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Twenty years ago, two well-known anthropologists visited Xer

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Anaira Mitch Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts
26 Oct 2016
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Twenty years ago, two well-known anthropologists visited Xer

Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:06 am
Twenty years ago, two well-known anthropologists visited Xerox’s Research Center to study how people were responding to technological changes and perhaps offer some insights into the company’s operations. One of the researchers’ suggestions was to put a green start button on the company’s copiers. Some people consider this simple advice the beginning of corporate anthropology: the application of analytical skills traditionally used to study relatively isolated, tribal societies to understand how corporate employees interact and how consumers consume.

Sid Parkson received his Ph.D. while studying a dwindling society that lived on an Oceanic island with no stores or indoor plumbing. He now works for a software design firm. “Working with various project teams, I am constantly reminded of my fieldwork,” says Parkson. “In even the most rigidly hierarchical society, some individuals will wish to change their status, and this can cause friction-not necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve seen it lead to inferior decision-making, missed deadlines, and soured morale. When the islanders had a problem that threatened a social good, the individuals involved would discuss the issue at a meeting of their leaders-the board of directors, if you will. The higher-ups would say little, but their presence went a long way toward keeping the tone of the debate civilized and focused on the greater good. Follow-up meetings would be held to see whether progress had been made. We’ve implemented a similar structure here, and it’s worked remarkably well, and in the same way.”

On the consumer side, corporate anthropology can help to determine whether a product will be used, and how. Rather than using traditional marketing tools such as focus groups and questionnaires, anthropologists closely observe people going about their lives, and determine how a given product might fit into their culture. As with studies that take place within the corporation, physical behavior, language, and social interactions are carefully analyzed and documented.

Some traditional anthropologists are not comfortable with their colleagues serving business interests. Parkson is aware of this and understands these concerns, but he believes that “my job, though it ultimately contributes to a company’s bottom line, also contributes to the quality of people’s lives. It also provides data on the behavioral patterns of a group of individuals who have something in common, data that are likely to be of interest to others in years to come. That, to me, is the function of anthropology.”

1. Which of the following is the author’s primary purpose for writing the passage?

(A) To present a description of corporate anthropology, and to briefly show how it is used and how it is viewed by others
(B) To define corporate anthropology and show its specific similarities to, and differences with, traditional anthropology
(C) To demonstrate that anthropology can no longer be viewed as relevant only to isolated tribes
(D) To offer a detailed analysis of the ways in which corporate anthropology fits within the general description of anthropology
(E) To make the case that corporate anthropology can be just as useful as traditional anthropology

2. Which of the following does Sid Parkson claim is common to corporate societies and the lives of the islanders he studied?

(A) People resent being part of a rigid hierarchical system.
(B) Morale can be adversely affected by poor decisions.
(C) Individual members of the societies were sensitive to how their actions affected the common good.
(D) People behave differently when they know that they are being observed by people of higher status.
(E) Follow-up meetings to discuss frictions between group members are effective as long as the higher-ups did not take part.

3. According to the passage, which of the following scenarios is LEAST likely to be administered by a corporate anthropologist?

(A) The recordings from a retail store’s security camera are analyzed to determine how long people browse before selecting an item.
(B) A list is compiled that shows the different ways that employees speak about a new product among themselves and to others.
(C) Teenagers are brought together and their opinions are solicited regarding the desirability of a new portable music player.
(D) A consultant is hired to observe the manner in which executives at a firm choose to recognize the comments made by employees at business meetings.
(E) A field trip is arranged so that the managers of a day care center can see how a group of Native Americans handle shared care of children.

4. Which of the following is mentioned in the passage as a reason for considering the legitimacy of corporate anthropology?

(A) There are not enough jobs available for anthropologists who wish to work in academia.
(B) It can be useful to businesses that wish to improve their profitability.
(C) It is a way for executives to better understand what motivates their employees.
(D) Tribal societies can benefit from insights that anthropologists gain from studying corporate cultures.
(E) It allows people a look at how businesses in the past were structured.

Please share your insight on above RC. I find it difficult to interpret.

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Post Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:44 am
Please re-post with separate threads for each question (otherwise it gets too convoluted), and with your source & OA cited (otherwise it's a copyright violation), and I'll be happy to answer.


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