by ALLEN W. BATTEAU, Wayne State University, & ROBERT J. MORAIS, Weinman Schnee Morais, Inc.
Ethnography is at a crossroads. A methodology that was once the exclusive preserve of anthropologists, with its precursors found among a few colonial administrators, intrepid explorers, Indian agents, and their academic advisors, and, at least in the eyes of anthropologists, “owned” by anthropology, has in the past fifty years been embraced by numerous academic disciplines including sociology, education research, design research, and management studies. The founding and ten-year growth of the EPIC conference is recognition within numerous quarters that ethnography matters. Central to EPIC is “the view that theory and practice inform one another and that the integration of rigorous methods and theory from multiple disciplines creates transformative value for businesses.”
Overlapping with ethnography’s evolution, during the last several decades, the application of anthropology in business has gained increasing recognition; although,...