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Accepted Paper:

Anthropology: An Entrepreneurial Discipline  

Author:

Lora Koycheva (Technical University of Munich)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the affinities of the production of anthropological knowledge with the practices fundamental to entrepreneurship. I focus on three characteristics that both venturing and anthropology share: failure, pivots, and uncertainty.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, I trace the affinities of the production of anthropological knowledge with the practices fundamental to entrepreneurship. Specifically, I focus on three characteristics that both venturing and anthropology share: failure, pivots, and uncertainty as a milieu which must be embraced, navigated, and captured in the production of value on behalf of others. In the first part of the paper, I examine how each of these domains have been conceptualized in the literature in both anthropology and entrepreneurship. As an illustrative, but not exclusive example, drawing on my experience as an anthropologist coaching startup teams, the paper discusses these points through the lens of social venturing. It focuses on current calls in entrepreneurship to use starting up as a way to tackle societal Grand Challenges and to use them as a framework for venture creation. Because there is virtually no formal cross-pollination between anthropology and social entrepreneurship until now, the paper addresses specific areas in which ethnographic expertise is especially relevant and applicable. It also explores how in turn anthropologists can further experiment with the form and the potentials of ethnography via venturing. The second part of the paper therefore zooms out to address the applied - and applicable but yet underexplored - potentials for a better rapprochement between business anthropology and entrepreneurship as two distinct fields; how anthropological thinking can lend itself to entrepreneurship - both as a field of applied practice and as a field of research - and what business anthropology can learn from entrepreneurs.

Panel P012
Applying anthropology across disciplinary, professional and territorial borders: practical and engaging case studies [Applied Anthropology Network]