in the Private Sector
At the recent Society for Applied Anthropology annual meetings in Albuquerque, NM, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel session with three other up-and-coming anthropologists who work in business and design. The session, entitled “Coming of Age in the Corporate Context: Exploring the Non-Linear Transition from Student to Practitioner and Back Again,” was … Continue reading Insights from a Discussion of the Non-Linear Path to Practicing Business Anthropology
At the Society for Applied Anthropology annual meetings in Albuquerque this past March, I participated in (and chaired) a session entitled "Business Anthropology Roundtable: New Voices, New Destinations, New Futures" with five fantastic, up-and-coming (women!) business anthropologists. Click here to visit the SfAA Podcast website, where the audio recording, introduction notes and panel bios have … Continue reading Business Anthropology Roundtable: New Voices, New Destinations, New Futures