Organizational Anthropology

Course content

This course introduces graduate students to Organisational Anthropology as a growing field of both applied action research and theory building.

We engage with business and corporate organisation in terms of ethnographic field - and as a social and cultural phenomenon, relevant to anthropological reflection.

In spite of being a relatively recent anthropological specialization, the systematic study of human life inside and between institutions and formal organisations has a long history in other disciplines such as sociology and business management. We browse central concepts and theories from some of these disciplines to put recent contributions from Business & Organizational Anthropology into a broader disciplinary and socio-political context. We also look to historical studies of governance and production to find theoretical and ideologial connections between organisational studies and social anthropology.

The main part of the course introduces anthropological approaches to productive activities as well as formal and informal functions and relations within organisations. 

By reading, presenting and discussing texts by organisational anthropologists and business ethnographers, we draft our own schematic organisational overview of prototypical industrial- and service institutions. 

We do not work with concepts at instrumental, “tool-box level”, but rather at analytical “meta-level” to discuss how anthropology contributes to critical analysis and possible change of product development, work relations and organisational reform. We also discuss inflections of this specialized field back to broader, contemporary anthropological concerns with eg. work markets and global supply chains. 

The course also contains an excursion to a Human Resources Fair in Copenhagen (5 or 6 October 2016).

Learning outcome

In the exam, the student must with clear language and lucidly argumentation exhibit that the he/she is capable of:

• identifying an independent anthropological problem statement relevant to the course's subject matter

• demonstrating factual knowledge of a selected ethnographic field and/or empirical considerations relevant to the course’s subject matter

• demonstrating insight into selected central theoretical concepts relevant to the chosen subject area and course material

• conducting an analysis based on central concepts or themes presented during the course.

Students must also fulfil the Department of Anthropology's form and language requirements (see the curriculum for more about form and language requirements).

A combination of lectures and seminars, plus excursion and supervised exercises

MSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature + 200 pages of literature chosen by students

Literature chosen by students must be relevant to the course’s subject matter.

Course literature will be available via Absalon

The course also serves as a part of the specialised track in Business and Organisational Anthropology.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Length: The portfolio exam can be taken individually or in groups of maximum four students. The portfolio exam consists of 3-7 submissions. The number of submissions is set by the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must not exceed 30,000 keystrokes for a single student. For groups of two students the maximum is 40,000 keystrokes. For groups of three students the maximum is 45,000 keystrokes and for groups of four students the maximum is 50,000 keystrokes.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

See description of learning outcome.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Seminar
  • 4
  • Exercises
  • 6
  • Excursions
  • 4
  • Preparation
  • 88
  • Exam
  • 80
  • English
  • 210