This year, at the 2018 Northeastern Association of Business, Economics, and Technology (NABET) conference, Dr. Rex Dumdum and I will be presenting a paper titled Why Analytics Needs Ethnography.

Why Analytics Needs Ethnography Abstract

Big Data analytics have increasingly gained prominence in business because it has provided beneficial insights regarding emerging trends, behaviors and preferences.  Relying exclusively on analytics to address the vast majority of business uncertainties, however, is detrimental to our ability to solve problems. Madsbjerg and Rasmussen, in a WSJ article, insightfully captures the essence: “By outsourcing our thinking to Big Data, our ability to make sense of the world by careful observation begins to wither, just as you miss the feel and texture of a new city by navigating it only with the help of a GPS.”

If we are to gain a better understanding of our customers and the business itself, we must not miss “the feel and texture.” We need to see problems and opportunities in terms of human experience and capture and interpret data with a human context. We need to examine and understand how people live their lives from their own perspective, rather than from traditional business’ perspective. This applies to markets and products, as much as it applies to corporate culture because humans are complex and difficult to qualify and quantify. By using ethnographic research methods, we can uncover and understand the needs and desires – the whys and the feel and texture – that drive the emotional lives of customers.

This paper argues that businesses need to combine analytics with ethnography for richer and even more valuable insights to move ahead in a global market. It also provides some suggestions on how to combine analytics with ethnography.


The Northeastern Association of Business, Economics and Technology (NABET), formerly known as The Association of Pennsylvania University Business and Economics Faculty (APUBEF), originated in the late 1970s providing an opportunity for interested economics and business professors to meet and discuss their research and controversial issues in business education and in the state government of Pennsylvania. The original APUBEF charter is dated in 1976. Subsequently, a formal academic conference with published proceedings became the fundamental platform to conduct APUBEF’s mission. In the mid-nineties, the APUBEF Journal was created. In 2006, the APUBEF organization was renamed the Northeastern Association of Business, Economics and Technology (NABET). The journal was renamed, the Journal of Business, Economics and Technology (JBET, formerly JNABET).

NABET 2018

The 41st Annual Meeting is November 1st and 2nd, 2018 at the Days Inn Penn State in State College, PA. The Northeastern Association of Business, Economics and Technology invites papers for presentation at its Annual Meeting. The meeting provides an opportunity to present new research and discuss a variety of current issues in business, economics and IT. This is your chance to get involved with a dynamic, regional academic organization. Faculty Submissions can be based on either complete or incomplete scholarly work, workshops or discussion panels. NABET is politically non-partisan. Please do not submit papers that focus on political, religious, gender, or other societal and cultural issues. Such papers will be deemed inappropriate for the NABET Conference.