Jul 14, 2005

Anthropologists in the corporate jungle

Rashmi Sinha quotes an article in Fortune magazine that says organizations are hiring anthropologists to understand new markets.

I agree that often insights into either employees (if you are a manager) or customers (if you are in sales and marketing) cannot be gleaned always by the questionnaire method or focus groups. There is a huge bias induced when you ask people something. And specially its about goods and services that they have not experienced before. As Rashmi says:

Given that a lot of what we do is help companies understand how their customers think - Cognitive Anthropology is particularly relevant. The premise behind Cognitive Anthropology is that culture and cognition are inseparable - if you want to understand actions, objects, relationships in a culture, you need to understand people's cognition, their mental models. While Cognitive Psychology is individual oriented, Cognitive Anthropology methods lend themselves well to understanding the culture itself, even while studying the individual.