20 June 2011

Book: ethnography and the corporate encounter

Be the first to share

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
26 September 2016
[Book] The Stuff of Bits
The Stuff of Bits - An Essay on the Materialities of Information By Paul Dourish MIT Press, April 2017 264 pages The central topic of The Stuff of Bits is the materialities of information. This term often brings to …
18 September 2016
[Book] The Cyber Effect
The Cyber Effect: A Pioneering Cyberpsychologist Explains How Human Behavior Changes Online Dr. Mary Aiken Spiegel & Grau, August 2016 400 pages A groundbreaking exploration of how cyberspace is changing the way we think, feel, and behave …
18 September 2016
Better decisions by design: applied behavioral science
Can we design a decision aid that gives us health information we need and counters our biases so that we end up more knowledgeable and confident in our preference? This is the challenge that …
5 September 2016
Great engine, but the fuel seems poor. Discussing insight development in corporate marketing
The September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) contains a lengthy essay, entitled Building an Insights Engine, on how Unilever has created the organizational capabilities to "transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and …
4 September 2016
The 5 W’s of doing great user research
Sarah Doody explains in a Frontify guest post, which questions you have to ask doing a user research. Why is a user research important? When should you do research? "If you want to design a product …
3 September 2016
[Paper] Design for behaviour change as a driver for sustainable innovation
Design for Behaviour Change as a Driver for Sustainable Innovation: Challenges and Opportunities for Implementation in the Private and Public Sectors Niedderer, K., Ludden, G., Clune, S. J., Lockton, D., Mackrill, J., Morris, A., Cain, R., …
29 August 2016
Experientia discussing ethnography and patient-centricity at EPIC 2016
This week Experientia joins our colleagues and peers in Minneapolis at EPIC 2016, the premier international gathering on ethnography and design in industry. The theme for the conference this year is Pathmaking, emphasizing the power of …
24 August 2016
New Human Centred Design toolkit launched for African context
Future by Design, a Human Centred Design (HCD) and customer-centricity consultancy focused on the African continent, has produced an HCD Toolkit (download link) that’s especially appropriate for an African context, and intended for application where …

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.

5 September 2016
Great engine, but the fuel seems poor. Discussing insight development in corporate marketing

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) contains a lengthy essay, entitled Building an Insights Engine, on how Unilever has created the organizational capabilities to “transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.” The article was written by Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed of a […]

29 August 2016
Experientia discussing ethnography and patient-centricity at EPIC 2016

This week Experientia joins our colleagues and peers in Minneapolis at EPIC 2016, the premier international gathering on ethnography and design in industry. The theme for the conference this year is Pathmaking, emphasizing the power of ethnography to create transformative innovation, growth and strategic success for companies, industries and communities. On the second day of […]

22 June 2016
A united energy economy: Experientia helps wrap up the CITYOPT Nice pilot project

Can behavioral change address local energy issues, raise people’s awareness energy consumption issues, and directly support non-profit organizations at the same time? With the Nice pilot of the CITYOPT project, we have seen strong suggestions that it can. It also suggests that the sense of belonging to a local community is a strong motivation for […]

23 May 2016
Experientia white paper: “Conducting clinical trials is about working with patients”

Patient-centricity is one of the defining issues facing clinical trials in the pharma industry. The past few years have seen a growing awareness by pharmaceutical companies of the importance of patient-centricity – but they have also illustrated that not everyone is clear on just what patient-centricity is, or how to achieve it. After using UX […]

12 April 2016
The latest on innovation in Energy Efficient Buildings: annual round-up of EU Commission projects

Every year, the Energy-efficient Buildings (EeB) Public Private Partnership (PPP) publishes the EeB PPP project review – a round-up of energy-efficiency projects that have been co-funded by two European Commission schemes. This year, the print and digital booklet design was done by Experientia, in particular by our talented visual and interaction designer Dohun Jang. Experientia […]

8 March 2016
Behavioral modeling – Shaping cultural change and behavioral evolution

One of the things we do here at Experientia that really sets us apart from other UX agencies is behavioral modeling. Our cognitive and behavioral models go beyond the standard customer journeys and personas (both useful tools, and often preliminary steps to behavioral modeling) to create frameworks that can be used to make people more […]

See all articles