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Comments on and Expectations of the International Journal of Business Anthropology Vol. 1 (1)

Comments on and Expectations of the International Journal of

Business Anthropology Vol. 1 (1)

 

Daisy Stevens Rojas

Cultural Expressions Consulting

 

 

The International Journal of Business Anthropology (IJBA) presents a useful and important tool for navigating our global community. Both professional practitioners and academic scholars in the field of Anthropology will find the case studies, real experiences and practical applications of anthropology informative and invigorating. Perhaps more importantly the business community will recognize the great value of cultural understanding and human experience through anthropological study necessary for sustained interaction. The formal acknowledgement of the merger of these two disciplines as demonstrated by the International Journal of Business Anthropology validates what both fields have known for many years--that a symbiotic relationship is necessary for the sustenance of each.

 

Applied anthropology seeks to work within communities to develop understanding and translation between cultures. The positive function of business culture seeks this knowledge to pursue organic growth with and among interested communities. Always in flux, human communities seek new opportunities and solutions to difficulties that can be fostered through the open dialogue created by publications such as IJBA. I found the Journal when searching for an appropriate venue for my own work on localized emergent financial markets aimed at assisting unbanked populations. Working as a consultant and freelance anthropologist, I have the freedom to choose my topics and research venues; but until now, have not had the opportunity to share work which provides advantages to both academia and the business community. Aside from having value as previously uninvestigated areas of interest, this type of anthropology is meant to provide resources and opportunities to socially conscious individuals and organizations.

 

As many in the discipline know anthropology is vital to our constantly negotiated relationships, both private and public. For academia, the pursuit of research for scholarly purposes sometimes means that practical application is lost in theory.  Hopeful education of vibrant young people and inspired professionals are often the only means of providing an avenue for theory to interface with 'lived experiences'. My own desire to project elements of human experience in my work as taught by humanist anthropologist Edith Turner has provided an alternative view of a world whose language has been written for too long in statistics, graphs and trend data. 

 

The bold decision to forge ahead with our dedication to cultural understanding and the belief that we can pass that knowledge on to members of other disciplines is the reason the International Journal of Business Anthropology will become an invaluable tool. At some point anthropologists come to a crossroads in the discipline; forced to decide between investigative academic research and professional applied research. Remembering our origins in American anthropology it seems that a fear of misuse clings to the ideas surrounding the field of applied anthropology. Whatever the decision, if we have taken our early lessons to heart we hope that our work will be used in appropriate ways. There is no reason to abandon our colleagues simply because they choose to pursue their ideals in a professional capacity instead of remaining in academia. Rather, to have a vehicle for disseminating information and sharing new research among applied anthropologists will assist in maintaining ethical principles for all members of the discipline.

 

Ann Jordan mentions in the very first article of the first volume, our dilemma as dedicated anthropologists is how to determine what questions should be asked (Jordan). This deceptively simple requirement involves dedicated ethnography, in depth engagement and focused time learning from interlocutors in the field. It was also a great comfort for me to see that articles present in IJBA Volume 1 (1) include the names of revered works from Malinowski, Levi-Strauss and Victor Turner listed in the references of the selected texts. Applied anthropologists have not forgotten the foundational elements of our discipline--we have instead sought to further understand and extend understanding to the world within which we live.

 

The Journal addresses meaningful issues present and pressing in our own lives as well as those of many others seeking knowledge from our discipline. The first volume of the International Journal of Business Anthropology discusses issues such as generation gaps within communities and this effect on labor systems, differing management styles among particularized communities, and the intricate balance of developing a firm dedicated to the business of anthropology (Zhou and Sun, Walle, Bronitsky). Providing useful information, pressing questions and open discourse to the business community allows Anthropology a voice in areas which have traditionally excluded human experience from the record.

 

The articles within the pages of this journal are written in clear language and make use of tools already familiar to the business community as well as those of the anthropological community. I suggest institutions, businesses, professors, professionals, scholars and interested community members to consider including it as a work resource. Support and participation through subscription and submission of new material develops our discipline and allows a critical eye of the work that members of our field are putting to a useful purpose. In many ways the work of applied anthropology has come to fruition through this publication. But with privilege comes responsibility, and those practitioners and scholars who recognize the value of this resource will also know the need we have to maintain a high level of variety, innovation and critical commentary.

