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4.5 Conclusion: Toward “Anthropology of Business Administration”

As mentioned earlier, we have to provide new methodological standpoints and create a new cosmology. In our conclusive remarks, we will introduce our new approach for researching management and business administration named “Anthropology of Business Administration.” The aim and history of our research are introduced in other chapters of this book. This chapter describes the methodological characteristics of our research. One of our unique points is the aspect of companies that have two faces as “cultural community” and “instrument of civilization.” We will summarize our research objects and methodology in the following. [1]

In our research:

1. Companies are perceived as not only “functional and rational organizations” but also “irrational communities” related to the whole of human life. Therefore, companies have multiple values.

2. Companies are perceived as not only “economic agents” but also “cultural agents”; they are agents who create new cultures under the preexisting culture.

3. Each company is perceived as an entity with a cosmology that has its own feeling of time and space.

4. The standpoints of our research include various levels of company from presidents to workers and include multiple stakeholders. For this stance, our research group is an interdisciplinary team, including the disciples of anthropology, management, sociology, history, and economics.

In addition, we adopted the following research methods:

1. Putting weight on qualitative research such as participant observation and interview.

2. Putting weight on the method “phenomena–interpretation–induction” rather than “theory–deduction” and/or “hypothesis–verification.”

3. Concerning the description of the phenomena, we do not adopt causal explanation and functional explanation such as a “cause–consequence” relation, but adopt interpretative methods such as “semantic understanding” and/or “story formation.”

4. For recognition of the objects, we put weight not on “reductionism” but “totality.”

Though we will introduce some case studies in later chapters, some implications of our methodology have been shown in this section. [2]. When we investigate Japanese companies, we sometimes observe traditional-style ceremonies, for example, “company funeral,” and sometimes find “sacred spaces,” such as “company shrines.” They are typical symbols of companies as cultural communities. However, these symbols are not just symbols; they have some efficacy in Japanese corporate society. The company funeral is a passion of succession ceremony and the debutante party for the successor. [3]. These ceremonies demonstrate the qualities of an organization, for example, the power of teamwork, social manners, and time and space management. Therefore, such a ceremony is needed to build community within a company, but it also plays a functional role for organizations in the economic society.

In our other example, the company shrine is not only a religious space but also the place for praying for the safety of workers and managers. Therefore, by raising awareness, it is a “risk management” tool. Companies function as both cultural communities and instruments of civilization.

The methodology of our research has the capability to illuminate the ambiguity between such concepts as rational and irrational, functional and nonfunctional, and traditional and modern. In addition, it seems to be a first step for creating a new cosmology of clinical and scientific knowledge.

  • [1] See Mitsui (ed) (2013).
  • [2] Some key works of our research are as follows: Nakamaki H and Hioki K (eds) (1997), Nakamaki H (ed) (1999), Nakamaki H and Hioki K (eds) (2003), and Nakamaki H and Hioki K (eds) (2013)
  • [3] See Mitsui et al. (1999)
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