Business in Cultural Context
Location: SB 103 Time: Tues 6:00-8:50 pm
Instructor: Dr. Chris Holdsworth TA: TBA
email: [email protected]
Office: ES 710B Office
Office Hours: Tues. 4:45-5:45 pm Office Hours:
or by appointment. 220 3665 or by appointment
The focus of this course is the influence culture has on business. Companies
possess unique sets of values, customs, traditions and meanings. Such
“corporate cultures” embody not only the vision of the company but also influence
its ethical standards and managerial practices. Companies, to be successful,
must also understand their consumers and their needs within specific cultural
contexts. Globalization and immigration have meant that most Canadian
corporations are not only increasingly engaged in multinational trade and
negotiation, but also have an increasingly ethnically diverse workforce.
The course begins by exploring the challenges businesses face and a general
understanding of the anthropological concept of culture. After a brief history of
the relationship between anthropology and business we look at how
anthropological methods can be used to conduct fieldwork in organizations as
well as understand consumers and design new products. This is followed by
exploring the role of culture in organizations and how organizations can use this
knowledge to advantage. We then look at the role culture plays in consumer
decision making, and how current cultural trends impact the future of business.
The course concludes with an exploration of the implications of conducting
business in different cultural contexts as well dealing with a multicultural
1. To acquire an appreciation of how the theory and methods of anthropology
can be used to understand how an organization’s culture influences the
conduct of business.
2. To appreciate how an understanding the cultural context in which a
corporation operates can improve its marketing efforts.
3. To gain an understanding of how the theory and insights of anthropology can
positively influence the conduct of international business.
4. To develop critical thinking and writing skills through discussing issues in
1 1. Ferraro, Gary, and Elizabeth Briody 2013. The Cultural Dimension of Global
Business (7th edition) Prentice Hall. ISBN-13: 978-0-205-83559-1
2. Jordan, Ann: 2013. Business Anthropology (2 Ed). Waveland Press. ISBN-
3. Links to additional readings will be made available through Blackboard
This course will follow an interactive lecture-discussion style format accompanied
by experiential exercises, case studies and the occasional film or video. Class
discussions and lectures will not repeat or cover all the material in the texts but
will elaborate on selected topics to provide a deeper understanding of the
material. Assigned textbook readings may be augmented with suggested
additional readings and handouts.
All course materials and information, as well as unofficial grades, will be posted
on the U of C Blackboard.
In any email correspondence please begin with the course code (anth303) in the
subject line along with the subject of your message. Most of the time, you can
expect a reply to an email within 24 hours. Please do NOT expect and immediate
reply. You should also know that I will only rarely reply to emails on the
weekends. Also I will not reply to emails that are not signed at least with your first
Cell Phone and Laptop/Tablet Policy
Cell phones must be turned off during the class except when in use for Top Hat
Monocle (see below). Laptops and tablets should be used only for taking notes.
Since the screens can be distracting to students sitting behind, if you wish to use
your laptop or tablet please sit toward the back of the class.
• Students are required to set up a Top Hat (TH) account. TH will be used to
assess participation and comprehension which are grade components (see
below) for the course. The university has a site license for the application and
accounts can be set up at https://app.tophat.com/register/student/
• The TH URL for the course is: https://app-ca.tophat.com/e/802876
• The password for the course is: Business
ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION
Students are expected to attend all classes and to contribute to class discussions
based on the assigned readings. Grades will suffer if more than two classes are
• Mid-term exam 1:
• 25% of final grade
• Date: Oct 1
• Mid-term exam 2:
• 25% of final grade
• Date: Oct 29