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Introduction: From Business to Business Anthropology (3)


Cultural Audits


Cultural values and preferences can impact how the employees, vendors/suppliers and customers of a global organization respond to its strategies, products, practices and communications.  A marketing strategy, training program, compensation plan, advertising campaign, competency model, corporate communication or personnel policy is successful in one culture might be totally ineffective in another culture, if adopted without modification the result will not only make the adopting firm loss its revenue, but will lose its goodwill as well.  Cultural audits examine current practices, programs and processes to identify how culturally appropriate they may be for multi-cultural or global audiences.  Cultural audits will enable the global organization to align business processes with desired outcomes. ITAP International is a professional consulting firm that is ready to help business organizations achieve their global vision and strategy through customized cultural audits and action plans based on auditing results. [cxxix]

Businesses firms fail to reach their production or sales goals despite reasonable investments in capital and labor from time to time.  Sometimes they experience strikes or other disputes.  In such cases, a business anthropologist may be hired to carry out a cultural audit, a detailed study of the company undertaken in order to pinpoint discrepancies between the company’s goals and what is really going on.[cxxx]  A cultural audit can be conducted by a permanent employee of the company but is more appropriate to be done by an outside cultural consultant with anthropological training.  In either case, the results of a cultural audit are considered highly confidential, since companies, especially those publicly traded ones, usually prefer not to air their problems publicly.[cxxxi] 

Gwynne outlines the process to perform a cultural audit, in which a business anthropologist may need to interviews employees at all levels of the organization.  As a cultural auditor, the business anthropologist might be not only interested in employees’ opinions (both positive and negative) and their suggestions for improvement, but also be interested in their values, feelings, attitudes, and expectations about their organization and the place they are within it. When doing cultural auditing business anthropologist may ask the interviewees a wide range of questions, include:  What are the company’s goals, and what strategies are employed to reach these goals?  What happens when these goals are not met?  How can the workplace atmosphere best be characterized?  What positions do the interviewees occupy in the company, and what do they feel they are contributing to the company’s success?  How they are expected to behave and to communicate with others?  Do these expectations reflect reality?  What mechanisms exist through which employees can make their opinions, ideas, or grievances heard?  Are performance incentives offered and, if so, to whom and under what circumstances?  Do they work?  Why or why not?  These questions are merely examples of the types of questions asked by cultural auditors; the scope and range in fact could be virtually unlimited.[cxxxii]

Sometimes the business anthropologist who functions as a cultural auditor may go outside the immediate company to interview members of its board of directors or even its stockholders for detailed information. The information collected is put together in the form of a report containing specific recommendations, the company’s manages or directors can take specific corrective actions according to the recommendations made by the business anthropologist made.  A cultural audit undertaken by Briody and Baba at General Motors, for many years one of the giants of the American automobile manufacturing industry, provides a good example.  A few years ago, management observed that some of the employees who had worked long-term in any one of GM’s overseas branches seemed discontented and less than fully productive on their return to the United States.[cxxxiii]   Many returnees, for their part, felt their overseas work had not been sufficiently appreciated and that their status in the company had suffered because of their overseas service. 

GM’s in-house, full-time business anthropologist Elizabeth Briody was assigned the task to undertake a cultural audit of the company to help its managers solve the problem. Briody conducted a series of interviews with GM employees at all levels of the company.  The results were interesting.  It turned out that some of GM’s domestic operations were administratively linked, or “coupled,” with overseas operations, while others were not.  Employees of “de-coupled” domestic operations saw themselves as GM’s “elite.”[cxxxiv]  Their managers had little understanding of, or appreciation for, the importance of overseas work, and they sometimes shunted employees returning from overseas assignments into less promising career paths.   On the basis of her cultural audit, Briody was able to recommend some specific ways in which GM could improve returning employees’ productivity and job satisfaction.  In addition to coupling operations, she recommended, for example, the establishment of an exchange program in which American and foreign workers would trade places for a few years and then return to their original jobs without having sidetracked their careers.[cxxxv]



