chapter  5
9 Pages

Contract Ethnography in Corporate Settings: Innovation From Entanglement

ByAnne-Laure Fayard, John Van Maanen, John Weeks

Organizational culture has been a topic of interest for practitioners and academics since anthropologist William Lloyd Warner joined the Harvard Business School study team (headed by Elton Mayo) that engaged in the Hawthorne experiments of the 1920s (Gillespie, 1991; Luthans et al., 2013). Warner was a “hired hand” brought in during the late stages of the project to design and oversee the observations and interviews in the famous (or infamous) Bank Wiring Room of the Hawthorne plant. While Warner’s cultural interpretation of the results of that phase of the study were discounted by Mayo and others directing the project, anthropology and the quasi-ethnographic perspective Warner brought to Hawthorne left a mark on organization studies that persists to this day.1