Accepted paper:

"The rising of human-based enterprises in Spain, and the selling of 'intangibles'"


Hugo Valenzuela Garcia (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses the emergence of new post-executive enterprises where the human and social factor are the most valued capital, and discusses whether these “new” type of enterprises are either a challenge or a continuity of the flexible productive system in the Spanish context.

Paper long abstract:

The paper exposes a comparative ethnographic study of newly created Spanish enterprises of so-called "human-base". These enterprises share some distinctive traits: they operate within the "knowledge economy" (design, creative work, services, etc.); most have been founded by challenging, young entrepreneurs with artistic or humanistic international formation; team work tends to be highly flexible, dynamic and multicultural; corporative configurations are horizontal, self-managing and sometimes anarchical; physical space reflects company's idiosyncrasy; human scale is prioritized over company's growth; economic benefits are not the main goal; there's a moral commitment towards the projects and a search for meaningful, non-alienating work, explicit learning and creativity; innovation does not focus only on technology or science, but on people and on social networks, etc. These enterprises are experimenting a great success. Most of them are relatively new (they have appeared during the last five years as a reaction against formal, old-fashioned, rigid corporate structures) and sell "intangibles" (ideas, services design, concepts, methodologies, etc.) and their apparently disorganized, iconoclastic and youth character seems to be the key to success. How new and original are these "human-based" enterprises? How might we explain their sudden and fashionable emergence? What is the anthropological rationale of the successful concept behind them? Is the reinvention of novelty an epiphenomenon of the flexible production? Those are some of the topics my paper would like to pose.

panel PE18
Anthropology of knowledge business (IUAES Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)