Ethnographic Research on Modern Business Corporations

Posted: 23 Oct 2013

See all articles by Greg Urban

Greg Urban

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Anthropology

Kyung-Nan Koh

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

Date Written: October 2013

Abstract

Ethnographers have approached the modern business corporation (construed as cultural formation) from two directions: (a) the effects of corporations—on workers, communities, consumers, and the broader environment; and (b) the inner workings of corporations as small-scale (or even large-scale) societies. Although academically based ethnographic research inside corporations has grown only modestly since the 1980s, the number of anthropologists working for corporations has mushroomed. Coupled with the expansion of research on various corporate effects over the past three decades, this development, we argue, positions the discipline to make intellectual advances in theorizing the corporation (synthesizing the internal social group view with the external effects-producing agentive view), as well as practical contributions not only in monitoring harmful impacts but also in suggesting directions to enhance societal benefits. At the same time, we note that questions of access to corporate inner workings pose both practical and ethical challenges.

Suggested Citation

Urban, Greg and Koh, Kyung-Nan, Ethnographic Research on Modern Business Corporations (October 2013). Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 42, pp. 139-158, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2344209 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-092412-155506

Greg Urban (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Anthropology ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Kyung-Nan Koh

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies ( email )

270 Imun-dong Dongdaemun-gu
Seoul, 130-791
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
437
PlumX Metrics