 

Future works slated for publication include articles on modernism and post-modernism in industrial settings, intercultural training for multinational corporations, anthropology in small businesses, and the emergence of business anthropology in Latin America. I look forward to the future volumes of the International Journal of Business Anthropology with great expectations and hope other members of the field will provide feedback and material for this and subsequent volumes on a regular basis.

 

(Daisy Stevens Rojas is an Assistant Editor for the Journal of Anthropology and Humanism and President of Cultural Expressions Consulting. Her work involves studies that unmask potential among marginalized populations. She has published in the U.S. and abroad on subjects including social identities of indigenous peoples, establishing racial dialogue, and experiences of Latino immigrants in the U.S. Correspondence may be directed to www.culturalexpressionsconsulting.com or ds3bg@virginia.edu)

 

 

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Statement of International Journal of Business Anthropology

ISSN 2155-6237

The International Journal of Business Anthropology is a double peer reviewed journal focusing upon business anthropology sponsored by the College of Sociology and Anthropology, Sun Yat-Sen University, China, the Faculty of Social Science, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and published by the North American Business Press (NABP) biannually. Given the rapid growth of business anthropology a journal dedicated to the field is much needed.

Business anthropology uses qualitative and ethnographic methods as an alternative to more formal methodologies, Specific tools include participant observation, informal and structured interviews, and other “naturalistic”, informal, and face to face methods of investigation. Business anthropologists play a key role in developing culturally sensitive policies and strategies in a world that increasingly typified by cross cultural contact.

The journal seeks articles by anthropologically-oriented scholars and practitioners. Regionally focused contributions are welcome, especially when their findings can be generalized. We encourage the dialogues between the findings or theories generated from the field of business anthropology and the theories of general anthropology. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, general business anthropology theories and methods, management, marketing, consumer behavior, product design and development, knowledge management and competitive intelligence, human resources management, international business, etc.

Objectives:

- Generate an exchange of ideas between scholars, practitioners and industry specialists in the field of applied and business anthropology
- Encourage bridge building between the practitioner and the academic world
- Provide a vehicle of communication for anthropologists working within the practitioner world
- Provide a forum for work concerned with qualitative business analysis inspired by anthropological theory and methods

About the Publishers

NABP publishes seven academic journals. The acceptance rate of NABP journals is less than twenty percent. The journals are indexed by UMI-Proquest-ABI Inform, EBSCOhost, GoogleScholar, and listed with Cabell's Directory, Ulrich's Listing of Periodicals, and Bowkers Publishing Resources. NABP journals are affirmed as scholarly research outlets by the following business school accrediting bodies: AACSB, ACBSP, IACBE & EQUIS. (For more information consult : http://www.na-businesspress.com/)

Call for Papers
We are always looking for good manuscripts! We encourage practitioners, students, community members, and faculty from all disciplines to submit articles. The Editors and one or more anonymous peer reviewers will review the manuscript prior to its acceptance for publication. In addition to research and academic articles, we feature case studies, commentaries and reviews. Please send manuscripts, news notes and correspondence to: Dr. Robert Guang Tian, Co-Editor, IJAP, via e-mail at rtian@medaille.edu, or rgtian@yahoo.com or ijba@na-businesspress.com

Editors

Dr. Robert G. Tian
Dr. Daming Zhou
Dr. Alfons H. van Marrewijk

Members of Editorial Board

Dr. Gordon Bronitsky, Bronitsky and Associates, USA
Dr. Andrew Z. S. Demirdjian, California State University, USA
Dr. Murad Esenov, Institute of Central Asia and Caucasian Studies, SE
Dr. Catriona Macaulay, University of Dundee, UK
Dr. Julia C. Gluesing, Wayne State University, USA
Dr. Kewal Krishan, Punjabi University, IND
Dr. Michael Lillis, Medaille College, USA
Dr. Christine Miller, Savannah College of Art and Design, USA
Mr. Toby Nord, Senior Lecturer, University of Minnesota, USA
Dr. Shuting Pan, Fudan University, PRC
Dr. Devinder Pal Singh, Punjabi University, IND
Dr. Jean N. Scandlyn, University of Colorado Denver, USA
Dr. Josephine Smart, University of Calgary, CA
Dr. Tulasi Srinivas, Emerson College, USA
Dr. Dan Trotter, Independent Business Consultant, USA
Dr. Dixon Wong, Hong Kong University, HK
Dr. Alf Walle, Galen University, BZ

