Advancing the Value of Ethnography

One Small Step for Ethnography, One Giant Leap for Banking and Insurance


Cite this article:

2020 EPIC Proceedings p 127, ISSN 1559-8918,

PechaKucha Presentation—In this presentation we argue that in many regulated industries such as banking, finance, and insurance, a post qualitative vs. quantitative world is not yet a reality. In such an environment, advanced analytics could be likened to being in its teenage years, while behavioral research is still in its infancy. Big data primarily drives our metrics, but in such a highly digitized and individualized culture, we know that ethnography is the missing piece of the puzzle. This means that as social scientists we must be the loudest (and sometimes lone) voice calling to leverage employees who are trained in these skill sets and incorporate these methods into our work. Slow and steady wins the race and our wins look different when compared with companies that already have been convinced of the value and don’t have to do as much work to incorporate them into existing analysis. We have found that becoming EPIC members has been a turning point for our own growth mindset. Our industries are still primarily relationship-based, and for those analysts new to regulated industries, EPIC is the ideal community to help propel the legitimization of a permanent place for qualitative methods in our data-driven, highly regulated industry.

Keywords: quantitative methods, mixed methods, research design, finance, insurance, regulated.

Jennifer Roth, PhD, is a Senior Business Strategy Analyst at USAA working in analytics related to property claims. Jennifer has an MA in anthropology and a PhD in applied demography; she is also currently working toward a Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter designation. Jennifer has been a champion for the use of social science in corporate settings since starting her career and is often sought out by leaders for her assistance in research design. She is very grateful to have Sara as her partner in this journey! Jennifer can be reached at

Sara Kluckhohn is a Senior Decision Science Analyst at USAA, a major auto and home insurer, where she tracks and reports on customer experiences. Sara has an MS in sociology and is studying for the Certified Specialist in Predictive Analytics exam offered by the CAS Institutes. She and Jennifer have been colleagues and friends for 5 years and often partner together in cross functional efforts to support each other’s research. Sara can be reached at