Business Anthropology

Academic Program: 
Course Description: 

Business Anthropology is a flourishing sector in which anthropologists, who specialize in studying cultural and social differences, apply their knowledge, skills and research methods to improve business performance, competitiveness and communication. Business anthropologists are able to help corporations develop culturally appropriate ways of doing business with suppliers, business partners, or customers; promote smooth working relationships among employees from different cultures; develop specific strategies or products that respect or comply with local cultural expectations.

The most powerful research tool developed by anthropologists is called ethnography. Ethnography allows observing what people actually do and how they motivate their actions. When ethnographic research is taken into a business context, it can be used to gain insights into patterns of behavior that help businesses thrive and innovate.

Unlike a traditional market researcher, who asks specific, highly practical questions, anthropological researchers visit consumers, companies and organizations in their own environments to observe, listen, and interview in a non-directed way. By applying these skills business anthropology provides innovative and cost-cutting insights into local cultures, as well as a thorough understanding of behavioral motivations of actors from different cultural or social backgrounds. 

Learning Outcomes: 



Interpersonal Communication Skills

Students will be required to explain and interpret their viewpoints in a critical personal and small group environment.

Technology Skills

Students will hone their skills in making professional oral presentations and in participating in a simulation game.

Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity

Students will have increased understanding and acceptance of socio-cultural diversities of viewpoints in business and management. Emphasis in comparison of world regions will be extremely relevant.

Quantitative Reasoning

In addition to qualitative case analyses, quantitative tools will be introduced to analyze cross-cultural data.

Critical Thinking

Students will be encouraged to question the applicability of theoretical models, as well as the value of quantitative and non-quantitative data and of case studies.

Ethics and Responsibility

Students will be motivated to consider the ethical limitations of management in particular when dealing with lack of integrity and power relations.

Management Knowledge and Skills

The course will develop a number of strategic management and business models by referring to cross-cultural practices.


A)    Attending all sessions and active participation in discussions, role-plays, activities: 40%

 B)   Individual Written Assignment at the end of the course (60%)

You will have to summarize the most relevant aspect of the course for you through an imaginative case study (4 pages) in which you, as an anthropologist, convince a company of the value added of your consultancy. Your case tells the story of how you get the consultancy task and how you develop it through your work.