Organizational Change


The last two decades of the 20th century were a time of change for organizations, with a preoccupation in changing organizational culture, a concept attributed to business anthropology.  These changes have been accompanied by questions about different styles of organizing.  In both public and private sector organizations and in the first and third worlds, there is now a focus on understanding how organizational change can be achieved, how indigenous practices can be incorporated to maximum effect, and how opportunities can be improved for disadvantaged groups, particularly women.  Business anthropologist Susan Wright once explored organizational culture as a tool of management. She presented and analyzed the latest anthropological work on the management of organizations and their development, demonstrating the use of recent theory and examining the practical problems which anthropology can help to solve.[cxxxvi]

Just like cultures, businesses are very dynamic rather than static; this is particular true for those large transnational corporations, which are in a constant state of change.  They are expanding to take advantage of economies of scale, contracting or restructuring for greater efficiency, constantly implementing innovations to encourage greater productivity.  One innovation that has become very popular in the past fifteen years is a change from a department-based structure to a team-based structure.  An aerospace company in which all the engineers were formerly assigned to the engineering department, for example, has created new “integrated product teams” (IPTs) in which all the workers involved in producing one type of aircraft, from managers to engineers to shop floor workers, are organized into a single team.  Another popular innovation is “self-directed work teams” (SDWTs), the members of which manage themselves (to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the company).  Both kinds of teams have been shown to enhance productivity and to contribute to employees’ sense that they are an integral and important part of a larger pattern.[cxxxvii]

A major role for business anthropologists is to contribute to such organizational changes. The team structure is particularly well suited to anthropological analysis. For example, applied anthropologist Judith Benson helped the Boeing Company create and integrate product teams into the structure of the business.  Applying anthropological methods and skills, Benson helped to improve Boeing’s team work efficiency by interviewing shop floor mechanics.  She was able to recommend specific changes in the way team leaders worked with their teams, which fostered Boeing’s goal of involving its entire labor force in “determining the course of work.”[cxxxviii]



Product Design and Development


Another major role for business anthropologists involves helping businesses improve their products, design and develop new products, or improve the way their products are presented to consumers. In general, companies hire an anthropologist to conduct an internal or external ethnographic study for a simple reason: to uncover new ways to achieve competitive advantage. It takes research to understand new opportunities for products or services, or internal focus to change organizational issues, among other things.  In recent years, ethnography has become popular with designers of products and technologies as a way of learning about the experience of the users.[cxxxix]  This research approach has been applied to such diverse problems as:  How to design office environments that encourage group work and collaboration?  How to design websites that fit the “mental model” and usage patterns of their target audiences?  How to design museum exhibits that maximize the engagement between visitors and displays?

The value of incorporating ethnography into product development and work practices research has been widely recognized in the business world, particularly in the design industry.  New firms have arisen that specialize in design research, and many of them explicitly include ethnography. To what extent these ‘ethnographers’ are business anthropologists is a point of contention. Sometimes it appears that being an ‘ethnographer’ means a willingness and ability to go to a customer’s location and observe, using a video camera. Contextual analysis of findings is strictly optional, and not well understood or necessarily valued by the design firm or its clients.[cxl]

Some business anthropologists specialize in helping businesses design and develop products that will result in profits for the company.   As an example, a business anthropologist recently undertook research on behalf of a corporation manufacturing surgical instruments to assess medical doctors’ demand for these instruments.  The method used was to observe emergency-room doctors on the job in order to gain insight into how the doctors actually used the instruments.  In prior interviews, the doctors had reported that their main concern was that their instruments be highly accurate.  However, the anthropologist discovered through direct observation that speed was actually more important than accuracy; the doctors preferred instruments that permitted them to work rapidly. This insight convinced the company to redesign its surgical instruments, and its market share increased.[cxli]

