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International Journal of Business Anthropology Vol. 1 (2)

Volume 1(2)

International Journal of

Business Anthropology

Table of Contents

Editorial Commentary

Focused Ethnography through Thematic Networks: Defining Validity in Business Anthropology Research

Pedro Oliveira

Business Ritual Studies: Corporate Ceremony and Sacred Space

Tomoko Hamada Connolly

The Social Construction of Public Infrastructure: A Case of the Dutch National Geo-information Clearinghouse Project

Henk Koerten

The Unique Contributions and the Unique Methodologies: A Concise Overview of the Applications of Business Anthropology

Guang Tian

The Effects of Intercultural Training upon the Organizational

Performance of Multinational Corporations in China

Ge Gao

The Influence of Confucian Culture on Business Management: A Case Study of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Macau

Chunxia Wang

The Role of Anthropology in Retailing: An Autoethnographic Case Study

David E.

Editorial Commentary

The International Journal of Business Anthropology (IJBA) is in the process of becoming a useful and important platform for both professional practitioners and academic scholars in the field of Business Anthropology. We hope our readers like the theoretical explorations, the case studies, the practical applications of anthropological theories and the personal reflections selected. We think the contributions are informative and invigorative and, perhaps more important; drawing attention of the business community. Increasingly, they recognize the great value of anthropological study for a better understanding of human experience and behavior in business. The formal acknowledgement of the merger of anthropology and business, as demonstrated by the IJBA, validates what both fields have known for many years; that a symbiotic relationship is necessary for the sustenance of each.

IJBA is concerned with bridging the gap between academic research and applied research by professionals. Increasingly, there is a plea for bringing practitioners and academics together in order to develop knowledge that can be applied in the field of organisation and management and visa versa. For those who are actively involved in the academic and the consultancy world, the appeal to bridge the gap between academics and practitioners is very challenging. This will not be easy as; on the one hand, practical application of academic research drifts away by the pursuit of publications in academic journals. On the other hand, academic standards and theoretical implications of applied research by professionals are sometimes limited due to time pressure.

Consequently, some anthropologists feel they function at a crossroads; forced to decide between investigative academic research and professional applied research. However, we think that practitioners turned into academics (pracademics) and academics turned into practitioners (acaditoners) together with the education of business anthropology students provide an avenue for theory to interact with “lived experiences”. The bold decision to forge ahead with our dedication to further develop an cultural understanding of business 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.

Increasingly, we see academic experts being actively involved in management topics and helping organisations to solve problems. These experts help management in distinct roles such as; researcher-consultant, change advisor, cross-cultural specialist, or cultural broker. They obtain, apart from financial support, access to interesting fields of study and data for publication. Insight in boardrooms, organisation politics and informal gatherings will result in a deeper understanding. ‘Armchair’ academic scientists will not be given such a view. The downside is also clear; in accepting financial and logistical support experts run the risk of being limited in their ethnographic research, their publications and of the misuse of their research results. Remembering our origins in American anthropology it seems that a fear of misuse clings to the ideas surrounding the field of applied anthropology. As applied anthropology seeks to work within communities, organizations and business networks, misuse of research results are not inconceivable. Therefore, IJBA seeks new opportunities and solutions to ethical difficulties that can be fostered through the open dialogue created by publications such as IJBA. If we have taken our early lessons to heart, we hope that our work will be used in appropriate ways. 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.

Dr. Ann Jordan, in the very first article of the first issue of IJBA, indicates that our dilemma as dedicated anthropologists is how to determine what questions should be asked. This deceptively simple requirement involves dedicated ethnography, in depth engagement and focused time learning from interlocutors in the field. IJBA addresses meaningful issues present and pressing in our own lives as well as those of many others seeking knowledge from our discipline. In many ways the work of applied anthropology has come to fruition through this publication. And yet, with privilege comes responsibility. 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.

In our second issue Dr. Pedro Oliveira explores the validity of ethnographic findings in business anthropology. He argues that the ethnographic work is as methodologically valid as the production by human scientists of other disciplines. He suggests that business anthropology could be a field marked by greater methodological accountability, an argument that has been strongly supported with the case analysis and logical discussions. Dr. Oliveira indicates that thematic networks could be the instrument used to start imagining forms of representing validity inside the discipline and as an instrument for future branding of business anthropology research.

Dr. Tomoko Hamada Connolly demonstrates symbolic readings of ritual analysis can be used to analyze how corporate ceremonies shed light on the structure of business organizations as a whole. Dr. Connolly argues that we can analyze corporate activities as ritual, and that through a detailed ritual analysis from an anthropological perspective we can better understand corporate activities.

Henk Koerten and Dr. Marcel Veenswijk reveal that the inter-organizational geo-data exchange has become a predominant public concern over the last decade, leading to organizational outgrowth between not-for-profit and governmental settings. They advocates that narrative analysis can be used to clarify where geo-data exchange stands at present and also shed light on ethnographic material obtained through the study of organizations involved in geo-data exchange.

Dr. Guang Tian presents a concise overview of the applications of business anthropology in his article by summarizing the special contributions that anthropologists can make to the business world and just how they may make them. He stresses that by using specially developed research methods, such as ethnographic study, anthropologist can help business management to improve performance and profitability in various ways. In his fieldwork report Ge Gao examines the effects of intercultural training upon the organizational performance of multinational corporations in China. He stresses the importance and value of intercultural training for new employees working in the cultural environment that differs from their home cultures. His findings propose that proper cultural training can help employees adapt and perform in ways that improve the success of individuals who relocate in China.

Dr. Chunxia Wang provides an empirical analysis of Confucian cultural values and their impacts on entrepreneurs in Macau. Her case study exhibits that Macau retains the traditional Confucian culture, which influences the business models by the Chinese entrepreneurs. She determines that Macau forms a typical acquaintances society, in which relationship plays an important role in everyday business operations. By using a life story approach, David McClendon offers us an autoethnographic case study about his family business. Although he may not have been systematically trained in business anthropology, he claims that many small business owners may apply anthropology in their daily operations unconsciously. He argues that business anthropology has a role in understanding and enhancing small business as much as it does for large corporations.

With thanks to the high quality work of our authors, it is our honor to have this opportunity to serve the business anthropology community and meet the needs of business anthropologists to publish their academic works with strong practical values. It is our duty to build such a platform to our colleagues to share their thoughts, their findings, and their ideas. It is our obligation to promote business anthropology as a special field in the disciplines of business and anthropology. It is our hope that in the near future business anthropology as a special field will be able to draw more and more attention from the academic world and from the business world. We are extremely confident about the success of business anthropology in the world today as well as tomorrow.

The quality of the articles submitted and the sophistication of theoretical analysis may already indicate overcoming the division between academia and applied anthropology. We leave the readers to determine this, for this issue and following issues. We continuously seek 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, Editor, IJBA, via e-mail to ijba@na-businesspress.com, or rgtian@yahoo.com (Daisy S. Rojas, Robert G. Tian, Daming Zhou, and Alfons H. van Marrewijk)

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