The Cultures of Business

The Cultures of Business
Daniel Everett
Office Phone: x-2118
308 Morison
E-mail: [email protected]
Office Hours: T/TH 10-12; Or by
Class Meeting Day & Time:
Tuesday 630-9pm
Class Location: AAC 143
Blackboard Site:
Course Description
This course examines how values and valuation arise in human societies. From the
foundational beliefs and practices of specific cultures it proceeds to look in depth at how
cultures of business arise and how they influence one another and the societies in which the
businesses operate. An initial introduction to the science of cultural explanation is followed
by an anthropological discussion of stocks, commodities, and derivatives. The course
develops and expounds concepts to enable the participants to analyze and apply their
knowledge of companies as outputs of societies.
Course Prerequisites: None.
Course Goals
The purpose of this class is to teach students how to understand the connections
between cultural values and business values of specific societies.
Student Learning Objectives
Students should be able to understand the difference between society and culture and
how the latter is formed both diachronically and synchronically by the formation and
transmission of values. Students should also be able to more effectively analyze and
understand the practices and values of specific businesses not only from a cultural
perspective but in terms of the ways that these values impact business operations and
their effects in societies.
Course materials
Everett, Daniel L. 2013. Language: The Cultural Tool. Vintage.
*Harris, Marvin. 1974. Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of
Culture. Vintage Books.
Harris, Marvin. 1981. Why Nothing Works: The Anthropology of Daily Life.
Touchstone Books.
*LiPuma, Edward and Benjamin Lee. 2004. Financial Derivatives and
the Globalization of Risk. Duke University Press.
Trompenaars, Fons and Charles Hampden-Turner. 1998. Riding the
Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business. McGraw-Hill.
*Zelizer, Viviana A. 2011. Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the
Economy. Princeton University Press.
*Ho, Karen. 2009. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Duke
University Press.
*= Required text. All others are suggested, but not required.
Other readings
Assignments and grading
Class presentations and participation:
I expect students to not only question in class, but I will
regularly call on individual students at the beginning of class to summarize
the reading for the class in 10 minutes.
The midterm exam will cover all of the material from lectures
(reading supplements lectures and students are responsible mainly for
what we discuss in class) from the first class to the class prior to the
Topic selection, research sources, and methodology:
Tentative essay topics will be due by the fourth class. The
instructor will provide feedback and help the students to sharpen their
focus and coverage and to identify sources. The ideal essay will be based
on student interviews and/or field research, though this is not required.
The essay is the crucial component of the evaluation, with
60% of the grade dependent on the clarity and sophistication of the
argumentation and reasoning of the writing. The body of the essay should
be at least 15pp, double-spaced, Times Roman 11 or 12 pt font, roughly
3700 words). The essay will be due during the final exam week and
students are expected to meet with the instructor that week in class to
discuss their essays, after they have handed them in.
Expectations about class attendance, etiquette, participation
Regular attendance is expected. Students are further expected to
question, argue, and dialog with the instructor during the class period.
Statement about academic integrity
This class will be conducted in full accordance with Bentley’s policies about academic
integrity and the Bentley Honor Code. These can be found at:
The Bentley Beliefs
This class will be conducted in full accordance with The Bentley Beliefs. Please reread
the Beliefs, which can be found at
Learning Disabilities
If you have a hidden or visible disability which may require classroom or exam
accommodations, please see me as soon as possible. If you have not already done so,
please register with Chip Kennedy, Coordinator of Disability Services in LaCava 166,
who is responsible for coordinating accommodations and services for students with
disabilities. I will make every effort to accommodate students with documented learning
disabilities, as long as you inform me of your needs ahead of time. For further
information on documenting a learning disability, please go to
Specific course policies
All assignments are due, without exception, at the time indicated, without prior approval
from the professor.
Tentative Course Schedule
January 21, 2014
Introduction to Culture: Culture explains the
apparently irrational
Req: Harris, ppv-35; Ho 1-39
January 28
Introduction to Culture: War
February 04
February 11
Potlatch and the Demonstration of Wealth
February 18
February 25
MIDTERM EXAM; Magic and Action at a
March 04
The Social Structure of Money
(March 8-16
Spring Break - No Class)
March 11
How we talk about things: Culture and
March 18
Corporate Cultures
March 25
Global Flows
Req: LL 1-33; Ho 249-295
April 01
Req: LL 33-85
April 08
The Ethnology of Derivatives
Req: LL 85-141
April 15
Risk and Political Stability
Req: LL 141-190; Ho 295-end
April 22
Insurance and Human Value(s)
Req: Z 1-72
April 29
What have we learned? What is there yet to
learn? Review and discussion
April 30-May 8
May 17
Suggested: Tromp. 1-19
Req: Harris 35-83;
Sug:: Tromp. 20-51
Req: H 83-111
Sug:T 51-83
Req: H 111-155
Sug: T 83-121
Req: H 155-207
Sug: T 121-161
Req: Harris 1981 Chapter
Four; Z 89-164; Ho 73-122
Req: Everett Chapter 10; Ho
Req: Ho 169-213
Sug: Tromp. 161-217