The burgeoning high-technology field is particularly ripe for anthropological input into product development.  Business anthropologists are increasingly called upon to help generate ideas for new technologies or new ways to use existing ones as well as to provide businesses with a clearer understanding of the effects of new technologies on consumers. [cxlii] In order to develop ideas for new products and services, for example, applied anthropologist Bonnie A. Nardi has studied the ways in which workers use technology at Apple Computers and AT&T.  Jean Canavan, a business anthropologist and manager of culture and technology initiatives at Motorola, has described how a 1996 study of pager use in rural China, where there is a scarcity of telephones, “prompted Motorola to start thinking seriously about two-way paging outside urban markets.”[cxliii]

In a very different application, Patricia Sachs’ work at Nynex illustrates the way in which an anthropological analysis of ethnographic data can influence the re-design of work systems. Customer repair work at Nynex became disjointed and inefficient when a new ‘trouble ticketing system’ was introduced.  It broke repair work down into small pieces to be distributed to disassociated individual workers.  If a worker did not complete a repair job by the end of his shift, the job was re-cycled to another worker, without an opportunity for the two workers to talk to one another.  An activity analysis conducted by Sachs showed that the whole activity surrounding repair work, especially making sense of a problem through conversations among multiple workers, is crucial in solving a customer problem efficiently.  The new information system disrupted the natural activity pattern and made the problem resolution process much less effective. [cxliv]





Some twenty years ago, John Sherry, one of the pilot business anthropologists, indicated that marketing and anthropology afford each other some distinct opportunities for intellectual cooperation.[cxlv]  Advertising is perhaps the most obvious of the marketing techniques employed by businesses, but there are many other steps in the successful marketing of consumer goods and services. Business anthropologists involved in marketing use standard anthropological field methods.  Their goals include helping private businesses identify the potential consumers of a product, raising consumers’ awareness of the product, and creating demand for the product through, for example, appealing advertising, user-friendly web sites, attractive packaging, appropriate product placement, and affordable pricing.  In the words of one applied anthropologist and marketing expert, “There is no better way to get closer to the consumer…than by using ethnography.”[cxlvi]

One area in which business anthropologists are playing a growing role is market research, defined as the applications-oriented study of broad cultural patterns and trends, as well as sub-cultural or ethnic group variability, aimed at determining characteristics that affect consumer behavior.[cxlvii]  The market researcher attempts to determine the distinguishing features of various cultural contexts, and the factors that might motivate consumers, within those contexts to buy particular products.  Related questions include identifying the places where consumers would expect to purchase particular products, what kind of packaging would encourage them to purchase these products, and how much money they would be willing to spend.  The most common technique used by business anthropologists involved in market research is to conduct individual interviews or focus groups with potential purchasers of a product, in order to gain information on their needs, values, opinions, likes, and dislikes. [cxlviii]

Business anthropologists involved in market research also analyze the constantly shifting symbolic meanings consumers attach to products.  An important factor here is consumers’ conscious or unconscious desire to create or enhance a particular image of themselves or their economic or social status.  A number of corporations specifically hired business anthropologists to help them create image-enhancing products.[cxlix]  Chevrolet, for example, eager to command a position at the top of the lucrative sport utility vehicle (SUV) market, hired business anthropologist Ilsa Schumacher to study how car buyers decide which vehicle to purchase. Focusing on the symbolic role played by automobiles and consumers’ inner motivations to purchase them, Schumacher conducted in-depth interviews with car buyers in order to discover what kind of image SUVs have in the minds of potential purchasers.   She found that some potential buyers were eager to overcome “gender identification.”  Women with children, in particular, liked the fact that SUVs, unlike station wagons, do not announce to the world “I’m a mother.” Other consumers viewed SUVs as simultaneously safe and adventurous.  Chevrolet’s use of this kind of information has helped to make SUVs enormously popular.  Indeed, says marketing expert Ilsa Schumacher, “If a marketer is skillful enough to equate his or her product with (its) deeper symbolism, they have the potential to turn it from just another good products into a cultural icon.” [cl]



