What is Business Anthropology? An Ethnographic Study of an Explorative Workshop

  • Oana Brindusa Albu
  • Frederik Larsen
  • Hallur Tor Sigurdarson
  • Kirsti Reitan Andersen
  • Louise Lyngfeldt Gorm Hansen


The anthropology of organizations is always political; it might take place over shorter, as well as longer, time spans and in singular, pluralistic, or even virtual, settings. This paper addresses such issues by describing and analyzing fieldwork experiences of an academic workshop, which took place at the Copenhagen Business School in 2012 under the title of ‘The Business of Ethnography’. The purpose of the workshop was to create a forum in which to discuss business anthropology as an emerging field or sub-discipline of anthropology. The paper considers three conditions (reflexivity, familiarity, and temporality) which give the mise en abyme configuration of the field – the site where action happens – and pose significant challenges to contemporary business ethnographers. We argue that by acknowledging these three factors one can advance easier towards the ambitious goal of rendering organizational interactions intelligible and meaningful.

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