What is Organisational Anthropology?

Organisational Anthropology is a way of studying organisational life, otherwise known as ethnography. It is an interpretative research approach, based on scientific description and interpretation of organisational members and their work environment.


Our study of organisational life is focused on understanding and interpreting members within organisations from their own point of view. This enables us to approach and use ethnographic methods as a science that helps organisations to make sense of the meanings of their cultures and subcultures through a refinement of dialogue and constructive debate. According to Kunda (2006):

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 has also in its power, the ability 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, 2006:11).

Kunda, G. (2006). Engineering Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Are you interested in learning about ethnography as a research method to understand your organisational cultures and subcultures? Please contact us for a confidential discussion on +61 451 574 900 or email connect@diversityfirst.com.au.


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