Consumer Behavior


Another significant contribution of anthropology has been to critique and expand constructs underlying consumer behavior and marketing theory, based on empirical research in non-Western societies. For example, Eric Arnould was among the first anthropologists to interpret his extensive, long-term ethnographic studies in West Africa for marketing audiences. In an early paper, he problematized the notion of ‘preference formation’ (i.e., how a consumer develops likes and dislikes, an idea that is central to diffusion theory) by comparing the standard Western view of this construct with both a local construction that is compatible with pre-market socio-centric values, and an Islamic ethno-nationalist view in which individuals achieve status through innovations based on ‘Meccan’ goods.[cli]  Since then, Arnould has published an extended series of papers that draw upon ethnographic sources to shed new light on marketing concepts ranging from cross-border trade to relationship management enabling an empirically-based globalization of the marketing literature.[clii]

A key to being successful in the business world is through the understanding of consumer demand, their level of desire and their urgency to purchase a particular item or service, and how to stimulate it.[cliii]  What products are consumers likely to purchase?  Which are they likely to avoid, and why?  Which might be modified to enhance their appeal?  Some product elements affecting consumer demand (such as price, ease of use, efficacy, and attractiveness) are obvious, but others, such as the unconscious meanings consumers may associate with particular products, are less so. To obtain information on consumer demands, business anthropologists conduct ethnographic research, interviewing and observing consumers in their “natural habitats.”[cliv]  The field methods they use include one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and even videotaping.

Since not all consumers are alike in any society, the market researcher usually differentiates among potential consumers by factors such as sex, generation, age, occupation, socioeconomic status, level of education, place of residence, ethnic group affiliation, and geographical context.[clv]  This aspect of market research is termed market segmentation.  The business anthropologist attempts to understand, for example, what kinds of consumers, as distinguished by specific characteristics, would be likely to purchase a particular product, and how these consumers’ expectations about the product for performance or longevity might vary.[clvi]

As a business professor with anthropology training, Robert Guang Tian and his students conducted a series study on cultural factors and food consumption using an anthropological approach.  Their findings indicate that to understand human responses we must first understand the culture within which the consumer behavior takes place. The extent of cultural understanding and cultural awareness of the consumers also influences behavior and purchasing decisions. Buying products is a way for the consumer to gain cultural meaning as well as establish self-identities. One approach to the analysis of consumer behavior is termed cross-cultural interpreting, meaning that there are differences in cultural norms and values between countries. These differences can be best illustrated through studying food consumption. The beliefs and attitudes a culture has about food consumption are important to the choices consumers make about food; this is particularly meaningful to the study of consumer behavior at various ethnic restaurants. Food habits and consumption represent ethnic, regional, and national identities, and differ from country to country because of cultural differences. [clvii]

The British anthropologist Daniel Miller is an especially prolific scholar with numerous volumes on various aspects of consumption spanning to the present from the late 1980s.  Drawing on a range of examples from Western and developing cultures, Miller offers a re-reading of contemporary society as the product of both individual and collective identity and behavior.  He indicates that Marxist interpretations of the expansion in the range and number of material goods has tended to view people as estranged from the objects they produce, however massive consumption reinforces the nature of capitalism that is fragmented and individualistic. Miller, by revealing the creative potential in the relationship between people and goods has developed a more positive theory of material culture. He argues that rather than being oppressed by them, people redefine material objects to make them express themselves and their cultures by showing that everyday objects reflect not only personal tastes and attributes, but also moral principles and social ideals.[clviii]

Miller connects shopping to sacrificial ritual.[clix] He notes that sacrifice has two central features – it places the sanctifier in a relationship with a transcendent entity and thereby sanctifies the former, and it marks the transition from production to consumption (e.g., first fruits sacrifice). In shopping, which usually is carried out by women, the shopper is linked through bonds of love and devotion to a family, either an existing family, or one that she hopes to have one day.  It is the underlying relationship that guides the woman’s purchases, which are thoughtful and thrifty. While consumer goods might be mechanisms of alienation, discrimination, or control, this case suggests that a mature anthropology does not make such judgments a priori. Just as in sacrifice, purchase of the commodity transforms it to an object of consumption from an object of production.[clx]




