The 2019 Global Business Anthropology Summit will bring together an international group of practitioners, scholars and industry experts to reflect upon future directions for the field, training priorities for the next generation, and ways to strengthen our global networks – all of which will enhance the value of anthropology applied to businesses.
As part of the two-day event, the following panels & workshops will be held.
Panel #1 – What is Business and Organizational Anthropology in the 21st Century?
Abstract: The changing conditions of our world – the rise of the knowledge economy, the globalization and localization of business, as well as financial and environmental crises – are reshaping the meaning and role of business and organizational anthropology. This panel will explore different types of contemporary anthropological engagements with business and organizations, while simultaneously investigating their overlaps. It will address a number of questions: What exactly is business and organizational anthropology in the 21st Century? What are the similarities and differences between an anthropology of business vs. the anthropology for business? What are the relationships between anthropologists and their interlocutors (e.g., clients) in the field of business, and how do these relationships shape the production of knowledge, writing, strategy making, and/or product design? And finally, how might business anthropologists forge partnerships in the future to build and extend business anthropology — as an academic, “commercial” and/or ethically sustainable practice?
Moderator: Melissa Fisher
Panel #2 – Anthropology at Work: Using our Toolkit to Tackle the Toughest Business Challenges
Abstract: After decades spent in the trenches working with some of the world’s largest corporations, the question: “What can anthropologists do for business?” is no longer a speculative one. Practitioners have helped Fortune 500 clients and employers better connect with their customers, engage employees, and rethink their strategies in increasingly complex market environments. However, most business anthropologists have been doing this work in isolation from each other, with no community of fellow-travelers with whom they can share insights, tools, and techniques, particularly outside of their own professional niche. This panel brings together experts from a wide range of sectors—management consulting, design, tech, and human capital—to build a common understanding about how we can apply our craft successfully in diverse business contexts. Our goals will be to: (1) share success stories and identify commonalities in how anthropologists are able to add value in the workplace; (2) identify ways to communicate this value effectively to clients and employers; and (3) share ideas on how to build effective networks of anthropologists across industry boundaries to continue building a knowledge base of practical tools and techniques.
Moderator: Derek Newberry
Panelists: Turi McKinley, Claire Rowel, Chris Golias & Martha Bird
Panel #3 – What Can Anthropology Offer Tech?
Abstract: Industry and academia are increasingly recognizing the value of the social sciences in the technology sector. Companies like Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, Intel, and Microsoft to name just a few, are hiring anthropologists. At the same time, engineering schools and computer science departments across the country are integrating anthropology and social science coursework into their curriculum. This panel brings together anthropologists working in the tech sector and technology professionals with experience working with anthropologists to discuss the question: What can anthropology offer tech? Discussion will showcase the practical juncture of anthropology and technology. We will talk about initial stereotypes, unexpected surprises, internal challenges, and the impact of working as anthropologist and with anthropologists in the technological field. Conversation will also be speculative, discussing what anthropology could offer technology. Participants will engage in a “bucket list” challenge and share their wish-list for the role anthropology could play in the technology sector.
Moderator: Yuliya Grinberg
Panelists: Jennie Doberne, Louise Beryl, Bryce Peak, Matt Artz & Susanne Cohen
Panel #4 -The Unintended Consequences and Social Implications of Company Actions: How Anthropologists Might Engage
Abstract: A new museum comes under fire for displaying repatriated colonial objects; a technology giant pulls the plug on its plans for a second headquarters amidst vocal grassroots and anti-corporate advocacy; a FinTech startup is accused of mocking single people in a Valentine’s Day ad. Many companies are under fire for the unanticipated consequences of decisions they’ve made, products they’ve built, or harmful outcomes they failed to prevent. The most notable examples—around data privacy and elections almost don’t need to be mentioned. This panel will stimulate dialogue about how practicing anthropologists can help organizations anticipate and respond to the reverberating effects of the decisions they make and the products they build (particularly social, political, and cultural effects). Leaving critique aside, the focus will be on current and potential contributions practicing anthropologists might make. What differentiated value can practicing anthropologists bring to guide corporations in this type of terrain? How can that value be articulated so it is more likely to take hold among those who might employ anthropologists? What sort of teams might make the best foothold, in terms of receptivity of anthropology’s contribution and the potential for maximizing impact?
Moderator: Josh Kaplan
Panelists: Sareeta Amrute, Abbas Jaffer, Emily McDonald & Patricia Ensworth
Workshop: Building on the Detroit Summit
Abstract: The 2018 Global Business Anthropology Summit in Detroit identified three major areas that our community could begin working on: (1) Making our voices more important; (2) Advancing the training of Business Anthropology practitioners and scholars; and (3) Creating resources for promoting Business Anthropology. The Summit report identified three to six items for each of these, for a total of 13 potential action items. This workshop will promote a discussion of these three areas and the related action items from an orthogonal point of view: Advancing training, for example, while certainly of academic interest, would become yet more interesting if we can hear from industry voices as to how the training of scholars and practitioners should be advanced. Similarly, from an academic perspective, what resources would be most accessible for promoting Business Anthropology? In this workshop we propose to problematize Business Anthropology, by examining it from new (and potentially unexpected) viewpoints.
Facilitators: Allen Batteau & Julia C. Gluesing
Workshop: (Re)Defining the Value of Anthropology in Business
Abstract: When we frame anthropology’s relevance to business as a single qualitative research method, ethnography, we limit the range of ways anthropology can create value. In this session, we will collectively brainstorm ways to articulate the value of anthropology in business overall, within specific business units, and across various industries. Participants will walk away with a fresh vocabulary for communicating the value of their services and perspectives.
