Creativity in business (Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)

Location 101a
Date and Start Time 18 May, 2014 at 10:30


Keiko Yamaki (Shujitsu University) email
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Short Abstract

We talk about "creativity" when something both new and valuable is produced —new tools, ideas, art, play, new forms of social relationship and communication. In this panel, we focus specifically on creativity in business and what anthropology has to say about it.

Long Abstract

For this panel, our theme is "creativity in business." Creativity, we are told, has driven human progress and is making our lives richer. But what, as anthropologists, do we have to say about that? Our panelists will focus on a variety of topics. Prof. Yoshiko Nakano and Dr. Maria Yotoba will discuss creativity in product development in an age of globalization. Professor Yasunobu Ito will introduce ethnography as a business tool for creativity and innovation. Dr. John McCreery will present recent work on the social networks of top advertising creatives in Japan, and Prof. Keiko Yamaki and Ph.D. candidate Takae Tanaka will present their research on creativity in services. The shared focus in all of these papers will be on how business pursues creativity and on anthropology's role as both participant and critic in this process.

Discussant: Prof. Hirochika Nakamaki

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Towards an anthropology of service

Author: Keiko Yamaki (Shujitsu University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines the meaning of service acts and phenomena focusing on "co-creation of value" in the service industry with rethinking Tadao Umesao's information industry theory.

Long Abstract

British economist Colin G. Clark classified the industry in three sectors in 1940s and the service came to be recognized for independent industry as the tertiary sector. Economists and management scholars have explained service as an economic phenomenon in the monetary market. On the other hand, Anthropologists consider service as one of the oldest human living activities. In the 20th century, the ratio of service sector had been increased. In the developed country, workers in the service industries exceeds 70% of workforce. The concrete service business and work contents have been changed, for example, IT, communication and energy are new service. Service business has been diversified in such hospitality industry, industrial design, regional promotion, education, the medical care etc. Furthermore, the complexity of service in the primary sector is also significant, by such product branding, logistics, etc. For such a social change, the concept of values of a market and consumers changed. Service theory by economist and business administration is not sufficient anymore to explain today's service economy. Engineering, information science, chemistry came to participate in a service study. Anthropology is utilized as methodology of the research in marketing for the value creation via innovation. However, there is not yet the academic definition of the service. This paper focuses on the study of value called service over human mutual relations. This may be taking a step towards an anthropology of service.

Using participatory visual ethnography for creative product design: a case study of the teenage education sector in China

Author: Adel Andalibi (Beijing Cognitive and Sensory Ethnography Lab)  email

Short Abstract

Methods and apparatus of participatory visual ethnography for product design will be discussed, and a case of educational product design will be reviewed.

Long Abstract

I will discuss the current practice of participatory visual ethnography and the contributions that this approach can make to the field of business anthropology in general. Then I will focus on how the rich narrative data collected by participatory visual research can be used for drafting and crafting innovative ideas in the process of design thinking and product development as well as in the process of business strategy. Then a case study will be reviewed where I use participatory visual research tools in a private educational institute in Changzhou city of china to collect middle school students' narratives about their daily experience as a student. Finally I will discuss the apparatus to use these narratives in designing a different educational experience.

The rise of Bulgarian yogurt as a health food: creating values in food business

Author: Maria Yotova (National Museum of Ethnology)  email

Short Abstract

Both in Bulgaria and in Japan, yogurt is accepted as a health food of special importance for people's daily diets. With its 30% share of the plain yogurt market, MEIJI is the biggest producer of yogurt in Japan. What lies behind this company's success and how has yogurt risen as a health food?

Long Abstract

The aim of this paper is to reveal how the Bulgarian traditional type of yogurt, through its transformation into the Japanese top brand "Meiji Bulgaria Yogurt", has created new meanings and values for consumers both in Bulgaria and in Japan. The case of Bulgarian yogurt comes to show how companies transform foodstuffs into culturally meaningful products as a result of which they do not just make profitable commodities of them. They "educate" the consumers and offer new lifestyles; they change established foodways and influence people's perceptions of their daily food.

It is not only companies, however, that participate actively in this process of value creation. Researchers and nutrition specialists, policy makers, journalists and NGO activists play an equally important role in the production and management of information about food in modern society.

In this paper, I explore the main factors that have contributed to the rise of Bulgarian yogurt as a health food. Drawing attention to the relationships and complex interactions between various actors and their participation in public discourses, I am trying to better understand the process through which a basic foodstuff such as yogurt turns into a branded commodity to which people attach special meanings and values.

Study of consumer practices of ethnicities as a tool for creativity in business

Author: Sergey Rychkov (Kazan National Research Technological University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the study of ethnic consumer practices as a creative tool for business. Themes of approaches to the research of consumer behavior in a multi-ethnic region, response to activity of the firms are considered. (With financial support of RFH, project № 12-01-00018).