  1. 6.     Summary and Conclusion


Business refers to commercial or industrial enterprise and the people who constitute it for the activity of providing goods and services involving financial and commercial and industrial aspects.  Business and industry are fundamental institutions of organizing economic activities to meet basic human needs in the modern market societies. There are different definitions of business, for example, a business can be defined as an organization that provides goods and services to others who want or need them. The formats of business and the function areas of business are various cross the real business world.  There are many factors influence the success of a business, include but not are not limited to political factors, economical factors, technology factors, international factors, and completion factors.  The key issue for any business to be successful is to make detailed business plan and to seriously implement the business plan in its business processes. It is very important that business leaders take their social responsibilities and behave themselves within the business ethics. 

Traditionally anthropology is categorized as a social science but broadly speaking anthropology is the study of human beings as both natural and social creatures from the time of our pre-human ancestors’ earliest appearance on earth to the present.   To study human beings as both natural and social creatures, a number of different vantage points are required. Reflecting the diversity of anthropologists’ interests in human beings, anthropology is traditionally divided into four major branches: cultural anthropology (also called sociocultural anthropology), archaeology, physical anthropology (also called biological anthropology), and anthropological linguistics.  Each of the four traditional branches of anthropology includes applied anthropologists, and as such applied anthropology became the fifth field in anthropology.  Anthropologists blend respect for cultural difference and awareness of common humanity.  This, combined with interdisciplinary research methods, can help make policies, programs, and plans that improve human well-being around the world.

Applied and practicing anthropologists build bridges between cultural worlds.  They may work in teams with other professionals; they must communicate across disciplines. They may make videos or write explanations of policy or research for a lay audience. Applied anthropologists can also be medical anthropologists—investigating the complex interactions among human health, nutrition, social environment and cultural beliefs and practices. Also developmental anthropologists apply their expertise to the solutions of practical human problems especially in the developing world.  They provide information about communities that help agencies adapt projects to local conditions and local needs. Developmental anthropologists working for the US Agency for International Development, the World Bank, United Nations Development Program provide policy makers with the knowledge of local-level ecological and cultural conditions, so that projects will avoid unanticipated problems and minimize negative impacts.

            The current interest in business anthropology got its start in early 1980s when applied-anthropologists investigated how people interact with technology. Since then, a wide number of anthropologists have worked within the business world, often adopting titles such as “knowledge liaison,” “ethnographer,” and “evaluator.”  In recent years, business anthropologists have become more involved in strategic and tactical projects involving consumer research.  In such work, anthropologists often evaluate technological products before their release. In practice, business anthropologists study almost everything from marketing strategies to corporate culture, and business development.



Mini Case


Electrolux Redesigns Itself Johan Hjertonsson’s drive for change[clxi]

Johan Hjertonsson was lounging around his house outside Stockholm late one Saturday afternoon in 2003 when his boss, Electrolux CEO Hans Straberg called. "Hans said: 'We have a problem,"' recalls the 38-year-old Hjertonsson. "Things aren't moving fast enough." Sales were falling, products were taking too long to get to market, and consumers weren't sure why they should buy from Electrolux instead of the competition. Straberg told Hjertonsson: "I want you to fix this."

In the past, the CEO of the giant Swedish appliance maker would have dealt with weak sales by turning to the company's army of engineers to power up a new line of products. But this time, Straberg chose a more radical approach. Instead of letting Electrolux engineers dominate the development process, he opted to go with another model -- teams of designers, engineers, marketers, and salespeople working together to design consumer-friendly products.

