Recently I have been thinking about how to apply my anthropology knowledge and ethnographer skills to work in organizations. Through the multiple experts, consultants and applied social scientists I met, there seem to be two different visions of the « applied social sciences expert ». On the one hand, there is the traditional consultant who comes with solutions based on his or her specific knowledge; this is the vision we often find in management consulting. On the other hand, there is a less mundane vision of expertise which is based on shared experience, learning and where the solutions are co-created by both parties. I think this vision has something to do with an hermeneutic epistemology and I will try to show that anthropology has the needed skills to act as a co-creation agent.
An ecosystem metaphor is often used to describe an industry as a whole, like a cluster, but having a more “lively” aspect. Montreal’s videogame industry promoters I met while doing my master thesis used the expression to describe the industry’s nature nowadays. It carries a strong living aspect as all parts make a whole organism, appearing to be one of the most valued industry in Montreal. However, as I argued in my master thesis: «We should not limit the ecosystem metaphor to its vivacity; ecosystem can easily be unbalanced and even destroyed by an external change.» (Pineault, 2014: 69) Anthropology’s Functionalists made an extensive use of the organic analogy in their attempts to explain culture and critics have showed its limit. In this short article, I would like to explain why we must be cautious about using the ecosystem to describe an industrial or creative cluster.
Using the interview as a data gathering tool seemed to be an easy thing to do until I did my fieldwork. Manuals say that you must define what kind of interview you want to do and how to adapt: you need to be prepared (so your questions will directly relate to your problematic), be a good listener, and avoid inducing answers from your informants. When it comes to ethnographical interviews, boundaries are blurred since you try to break the artificial position that normally emerges when you conduct a discussion within a sterile context.