Concentration in Business and Organizational Anthropology

Master of arts in anthropology

Business and organizational anthropology applies the theories and methods of the discipline to the problem-solving activity in organizations in both private and public sectors. Recent research efforts in business and organizational anthropology are concentrated in three broad areas: marketing and consumer behavior, organizational theory and culture, and global business (especially international marketing, intercultural management, and intercultural communication).

Wayne State University's anthropology department is the oldest business and organizational anthropology program in the U.S. and is the only institution offering both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology with a specialization in business and organizational anthropology. With rigorous training in anthropological theories and research methods, many of our graduates serve as analysts, researchers, and academics with strong analytical skills who can manage, evaluate, and interpret the large volume of data on human behavior. Detroit's large industrial base and its revitalization movement with numerous innovative entrepreneurial activities as well as grassroots initiatives make WSU's anthropology program an exciting place to explore and pursue an increasingly demanding field of expertise in the globalization era.

Program goals

  • Prepare students for careers in business, industry, government, and public and private sectors with a focus on the cultural dimensions of complex organizations
  • Provide students with strong theoretical, methodological and ethical foundations to tackle current issues in work practices, occupational communities, consumer behavior, and multinational organizations in the global business context
  • Equip students to be able to explain human behavior in modern organizations and the industrial (large-scale production) domain with a dynamic, systemic, structural processual perspective

View concentration requirements

Career and job prospects for business anthropology students

Graduates can specialize in career fields such as:

  • Organizational ethnography (understanding formal and informal structures and processes, resolving internal conflict, assessing policy or process effects, implementing programs)
  • Marketing research (product design, social trends, intercultural marketing)
  • Consumer behavior (responses to advertising, purchasing trends, product use)

Business and organizational anthropologists work inside some of the leading manufacturing and service companies in the world, including Accenture, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Hewlett Packard, Motorola, Nissan, Procter & Gamble, Xerox, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, and J. Walter Thompson.

These firms have discovered that anthropology brings a unique understanding of human and cultural issues to their enterprises at home and abroad. Anthropologists help companies design products and organizational processes that incorporate an understanding of consumers, employees, and external communities. At the same time, anthropologists are discovering that the doors of business and industry open onto many exciting field sites and important research questions and that the anthropological perspective can make a significant contribution to corporate social responsibility and ethics.

Courses offered by business and organizational anthropology faculty

Students should refer to the Graduate Bulletin for corresponding ANT course numbers.

  • Anthropology of Business
  • Anthropological Perspectives on Business: History and Theory
  • Technology and Culture
  • Shop 'Til You Drop: Consumer Culture and Society
  • Globalization
  • Economy and Culture


Our department actively participates in research in business sustainability, corporate culture, corporate social responsibility, design anthropology, food industry, globalization and consumption, global/international business, mobility, technology and culture, and transportation safety.

Learn more about our research in business and organizational anthropology