Long Abstract

It is important for business entity to use any factor of its success in an increasingly competitive. Ethnic characteristics of consumer behavior - one of these factors. Creativity allows to transform these features in research results, which are converted into specific market actions.

The report summarizes the various conceptual and methodological approaches to the problem of consumer behavior of ethnicities in multi-ethnic region, motives and factors that determine it. When choosing a methodological base and technical tools, as well as in the formation of conclusions, an interdisciplinary approach ensuring achievement of research synergies is applied. Methods of data base collecting is interrogations, content analysis of sites of commercial firms, narrative interviews.

The results of studies of consumer response of ethnicities to marketing activities of firms are presented. So ethnic features to respond to low-quality goods, low level of service, lack of goods on sale are defined. The results of analysis assortment of firms identified in the context of ethnic and cultural features of consumer behavior are offered.

Problems of communications in the marketing space take a special place in the report. Interactions between sellers and consumers are considered in the focus "marketing operations" - "consumer reaction". Best creative acts of business lead to the achievement of corporate objectives in many segments of the consumer market of multi-ethnic region. (With financial support of RFH, project № 12-01-00018).

Presenting Japan to the world: kimono-clad women in early airline advertising

Author: Yoshiko Nakano (University of Hong Kong)  email

Short Abstract

The paper considers the image of “Japan” portrayed in early advertisements devised by Japan Airlines in an effort to promote services to Japan from its first two international destinations – the US and Hong Kong.

Long Abstract

The paper considers the image of "Japan" portrayed in early advertisements devised by Japan Airlines in an effort to promote services to Japan from its first two international destinations - the US and Hong Kong.

Geisha girls typically feature in Orientalist representations of Japan. Images of the geisha entered popular imagination in the US after World War II, when the Allied Occupation of Japan brought in American military personnel to Japan, and was then magnified by Hollywood movies in the 1950s.

In 1953, the newly established JAL was faced with the pressing issue of how to present and represent Japan in overseas advertising. JAL initially considered both futuristic and traditional symbols but ultimately followed the suggestions of American advertising agents, and decided to rely heavily on images of Japanese "air hostesses" in kimonos. The reason for this was that American men, whose romanticized vision of Japan often included geisha girls from the main cities' pleasure districts, were JAL's most frequent customers. The introduction of the kimono as a uniform was also a branding exercise aimed at distinguishing JAL from its competitors, Pan American Airlines and Northwest Orient, who both benefited from access to a substantial PR budget.

The Orientalist approach was applied to the Hong Kong market when JAL extended its service to the territory in 1955. Based on over 400 instances of JAL advertisements published between 1953 and 1970, and oral history interviews, I will examine how Orientalist images of Japan were negotiated across the Pacific.

Anthropological methods for creativity and innovation: observing ethnographic researches used in the context of industry in Japan

Author: Yasunobu Ito (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST))  email

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.

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.

Conditions of creativity

Author: John McCreery (The Word Works, Ltd.)  email

Short Abstract

Creative people are not God. We do not create ex nihilo. This paper examines the conditions under which creativity is practiced in the Japanese advertising industry.

Long Abstract

The advertising industry is all about creativity. Nothing is more damning than to say of a proposal, “It has already been done.” But the creativity demanded does not occur in a vacuum. This paper examines five sets of conditions that affect creativity: the individual creator, the teams in which they participate, client-agency relationships, changing economic conditions, and changing media. The approach combines historical and ethnographic research with social network analysis, and the paper focuses primarily on the period 1981-2006 covered in the author’s on-going research on the social networks of award-winning Japanese advertising creatives.

Toward an anthropology of worth

Author: Brian Moeran (Copenhagen Business School)  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines the formation of creative worlds around particular creative products, the different affordances that influence creative processes, and the different values that people bring to bear in their valuation and evaluations thereof.

Long Abstract

This paper examines (1) the formation of creative worlds around particular creative products - advertising worlds, for example, or ceramic art worlds, or fashion worlds - and the differences (some greater, some lesser) among them in the organization of creativity; (2) the different values that people in these creative worlds bring to bear during the course of their creative engagements with products, as well as with one another, and their resulting assessments of worth; and (3) the different affordances (usually, but not necessarily, in the form of constraints) that they face when thinking on 'the edge of the box': the materials, aesthetic ideals, genres, situational contexts, personal networks, organizational structures, and budgetary demands that together influence how different people engage in creative processes and what they come up with as a result.

Because all of these values and affordances are embedded in one another in any creative world - at times one, at times another, singly or in different combinations, illuminating the whole - the social, cultural, economic and technical may be seen as constituting an 'assemblage' ⎼ ideally, because of the collaborative nature of creative work, an ensemblage ⎼ which frames and embodies what is, and is not, recognized as 'creativity'. It is because such ensemblages are made up of evaluations, values, and valuation, as well as group formations of one sort or another and the objects which act upon them, that we may regard business anthropology as an anthropology of worth.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.