            This model had been developed by Hjertonsson when he was marketing manager of the floor products and small appliance unit, which had been hit hard in the 1990s by cheaper Chinese products. The team-based approach became known as the Consumer Innovation Program. Hjertonsson reinvented his entire division, taking it from an engineer-driven, heavy manufacturer with full-scale operations in many countries to an integrated global company driven by teams and guided by consumer insights. He brought in innovation/design consultant IDEO to benchmark his program, then launched it in 2001.

            By then, the entire company was having trouble from increasing Asian competition. In 2003, Hjertonsson, now head of Consumer Innovation, hired strategy consultant McKinsey & Co. to develop a questionnaire, which was sent to 500 managers. His team then followed up with 60 in-depth interviews. Four problems emerged: Managers didn't know enough about their customers, so they couldn't figure out what to develop; products were well-engineered but weren't filling consumer needs; R&D wasn't in sync with commercial product launches; and executives were afraid to take risks. "That," says Hjertonsson, "was the toughest and the hardest part to change."

            In early 2004, Straberg and Hjertonsson began a six-week road show, visiting hundreds of company managers to explain the Consumer Innovation Program. "The reaction was: 'I met my quota last month, I met my budget, what's the big deal?"' Hjertonsson says. The big deal, as managers quickly learned, was that Straberg wasn't just interested in monthly quotas. He wanted to reinvent the company, changing the way products were developed, brought to market, and sold. He was calling for a total business-model revolution, not evolution.

            Fast-forward to 2006, and Electrolux is morphing into a very different company. It uses a series of innovation metrics to measure unmet consumer needs and how well new products meet them; how products are developed and launched; and whether the right product and marketing managers are in the right jobs. Hjertonsson simply calls this "talent management."

            Hjertonsson wields both carrots and sticks. Bonuses are based on how well managers adapt to the new system at Electrolux. The evaluation process includes a series of 30 questions aimed at figuring out how well managers are adapting to the regime. Electrolux uses three basic measures. First there is what they call "value market share" which is the portion of the consumer's wallet going to Electrolux versus other competitors. It is determined by the volume of appliances multiplied by the average price. Electrolux also looks closely at growth of profit margins and at average prices. The purpose of all three of these metrics is to shift focus to higher-value products and de-emphasize those that have become commoditized.

            Those who resist change are given increasingly pointed warnings. Hjertonsson says someone who disregards the new message at first receives a polite lecture from that person's manager. If the behavior doesn't change, a more severe dressing down follows. Finally, an employee's manager is told that if the laggard doesn't shape up immediately, the individual should get the boot. "If you continue to invest time in these people, you slow this process down." Hjertonsson says.

            One of the biggest changes in Electrolux is the switch from using marketing surveys that ask consumers what they want to actually visiting consumers in their homes to see how they use their appliances. "We never ask the consumer what they want," says Hjertonsson. "We do anthropology. We study the consumer."

            The new consumer-centric focus has caught the attention of designers such as Henrik Otto, 41, who was recruited by Straberg in August, 2004, from carmaker Volvo to be Electrolux' design chief. Otto had been using a similar approach at Volvo and found the challenge of applying the method at a completely different kind of company irresistible. He also saw similarities between designing cars and designing appliances. "It's not purely about price and performance anymore. It's about the satisfaction people get out of the products," he says. "Now, people want their personalities to be reflected by their appliances."

            Under Otto's leadership, the design department began asking "how do we make these products more emotional, and how do we get away from the boxy white look of home appliances?" Through home visits and interviews with more than 160,000 consumers worldwide, various types of core consumer profiles emerged. They were refined by Electrolux into four archetypes dubbed Anna, Catherine, Maria, and Monica to help the innovation teams visualize who they were developing products for.

