AAA Annual Meeting Program

AAA Annual Meeting Program Details

Session Information:
This session may be of particular interest to:  Practicing and Applied Anthropologists   
Program Number: 1-0150
Type: Session
Session Sponsor: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology
Session Date/Time: Wed., 12:00 PM-1:45 PM
Organizer(s): KENNETH PRICE, JOERG SCHMITZ (Princeton Global Learning Institute) 
12:15 PM: JOERG SCHMITZ (Princeton Global Learning Institute) -- Building Culturally Agile Leaders: The Use, Mis-Use, and Challenge of Culture in Organizational/Corporate Transformations  
12:30 PM: ELIZABETH BRIODY (Cultural Keys LLC), ROBERT TROTTER (Northern Arizona University), TRACY MEERWARTH (General Motors Corporation) -- Transforming an American Icon: Culture and Cultural Change at General Motors  
12:45 PM: ANULEKHA ROY SENGUPTA -- The Effect of Culture on Fair Process  
1:00 PM: CHERYL WILLIAMS (Concordia University Irvine) -- The Corporate Anthropologist: At Work in a Hollywood Entertainment Studio  
1:45 PM: End of Session
Abstract: As global organizations increasingly face the challenges of continual change brought about by re-structuring, re-organization, mergers, acquisitions, joint venture and off-shore partnering, the need to address organizational culture with a proactive plan and approach is also growing in importance and urgency. While many leaders and consultants recognize a new-found significance to the role of culture in establishing and sustaining high levels of performance in their organizations, few are clear about the steps one could take to shift the culture to better respond to the constantly changing global business environment. In often furious attempts to understand organizational dynamics and the various interactions and engagements of its members, many would-be leaders of cultural transformation miss critical cues and opportunities to effect positive change. The papers in this session argue that ethnographic practice can and often should inform decisions intended to “optimize” an organizational or team culture for increased integrity and performance. Both as a consultative process designed and enacted by ethnographers and as a leadership skill set that can be learned by organizational leaders, ethnographic approaches hold the potential for unlocking previously hidden reservoirs of discretionary effort in both individuals and teams. Grounded in current experiences working with large and medium-sized organizations, the panelists in this session punctuate their observations with real-life examples fresh from “the field.” Each of the panelists have personally observed and participated in the rapidly evolving move by businesses to recognize the contributions of social scientific perspectives, particularly throughout seemingly endless periods of organizational transformation. In a world of shifting business conditions, organizational culture will change whether or not leaders play a direct role in that change. Business strategy, market competitiveness, ethics and engagement are both reflections and results of that organization’s culture. Bringing ethnographic tools and lenses to bear upon the challenges inherent to operating and sustaining organizations can support leaders and consultants to nudge their communities toward increased inclusiveness, collaboration, connectivity and market performance.


If you have any questions about the program, please contact the AAA Meetings Department at