Facilitators: Susan Kresnicka & Karis Eklund
Workshop: What Business Anthropology Can Learn From Behavioral Economics (and Vice-Versa)
Abstract: Behavioral economics draws on the behavioral and social sciences to analyze how people make economic decisions. Popular books and articles have made the public aware of the appeal of its explanations. Academic programs in universities are expanding to include Behavioral Economics in their pedagogy. Industry has also embraced the emergent field with job creation and specialization. Behavioral economics could teach business anthropologists a thing or two about how to frame what we do for popular, business and academic audiences, which could help merchandize business anthropology and increase demand for our services. In this workshop, an expert on business economics will provide a brief overview of the field and we will then focus on what business anthropology can learn from the successes of behavioral economics and what we, as business anthropologists, can contribute to business economics. Audience participation in small exercises and discussions will enliven the session.
Facilitators: Patricia Sunderland & Sris Chatterjeev
Workshop: Designing and Starting Your Practice
Abstract: Designing and Starting Your Practice is both an introductory and interactive workshop targeted at graduate students, early career anthropologists, and mid-career anthropologists who are interested in starting their own consultancy/agency. The objectives of this workshop are 1) why should you start a business, 2) types of mindsets that encourage business success, 3) ways for you to identify and prioritize what problems to solve, and 4) strategy creation and positioning. You will participate in discussions and exercises to facilitate strategy formation and early steps of starting a business. The facilitators will share concrete examples to provide you with insights and tactical suggestions for developing your practice once it is up and running. At the end of this workshop, you will have an overview of the methods and tools that are useful for designing a business and starting it.
Facilitators: Sabrina N Scott & Matt Artz
Workshop: Defining the Emerging Community of Business Anthropology
Abstract: This workshop will focus on creating a definition around Business Anthropology, identifying emergent trends in our work and clarifying what needs of the community are not being met by other existing organizations. Building off this definition and needs, we will explore what format/structures will best address the perceived gaps moving forward. Is it a website, an online collaborative space, an annual conference, an organization with a leadership structure? What relationships should we have with other organizations? We will be aiming to articulate specific recommendations and next steps.
Facilitators: Alexandra Mack & Ann Jordan
Workshop: Communicating the Value of Anthropology Through Visual Thinking and Images
Abstract: Anthropology has an image problem. The first question for many potential clients is “What is anthropology?” Often anthropology is understood only by what is seen: ethnography. Our challenge is to communicate that anthropology is not just how we collect data, but how we analyze data. The secret sauce to an anthropological analysis comes from our core theories and concepts. One way to communicate the value of anthropology theory is through images, simple enough to be sketched on the back of a napkin. In this interactive workshop, we will first generate a list of potential concepts that are good candidates for visual representation. Then in small groups, we will sketch first drafts of theoretically inspired visual communication tools (diagrams, images, models, visual metaphors, etc.) The goal is to create simple, but powerful visuals for use in capability presentations, web sites, social media posts or when all you have is a napkin.
Facilitators: Beth Holland & Gigi Taylor
Workshop: Networking in the Industry: Combing Anthropological and Coaching Tools to Create Strong, Powerful Connections
Abstract: This interactive workshop, co-presented by a business anthropologist and professional coach, will provide key insights to network and pitch with conviction for powerful results. Participants will learn how to apply anthropological tools to create a command of the networks in their industry; how to make the strongest connection quickly and how to pitch with conviction to make the most memorable interactions.
Facilitators: Melissa Fisher & Jim Arnoff
Workshop: Discovering Blindspots – Driving Innovation
Abstract: Assumptions about what people call “normal” create blindspots that inhibit clear communication, product innovation, adaptation within organizations, and more. Many people care about blindspots including designers, medical researchers, those addressing diversity and inclusion, and of course, anthropologists. In our workshop, we experience blindspots in a small group exercise. Next, we apply what we know about blindspots to understand the lack of awareness of and continuing resistance to anthropological practice in universities and society. We gather insights and solutions to address these problems by taking on various stakeholder roles. These two examples highlight ways in which anthropology can contribute value in many settings.
Facilitators: Inga Treitler, Elizabeth Briody & Jo Aiken
Workshop: The TL;DR (Too Long; Don’t Read) of UX Research
Abstract: What do anthropologists do in technology companies? This workshop will orient participants toward user experience and design research, a rapidly growing career path. We will explore questions such as: what is User Experience (UX) research? How does it differ from ethnographic research in academia? Is this role a good fit for your skill set and as a future career? Using real world examples, participants will work together to frame research questions and pair methods to questions in order to design a product research plan.
Facilitators: Jennie Doberne & Louise Beryl
Workshop: Diversity Doublethink: Policy Myths and Performance Rituals
Abstract: This workshop will explore how anthropology can help turn hopeful thinking about diversity into realistic strategies. We will begin with a discussion of the ideals of diversity espoused in corporate mission statements, then contrast the actual processes by which cohesive teams evolve (and dysfunctional teams fall apart). We will then provide some exercises in which participants reflect upon the components of their identities and recognize the traits necessary for different types of effective teams and for career success in different types of organizations.
Facilitators: Melissa Fisher & Patricia Ensworth
Workshop: Rebranding and Building a Marketing Strategy for Business Anthropology
Abstract: How do we “sell” anthropology? Anthropology desperately needs to rebrand itself. We need to clarify to the public that not only do we study human cultures at home and abroad, but we also have much to contribute to organizations struggling with hot-button issues like diversity and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, and user-centered design. We need to reclaim and “own” the contributions that originated in our discipline, like ethnography and the holistic approach. In this workshop we will identify the current obstacles to the spread of anthropology as essential to the business world and develop actionable strategies for breaking through those barriers. Participants will leave with tools and concrete steps they can take to open opportunities and move the discipline forward.
Facilitators: Melissa Vogel & Adam Gamwell