Members of Advisory Board:

Dr. William O. Beeman, University of Minnesota, USA
Dr. Elizabeth Briody, Cultural Keys LLC, USA
Dr. Jayne Howell, California State University Long Beach, USA
Dr. Robbie Blinkoff, Context-Based Research Group, USA
Dr. Ken Friedman, Swinburne University of Technology, AUS
Mr. Anthony Galima, Independent Business Consultant, USA
Dr. Timothy de Waal Malefyt, BBDO Worldwide Advertising, USA
Ms. Zara Mokatsian, Near East Museum, AM
Dr. Robert J. Morais, Weinman Schnee Morais, Inc., USA
Dr. Pamela Puntenney, Environmental & Human Systems Management, USA
Dr. Elizabeth Tunstall, Swinburne University of Technology, AUS
Dr. Shengmin Yang, Central University of Nationalities, PRC
Volume 1(1)
International Journal of
Business Anthropology
Table of Contents

The Importance of Business Anthropology: Its Unique Contribution
Ann T. Jordan

European Developments in Business Anthropology
Alfons van Marrewijik

How Anthropologists Can Succeed in Business: Mediating Multiple Worlds of Inquiry
Robert J. Morais and Timothy de Waal Malefyt

Transactions en la Tienda: Alternatives to Traditional Financial Service Providers among Hispanic Immigrants in Virginia
Daisy Stevens Rojas

Indigenous People and Human Resource Management
Alf Walle

Group Differences among Nongmingong: An Ethnographic Field Work Report on Dacheng Stationary Factory
Daming Zhou and Sun Xiaoyuan

Creating Spaces Where Things Happen: The Life Story of a Business Anthropologist
Gordon Bronitsky
EDITORIAL COMMENTARY

