Re: Anthropology and organizational culture

Mon, 1 May 95 00:45:48 -0500

I currently teach a course on the anthropology of organizations, which
includes a segment devoted to organizational culture.

There are two recent collection of articles on the anthropology of

The first is:

Susan Wright, ed. Anthropology of Organizations. London: Routledge, 1994.

This is a collection of articles by British anthropologists.
Useful for presenting some of the work being done across the Atlantic.

Tomoko Hamada and Willis Sibley. Anthropological Perspectives on
Organizational Culture. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1994.

I would also recommend a book by a sociologist, Gideon Kunda, entitled
Engineering Culture (Temple University Press, 1992), which is as far
as I'm concerned the best ethnographic work on organizational culture.
He examines the use of the concept as ideology in a high tech corp. in
Mass. and is highly critical of it as a new form of normative control
by management.

Some recent overview pieces are:

Maureen J. Giovannini and Lynne Rosansky. Anthropology and Management
Consulting: Forging a New Alliance. National Association for the
Practice of Anthropology, 1990.

Marietta Baba. Business and Industrial Anthropology: An Overview.
National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, 1986.

Both of these can be obtained through the American Anthropological

Of course, anthropological interest in organizations dates back
to W. Lloyd Warner's involvement in the Hawthorne studies during the
1930s. He set up the first anthropological management consulting
firm and originated a subfield called industrial anthropology.

There are several articles surveying the work done in that area
in a book edited by Elizabeth Eddy and William Partridge: Applied
Anthropology in America. NY: Columbia University Press, 1978.

There are also several other ethnographic works that have been
done by anthropologists on business organizations in other societies.
Notable is Thomas Rohlen's study of a Japanese bank: For Harmony
and Strength. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

That will give you some introduction to anthropological work in the
area of organizational culture and organizational behavior. If you
would like to get some more references or would like to discuss this
topic further, please do not hesitate to contact me further. Hope
that this has been of help.

Dana Farnham