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copyright Christopher Schoenbohm

Many students do not immediately associate an anthropology degree with a career in business. Yet increasingly, anthropologists are being recruited by local and international corporations for their specific skills in cross-cultural communication and their ability to analyse human behaviour, organisational structures, and corporate cultures.

Anthropologists working in business may be involved in market research looking at product design, social trends and intercultural marketing. They may also be involved in analysing consumer behaviour, researching purchasing trends, and identifying cultural responses to advertising. Alternatively, anthropologists can act as organisational consultants, investigating organisational procedures and assessing the performance of workplaces.

Anthropologists can be found working for organisations such as Intel, IBM, General Motors, Hewlett Packard, Saatchi & Saatchi, and a growing number of manufacturing and service companies around the world.

Recommended Resources


In the following film Micheal Walsh explains why companies can benefit from hiring anthropologists and speaks to anthropologist Genevieve Bell about her work at Intel.

In the following film anthropologist Grant McCracken, author of ‘Chief Culture Officer’ explore how companies should employ a Chief Culture Officer to ensure they remain cutting edge.


Doing Anthropology in Consumer Research by: Sunderland, P. and Denny, R. (Left Coast Press, 2007)

Advertising and Anthropology: Ethnographic Practice and Cultural Perspectives by: Waal Malefyt,T. and Morais, R.  (Berg, 2012)

Chief Cultural Officer- How to Create a Living and Breathing Corporation by: McCracken, G. (Basic, 2010)

Getting started in consulting by: Weiss, A. (Wiley, 2013)

Articles – how anthropologists are employed in various business organisations. – an article from the LA Times about a corporate anthropologist’s work.

General – a blog by Robert Guang Tian a business professor with anthropological training – The American Anthropological Assocation’s collection of articles about anthropologists working in business – The EPIC Conference promotes the use of ethnographic investigations and principles in the study of human behavior as they are applied in business settings – Anthropologist Grant McCraken’s blog which explores the intersection between anthropology and economics– for jobs in banking.


See our Anthropology on the Radio webpage for podcasts on business and anthropology.


The following companies have hired anthropologists for market research: Intel, IBM, Motorolla, General Motors, Packard, Saatchi & Saatchi amongst others.

Professional Groups, Organisations and Associations

ESRO– a research-based organisation which employs anthropological/ethnographic research techniques and consult with various privat and public sector business.

The Federation of Small Businesses – is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for information and guidance only. It should not be interpreted as endorsement or otherwise by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) for any external institution listed.  Furthermore, the RAI accepts no responsibility for material created by external parties or the content of external websites.