20 June 2011

Book: ethnography and the corporate encounter

Be the first to share
putting people first
by experientia

Ethnography and The Corporate Encounter
Ethnography and The Corporate Encounter
Reflections on Research in and of Corporations
Edited by Melissa Cefkin
Berghahn Books
2010, 262 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.

Related:

Last weekend, the Financial Times Magazine reports on one chapter of the book that describes how two Intel researchers, Dawn Nafus and Ken Anderson, observed the rituals of everyday life in Intel’s corporate “jungle”.

“Ironically, while Intel worshipped the idea of free-flowing innovation, the way employees communicated was subject to a rigid but unspoken set of cultural “rules”. Post-it notes were deemed acceptable, and used to “push the boundaries”. This, however, “delegitimized knowledge which did not come in the form of bold, sweeping statements required of ‘out-of-the-box’ performances,” they write. PowerPoint and whiteboards were acceptable; communicating through dance was not. And “if your inspiration [for innovative ideas] happened to come from ‘suspect’ sources, such as religious texts, this can be smuggled in only through disguise.”

Read article

Be the first to share
Related Article
2 March 2015
Human-centered design should be a CMO’s best friend
The average tenure of a CMO is just 45 months, according to a recent study released by executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart. Fortunately, for CMOs in need of help, there's an elegant and simplistic process called …
Related Article
2 March 2015
Ethnographic research increasingly informing business strategy
Corporate ethnography isn’t just for innovation anymore. It’s central to gaining a full understanding of your customers and the business itself, writes Ken Anderson, anthropologist at Intel Research, in the Harvard Business Review. The ethnographic …
Related Article
2 March 2015
Ethnographic film and book on people living off the grid
Life Off Grid is a two-year journey exploring the lives of Canadians in every province and territory who have made the choice to disconnect. Life Off Grid is a film and book about people who …
Related Article
1 March 2015
Towards multi-species ethnography
The well known anthropologist and sociologist Anne Galloway just announced the launch of the More-Than-Human Lab at Victoria University (New Zealand), which extends and augments human-centered design practices to our multi-species ecosystems. "What if we refuse …
Related Article
28 February 2015
[Book] Netnography Redefined
Netnography Redefined by Robert V Kozinets (York University, Canada) Sage Publications, 288 pages July 2015 Social media and the internet are rich, fertile sources of data for social researchers, though online data offer both opportunities and challenges. In this …
Related Article
28 February 2015
[Book] Doing Sensory Ethnography
Doing Sensory Ethnography by Sarah Pink Sage Publications Paperback, 232 pages Second edition, February 2015 Between 2010 – 2014, a team of UK anthropologists, engineers and designers worked towards a deeper understanding of how energy and media consumption fit in …
Related Article
27 February 2015
Steve Portigal’s insider view of corporate user research
The acclaimed UX researcher Steve Portigal hosts the DollarsToDonuts podcast series [iTunes | Twitter] where he talks with the people who lead user research in their (corporate) organization. Six programs so far: Carol Rossi, Senior Director of …
Related Article
24 February 2015
How do people save/share/revisit on mobile devices?
In early January, Mozilla UX conducted user research to refresh their understanding of how people save, share, and revisit mobile content with the goal of building a knowledge base for a larger contextual research project …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

27 November 2014
Why the world needs anthropologists – an update

Why the world needs anthropologists – Coming out of the ivory tower Location: Padua, Italy, Centro Culturale Altinate/San Gaetano Date and time: Friday, 5 December 2014, 13:00 – 18:00 Padua, Italy, 5 December 2014 – The second edition of the international symposium of applied anthropologists attempts to erase the boundary between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, […]

30 October 2014
The BancoSmart ATM by Experientia for UniCredit selected for ADI Design Index

Last year Experientia designed the interface of an ATM of UniCredit, a major Italian bank. The interface is now rolled out across the bank’s ATMs in Italy, to great satisfaction of the bank and the customers alike, since interaction speed is much faster and error rates went down dramatically. Last year UniCredit and Experientia also […]

29 October 2014
Experientia at EPIC: UX transforming a financial institution

In September 2014 Experientia gave a presentation on working as UX professionals with financial institutions at the EPIC conference in New York. The paper is now available on the EPIC site in HTML and PDF versions (free registration req’d). Abstract Application of a user-centered approach rooted in ethnographic methodologies facilitates a major European bank’s transition […]

See all articles