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Media, Mediation and the Curatorial Value of Professional Anthropologists

MICHAEL G. POWELL Shook Kelley This paper seeks to broaden the discipline of professional anthropology by considering the role of the anthropologist as a curator and a guide for the mediation of cultural symbols, artifacts and products in and among the organizations we work for or with. It employs two case studies of product curation activities, guided by strategic insights shaped in part by a professional cultural anthropologist. The paper builds on prior discussions and insights within the EPIC community to suggest potential new directions for professional anthropologists to pursue, alongside and/or outside of ethnographic research projects....

Plus Size Fashion: What Happens when Stereotypes, Fueled by Popular Culture, Creep into a Retailer’s Business Decisions?

MEG KINNEY Bad Babysitter HAL PHILLIPS Bad Babysitter Case Study—This case demonstrates the power of video as a data collection tool and a storytelling approach to the presentation of research findings. Fresh Produce Clothing specifically selected Bad Babysitter as a consulting partner for their expertise in video-based ethnography and narrative style of delivery. The case begins with contextualizing a business with an imperative to evolve and an organizational culture that was not aligned. The locus of the debate was the Plus Sized shopper – a consumer segment that put interpretation of hard data by headquarters at odds with impassioned anecdotal inputs from the field. Video offered a visceral way to get past conjecture and “bring her into the room”. The primary benefit to the brand was the immediacy for translating learning into actionable insights and consensus on the way forward. The revenue impact was dramatic: leadership took a 180-degree turn from phasing the Plus shopper out to investing in her....

Building Bridges between Management and the Workforce

LAURA CIRIA-SUÁREZ A Piece of Pie ROBERT ANDREW BELL A Piece of Pie This paper examines the sales force in a retail setting, considering how Business Anthropology can enlighten managerial practices as a means to defining organisational strategy. Specifically, we look at sales force engagement, motivation and reward – considering how to build bridges in the management-employee relationship and shed light on the sales force culture. We will look at anthropology’s position in relation to key business activities using the service-dominant logic to understand how individual sensemaking and perception of power can influence internal and external relationships in the value creation and realisation process, examining engrained paradigms and using Corporate Ethnography to offer new insights and perceptions on organisational culture, power and hierarchies....

Knee Deep in the Weeds—Getting Your Hands Dirty in a Technology Organization

TIFFANY ROMAINRicoh Innovations CorporationMIKE GRIFFINRicoh Innovations Corporation For many months our organization had us performing “technical grunt work.” Upon reflection, getting deep into our company's technological system put us in the unique position of understanding, at a much finer level of detail, the entire assemblage of people, objects, systems, and organizations that make up the world that this technology is becoming a part of. Our paper recounts how we eventually recognized our engagement in technological grunt work as participant observation and how it enabled us to better contribute to decisions about how the technology should work, present itself to users, and be sold. Further, we reflect on an expanded notion of what constitutes the field and fieldwork in corporate ethnography....

The Para-Ethnographic Trajectories Of Professional Ethnography

by MICHAEL G. POWELL, Shook Kelley Professional anthropologists frequently occupy unique roles, simultaneously inside and outside the organizations we work for or work with. Most of us are already adept at negotiating these roles, but don’t necessarily highlight this skill as something of great value, either to professional ethnography or to the broader intellectual life of anthropology. We should. Our role in the broader field of anthropology often remains marginal and our position—at once inside and outside, betwixt and between—is somewhat precarious and vulnerable (eg, Reddy 2012 touches on this, as do some of her guest bloggers). But it also affords opportunities. Professional anthropologists cross and complicate existing boundaries: collaborating with, debating, struggling with, writing about, negotiating, navigating and translating between different dynamic audiences. Embracing our hybridity is a powerful recognition that our difference is relevant and valuable. I offer here a story of my experience as a professional...