            Catherine is a neatness freak, while Anna just wants to get the chores over as quickly as possible. Monica is superefficient and Maria is a homebody who dotes on her family. Hjertonsson says the personas cut across nationality, age, and socioeconomic groups. During product development training sessions, managers are assigned one of the models and encouraged to think of her as a real person, giving her a fictional life story.
            Straberg is training 700 managers, including nearly all of his top execs, in the methods of the Consumer Innovation Program. Working in small groups that include designers, engineers, and marketers, the managers develop their prototype products. By working in multidisciplinary teams from the beginning, designers avoid developing products that can't be engineered, engineers eschew technological solutions that aren't visually appealing, and marketers can help shape products so that retailers are more likely to give them prominent play.

            Electrolux has a way to go in turning itself into an innovative, design-driven company. In a trial run of the training program, two senior management teams came up with prototype products and then submitted them to consumer panels for review. The upshot? "They killed us," says one participant. Some top managers still don't know how to appeal to consumers.  

But others do. In Britain, home visits provided the inspiration for the Twin Clean vacuum. Consumer Innovation Program project director Anthony Ford, 40, went to one woman's house and watched as she struggled to clean the dust filter in a competitor's bagless vacuum. He decided Electrolux could make something better.

            But his team didn't get it right the first time. The prototype they designed was rejected by consumers as too big and heavy. The problem, Otto says, was that the team zeroed in on a technical solution without considering how the vacuum would actually be used or how practical its size was. In short, the team failed in its ethnography. It may have looked at how people vacuumed, but it didn't really see how much they had to struggle to operate them. After a redesign, the Twin Clean hit store shelves in Europe in 2005 at 295 euros ($370), and has just launched in the U.S. at $500.

            Two new refrigerators, Glacier and Source, have also come out of home visits. Richard Sells, director of the division for cold appliances, says that through the innovation process, including home visits and focus groups, his team learned that consumers wanted automatic icemakers in their refrigerators as well as water dispensers, but didn't like the amount of space they took. Consumers are also drinking more bottled water, but they find it bulky to bring home and worry about the environmental effects of all the packaging.

            Electrolux' solution was to design smaller water and ice units and a water filter and carbonation system that is compact. Glacier and Source have automatic icemakers that are smaller than average, freeing up valuable refrigerator space. Source also has a carbonated water dispenser. Introduced in Europe in January, 2006, each refrigerator costs 3,220 euros ($1,600). The company is selling twice as many units as it had estimated.
            Electrolux is also using design thinking to relaunch older products. Countertop dishwashers and frost-free freezers in Europe are cases in point. Electrolux relaunched a mini-dishwasher about the size of large microwave in Italy, aimed at households with one or two people. When these households have full-size dishwashers, they wait for them to be full, and run them only once or twice a week. That makes it harder to get dishes clean. It also means favorite mugs or plates can't be used every day. The Electrolux machine was marketed with the pitch that it allows those favorites to be used daily. Frank Dowling, North American marketing and design director, says home visits are helpful for his engineers. "It brings the consumer focus that a lot of the designers don't see," he says. That helped Electrolux engineers redesign dishwashers for the U.S. market, repositioning baskets and racks after watching consumers load machines.

            While Straberg and Hjertonsson have made progress reinventing Electrolux, they don't kid themselves that they are finished. Hjertonsson believes it will take "many, many years," to complete the transformation. "Once you are on this quest," he says, "it is a continuous journey rather than a race."


Review Questions


  1. What are the most important principles and issues in the modern business world?  Please try to answer the question from business perspective and from anthropological perspective.
  2. What have you learned about business process, business plan, and several major business function areas and their relations?
  3. What basic anthropology concepts and principles have you learned?  Can you tell the relations and differences among various anthropological sub fields?
  4. Why business anthropology is a new but fast growing subfield in applied anthropology?   What a contribution that business anthropologists can make to the business world?
  5. Why is it significance to study business anthropology as a subject for students majoring either in business or in anthropology?
  6. What the major areas that business anthropology can be applied in real business world and how a typical anthropologist works in everyday practice?
  7. What have you learned through reading the mini case included in this chapter?


Notes will be provided upon requesting!

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