The time that anthropologists working in business organizations were “exotic” news in newspapers and business magazines is over. Now, serious newspaper and management articles show how American and European corporations increasingly hire anthropologists to design new technology, to learn to know their customers, and to improve their business (for example, see Cohen and Sarphatie 2007, Corbett 2008, Davenport 2007, Gruener 2004, Miller 2005, Tett 2005). As larger groups of managers, marketers, engineers and designers read these articles the special qualities of business anthropologists are now better known.
It is widely recognized that business anthropology uses qualitative and ethnographic methods as an alternative to more formal methodologies (Jordan 2003, Ybema, Yanow, Wels, & Kamsteeg, 2009). Specific tools include participant observation, informal and structured interviews, and other “naturalistic”, informal, and face to face methods of investigation. Business anthropologists play a key role in developing culturally sensitive policies and strategies in a world that increasingly typified by cross cultural contact.
Not only practitioners are interested in business anthropology. Academics in organization studies, consumer behavior, marketing, public policy, product design, and international business studies increasingly include anthropological theories and methods in their research (Bate 1997). In addition, anthropological theories and methods are suggested can be effectively applied into business educations, and in fact many business schools have started to redesign their curricula with the consideration of anthropological contributions (Tian & Walle 2009, Tian 2005).
Although journals are increasingly open to anthropological methods and ethnographic writing, many of us experience difficulties in publishing research findings in mainstream journals. It is therefore necessary to create a platform to develop anthropological theories for practical use, to develop new theories from empirical data and to present ethnographic accounts of business organizations. In sum, to provide a forum for work concerned with qualitative business analysis inspired by anthropological theory and methods.
Given the rapid growth of interest and the need to provide a forum, it is justified to start a new journal especially dedicated to the field of business anthropology. We named it the International Journal of Business Anthropology which provides a vehicle of communication for anthropologists working with and within the practitioner world of business organizations. The goal of the journal is to generate an exchange of ideas between scholars, practitioners and industry specialists in the field of applied and business anthropology.
We support the call for bridge building between practitioners and academics, a difficult request so long heard in the field of business studies (Bartunek 1993). Worrisome is the growing separation of practitioners’ and academics’ practices. The daily practices of anthropologists working in or for business corporations deviate from anthropologists in academic institutions studying business organizations. The latter are occupied with teaching, publishing, obtaining research grants, and dealing with internal university politics, which leaves little time and energy to be involved in business organizations. In contrast, business anthropologists working in or for business corporations have to acquire contracts, adapt to business requirements, come up with quick responses, and produce products, which leaves little time and energy for reading academic journals and for publication. The joint creation of new knowledge in the International Journal of Business Anthropology can support a real bridge building.
In this first issue we include seven articles from large submissions. Dr. Ann Jordan, as one of the flagship scholars in the field of business anthropology, summarizes the importance of business anthropology and the unique contributions anthropologists have made to the business world. Dr. Alfons H. van Marrewijk outlines the historical development process of business anthropology in Europe, he highlights the special cases and events that are worth of continuously study. Dr. Morais and Dr. Malefyt predict a bright future for anthropologists in the financial service industry, and believe that there are intrinsic worth in broadening the typical anthropological approach to incorporate additional theory and methods from other social and behavioral sciences.
Business anthropologist Daisy Rojas provides an analysis of how Hispanics in Virginia access financial resources. She offers readers valuable analysis and advances understanding as well as practical application of how Hispanics in the US interface with financial services. Dr. Zhou Daming and his student Sun Xiaoyun look at group differences among nongmingong (peasant turned urban industrial workers), a unique social economic phenomenon in modern China, and suggest that business leaders must be aware of the group difference in their everyday business management operations. Dr. Alf Walle probes the human resources management themes business firms are usually confronted with when operating in rural areas with indigenous people and suggests that in such situations firms need to establish a policy for cultural adaptation in human resources management. In his life story essay Dr. Gordon Bronitsky makes some good points about the transition from academia to business and shares his experiences about applying anthropological tools and practices to support a business.
The journal seeks articles by anthropologically-oriented scholars and practitioners on topics such as general business anthropology theories and methods, marketing, consumer behavior, organization culture, human resources management, cross cultural management etc. Regionally focused contributions are welcome, especially when their findings can be generalized. We encourage practitioners, students, community, and faculty members to submit theoretical articles, case studies, commentaries and reviews. Please send manuscripts, news notes and correspondence to: Dr. Robert Guang Tian, Co-Editor, IJBA, via e-mail at rtian@medaille.edu, or rgtian@yahoo.com or ijba@na-businesspress.com (Robert Guang Tian and Alfons H. van Marrewijk)

REFERENCES

Bartunek, J. M. (1993). Scholarly dialogues and participatory action research. Human Relations, 46(10), 1221-1372.

Bate, P. (1997). Whatever Happened to Organizational Anthropology? A Review of the Field of Organizational Ethnography and Anthropological Studies. Human Relations, 50(9). 1147-1171.

Davenport, T. (2007). The rise of corporate anthropology, Harvard Business Review. November.

Gruener, W. (2004). When cultures shape technology. Tom's Hardware Guide. July 8th.

Cohen, M., & Sarphatie, E. (2007), Gezocht: Antropoloog m/v, Amsterdam: Aksant.

Corbett, S. (2008). Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty? New York Times Magazine. April 13th.

Jordan, A. (2003). Business Anthropology: Prospect Heights, IllinoisWaveland Publishers.

Miller, B. (2005). Anthropology and business come together. Small business bulletins. November.

Tett, G. (2005). Office Culture. Financial Times. 20th May.

Tian, R. G. and A. Walle (2009). Anthropology and business education: Practitioner applications for a qualitative method. International Journal of Management Education, Vol.7(2), pp. 59-67.

Tian, R. G. (2005). Anthropological Approach to Consumer Behavior: A Marketing Educational Case of Teaching and Learning. Journal of Advancement of Marketing Education, Vol. 7: 36-46.

Ybema, S., Yanow, D., Wels, H., & Kamsteeg, F. (2009), Organizational Ethnography. Studying the Complexities of Everyday Life, London: Sage.

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