by JASMINE CHIA & SAMUEL HAGEN A senior leadership team gathers in the executive boardroom. The doors are closed; the glass is opaque. Sparkling water is served. Projected on the conference screen is not a financial statement, or an operating report, but instead, an intricate diagram resembling a map or relational lineage. The subject of the meeting is the company’s reorganization – a “reorg.” Perhaps a desperate cost-cutting measure, or perhaps a tactfully planned efficiency boost, this reorg is led by a team of outside management consultants who drew the diagram slide and now lead the meeting. A confluence of rectangular boxes – “heads” – are organized according to hierarchy, with the CEO (and her board) on top; one notch down are the leaders of each business unit – Product, Sales, Finance, Human Resources. But the way these organizational charts will be re-drawn is not a purely functional exercise – like map-making, it is deeply symbolic and imbued with power. Figure 1 (left): First organizational chart...
Finance, Precarity, and the Dismantling of Organizations: New Challenges for the Anthropology of Corporations
Jennifer Collier Jennings • 0 Comments
KAREN HO Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities KEYNOTE ADDRESS Karen Ho is Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Her research centers on understanding and analyzing the culture of finance and financial institutions, its impact on corporate America as well as on broader norms of work, employment, and insecurity. Her widely acclaimed book Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street—based on three years of fieldwork among investment bankers and major financial institutions—punctures many of the assumptions about how markets work” (Times Literary Supplement). Read more about Karen, her research on Wall Street and the culture of risk, and what anthropology contributes to our understanding of finance....
A Case for Ethnography in the Study of Corporate Competencies
Susan Faulkner • 1 Comment
CHRISTIAN MADSBJERG, MIKKEL KRENCHEL, MORGAN RAMSEY-ELLIOT and GITTE HESSELHOLT In business thinking, ‘core competencies’ have long been seen as the critical factor that distinguishes great from good. Great companies have strong core competencies that they constantly leverage and develop. On the other hand, companies who do not understand their own strengths and weaknesses cannot execute at the highest proficiency. Their growth initiatives fail, not because they lack commercial potential, but because they fail to apply the same due diligence to their competencies they so naturally apply to their finances. Understanding competencies entails understanding culture, and few companies know how to approach this topic beyond the gut feel analyses of executives or the rare employee survey. In this paper, we use a large-scale study for the medico company Coloplast as a case for how to use ethnography to rigorously study competencies and leverage growth. We show how understanding the effects of culture and competence on market performance...