Professor Melissa S. Fisher’s inaugural lecture: Time and Space in Business and Organizational Anthropology – Københavns Universitet

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Professor Melissa S. Fisher’s inaugural lecture: Time and Space in Business and Organizational Anthropology

Melissa S. Fisher
The Laurits Andersen Professorship with Special Responsibilities in Business and Organizational Anthropology

Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen

Friday 24 November 2017, 2.30 PM in auditorium 1.
University of Copenhagen, Gothersgade 140 , 1353 Copenhagen K

We are at the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution: the rise of knowledge workers who are far more flexible than other types of workers about working from home and becoming more mobile. These knowledge workers (Wall Street executives; Hollywood producers; and service professionals) are all changing the timing and spacing of work. At the same time, broader cultural-economic and demographic changes, are taking place: the globalization of firms; the rise of women leaders in business; and attempts by companies to navigate these and others trends that will affect changes in the future of work, workers and the workplace in Denmark and beyond.

In this lecture, I argue that anthropology has a critical role to play in contemporary debates about the emerging temporal and geographical dimensions of business and the workplace. Based on my research, I will show that Denmark and the United States are important sites for understanding some of the leading edge changes. Specifically, drawing on my historical research and fieldwork on Wall Street women (1950s-2014), Hollywood film making (2014-2016) and contemporary fieldwork on global foresight on the future of business at the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies, and its corporate partners headquartered in Denmark, I introduce a set of innovative theories and research methods to tackle this emergent field. Historically, business and organizational anthropology has had relatively little to say about temporality (past and future) and spatiality (scale and built form) in relation to the contemporary and future workplace and its workers. As a result much of this scholarship has been done by historians, sociologists, architects, futurists and others. This lecture serves as a call for more theoretical and engaged business and organizational anthropologies, with anthropologists in Denmark and elsewhere working with business and organizations to lead the way forward.

After the inaugural lecture the Department of Anthropology will host a reception in building 33 at UCPH Campus, Øster Farimagsgade 5, room 33.1.19.