What is Business Anthropology?

Business Anthropology is one of the latest ways that anthropology has asserted itself on the global stage. Business anthropologists contribute to economic development worldwide, provide direction for better run organizations, and help companies improve their understanding of consumers, leading to product innovations and brand communications that are responsive to bona fide consumer needs and wants. Business anthropologists typically work with or within public, private, and non-profit organizations.


On an educational level, business anthropology scholars contribute to an understanding of culture and commerce. Business anthropology teaches students in anthropology departments and business schools about the culture of work, ethics, and exchange, including the values of and respect for actors on a global scale, advancing cross-cultural understanding.


Businesses are drawn especially to anthropology’s principal research method, ethnography, because it enables firms to understand their customers, partners, suppliers, and their own organizations better. Major corporations such as Google, Intel, and IBM recognize the contributions of staff anthropologists; companies like Procter & Gamble, Campbell Soup, Nissan, Mars, and Coca Cola, among others, hire anthropologists as consultants; numerous advertising agencies and design firms employ anthropologists; and many marketing research firms specialize in business anthropology. Business opportunities for recent graduates and others with an anthropological sensibility and toolkit have never been better.