Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter
Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter
Reflections on Research in and of Corporations
Edited by Melissa Cefkin
Berghahn Books (July 2009)
Hardcover, 253 pages

Businesses and other organizations are increasingly hiring anthropologists and other ethnographically-oriented social scientists as employees, consultants, and advisors. The nature of such work, as described in this volume, raises crucial questions about potential implications to disciplines of critical inquiry such as anthropology. In addressing these issues, the contributors explore how researchers encounter and engage sites of organizational practice in such roles as suppliers of consumer-insight for product design or marketing, or as advisors on work design or business and organizational strategies. The volume contributes to the emerging canon of corporate ethnography, appealing to practitioners who wish to advance their understanding of the practice of corporate ethnography and providing rich material to those interested in new applications of ethnographic work and the ongoing rethinking of the nature of ethnographic praxis.

Melissa Cefkin is a cultural anthropologist with experience in research, management, teaching, and consulting for business and government. Currently based at IBM Research in the area of services research, she earned her PhD from Rice University and remains dedicated to pursuing a critical understanding of the intersections of anthropological practice within business and organizational settings.

Chapters
1. Introduction – Business, anthropology, and the growth of corporate ethnography – Melissa Cefkin
2. “My Customers are Different!” – Identity, difference, and the political economy of design – Donna K. Flynn
3. Participatory Ethnography at Work – Practicing in the puzzle palaces of a large, complex healthcare organization – Christopher Darrouzet, Helga Wild, and Susann Wilkinson
4. Working in Corporate Jungles – Reflections on ethnographic praxis in industry – Brigitte Jordan with Monique Lambert
5. Writing on Walls: The materiality of social memory in corporate research – Dawn Nafus and Ken Anderson
6. The Anthropologist as Ontological Choreographer – Françoise Brun-Cottan
7. Emergent Culture, Slippery Culture – Conflicting conceptualizations of culture in commercial ethnography – Martin Ortlieb
8. Insider Trading – Engaging and valuing corporate ethnography – Jeanette Blomberg
9. Emergent Forms of Life in Corporate Arenas - Michael M. J. Fischer