Redefining Organizational Cultures: An Interpretative Anthropological Approach to Corporate Narratives

Jasmin Mahadevan


Hardly any management theory nowadays fails to take culture's influence on today's organizations into account. At the very foundation lies the belief that the intercultural boundary can be determined externally—by etic view. In my paper I show how much emic organizational reality differs from etic view. Hereby, I refer to two years of fieldwork that I conducted in a global high-tech company at sites in Germany, Austria and India. I choose this approach to trace culture as an open process of sense-making in practice. Through interpretative anthropological means, I identified several discourses of collective identity that were constructed narratively—often regardless of the presumed etic border of "Germans" vs. "Indians." In summary, this paper makes the following contributions: Firstly, it shows how emic and etic categorizations of the cultural other can differ in a complex environment. Secondly, it looks in depth into the emic categorizations of "the Other" and how they are constructed narratively. Thirdly, it draws conclusions for the field of intercultural communication.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0901440


organizational anthropology; ethnography; narratives; intercultural communication

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Copyright (c) 2009 Jasmin Mahadevan

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