What is Organisational Anthropology?

Organisational Anthropology is a way of studying organisational life. It is an interpretative research approach, based on ethnographic methods – scientific description and interpretation of informants. We centre our study of organisational life on understanding and interpreting members within organisations from their own point of view. This enables us to approach and use interpretative anthropology as a science that helps organisations to make sense of the meanings of their cultures through a refinement of debate.

The strength of ethnography is its concern with detail: ethnographers focus on limited settings, routines, everyday life, and strive to understand ‘the native point of view’ – what their subjects think they are up to. Such an approach tends to shy away from the sweeping generalisation, the big statement, but it is also in its power to puncture inflated or overstated ideological points of view, to bring to the surface hidden or obscured meanings, and to offer images, interpretations and acts, that if nothing else, will allow an informed debate (Kunda, 1992:23).

Kunda, G. (1992). Engineering Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.