Anthropological methods for creativity and innovation: observing ethnographic researches used in the context of industry in Japan
Yasunobu Ito (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST))
Paper short abstract:
This presentation is about observations on the ways in which anthropological methods are appropriated by other realms (i.e. business and industry), and the results which emerge from such appropriations. Through this, I aim to open up some inquiries on the meaning of this phenomenon for anthropology.
Paper long abstract:
This presentation observes the ways in which the methodologies of academic research are appropriated by other realms (i.e. business and industry) and the results which emerge from such appropriations. Beginning from the early 1990s in the US and other European countries, anthropology has come to be recognised as a commercially consumable discipline. Although this is not a new trend, globally speaking, it is only during the last few years that it has come into fashion among firms in Japan. In recent years, it has been observed that products do not sell well even if they feature technological advances, and it has thus become necessary to prioritise consumer experiences. To cope with this trend, there has been a shift in marketing strategy that involves searching for unconscious behaviors and predicting the potential needs of consumers (often called "insight") that cannot be grasped through traditional marketing methods such as survey with questionnaires. The ethnography introduced by companies in their businesses does not look like the academic ethnography that we anthropologists are trained in. In a nutshell, ethnography is standardised and formulated for everyone who wishes to use it as a tool. Ethnography is taken as a tool to be developed for achieving a deeper understanding of consumer behavior, and producing innovation and creativity in industry. With this in mind, I hope to open up some inquiries on the meaning of this phenomenon for (the future of) anthropology.
Creativity in business (Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)