Ethnographers have approached the modern business corporation (construed as cultural formation) from two directions: () the effects of corporations—on workers, communities, consumers, and the broader environment; and () the inner workings of corporations as small-scale (or even large-scale) societies. Although academically based ethnographic research inside corporations has grown only modestly since the 1980s, the number of anthropologists working for corporations has mushroomed. Coupled with the expansion of research on various corporate effects over the past three decades, this development, we argue, positions the discipline to make intellectual advances in theorizing the corporation (synthesizing the internal social group view with the external effects-producing agentive view), as well as practical contributions not only in monitoring harmful impacts but also in suggesting directions to enhance societal benefits. At the same time, we note that questions of access to corporate inner workings pose both practical and ethical challenges.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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