Presentation at SCOS

My colleague and I have presented our on-going research on ethnographer identity at Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism (SCOS) 2021.

Negotiation of researcher identity within ethnographic fieldwork: A reflexive account of identity work 

This paper looks at the negotiation of identities within ethnographic fieldwork, in relation to how researchers identify themselves, interpret their relationship with the respondents and manage their fluid position within the field. It explores the changes of self researchers can undergo during research as they conduct individual ‘identity work’ to gain acceptance and attempt to become an ‘insider’ within the organisations they are researching. The paper examines researcher’s multiple identities, the way these can differentiate and distance them from their respondents, and the manipulation of spatial practices they undertake in their identity work as they attempt to (re)position themselves within the research site.

Research seminar series at Lancaster University China Centre

I am delighted to present my on-going research with my research collaborator, Dr. Yu Fu at Lancaster University China Centre (LUCC).

You can see the event page at LUCC here and Youtube video here.

Toward a non-essentialist paradigm of culture: A study of Chinese and Japanese management culture

Speaker: Yu Fu and Zoe Zhu, Lancaster University Management School

Place: Online via Teams, co-hosted with the Lancaster University Confucius Institute

Time: May 25, 2021 11am-12pm (UK time)

This study reviews and compares the Chinese and Japanese national culture values and norms discussed in the management studies to illustrate the importance of non-essentialist paradigm of culture facing the key cross-cultural issues faced by organisations when designing and implementing management policies and practices in East Asia. This paper addresses Nathan’s (2010) call of non-essentialist approach on culture studies by acknowledging the importance of exploring and respecting local culture when developing organisation strategies. A comparative review on the notions in the Confucianism shows the limitation of essentialist scholars who used the functionalist approach on culture. The simplification of culture based on functional and essentialist perspective and the lack of interpretive and non-essentialist analysis on the core of its management culture will result in confusing the corporate ideology (what the company say they do) with the reality (what they actually do). Only through an analysis of the continuity, change, and context of a company, we can better understand the culture behind the mask. Thus, the authors contend that the development of national cultural values and norms and their impact of management policies and practices in Japan and China, needs to be investigated in a dynamic context through a long-term view.

Speaker bios: Yu Fu is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Organisation, Work and Technology, Management School, Lancaster University. She delivers lectures in the areas of Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour. Her research interest lies in international HRM, particularly national cultural factors in employment. The main focus of her research is to investigate the impact of Chinese cultural values on the Western Transnational Corporations’ HR policies and practices in their Chinese subsidiaries.

Zoe Zhu is an International Teaching Fellow in the Department of Organisation, Work and Technology, Management School, Lancaster University. She teaches management and marketing in the China campus as well as the Bailrigg campus. As an ethnographer, she is interested in corporate culture in the era of globalization, in particular in the formation, dissemination and interpretation of corporate ideology at Japanese company in East Asia.

parkERs ゲストトーク


#4 文化人類学のエスノグラファーと、人類の「場」と「創造」について考える







ゼロから始めるビジネス・エスノグラフィ 〜フィールドワークとインタビュー〜






朱 藝 筑波大学 ビジネスサイエンス系 助教
八木 規子 聖学院大学 准教授
鈴木 麻美子 株式会社シグマクシス
大戸 朋子 BEL


開催場所:筑波大学東京キャンパス文京校舎 122講義室(東京都文京区大塚3丁目29-1)



日程 講座内容 担当教員
10:00 – 10:50 イントロダクション
レクチャー(エスノグラフィとは ~その発展と事例)
朱 藝
八木 規子
大戸 朋子
11:00 – 15:10
朱 藝
鈴木 麻美子
15:15 – 16:45


朱 藝
鈴木 麻美子
17:00 – 17:30 レビュー
朱 藝





24名(最低開講人数15名) 先着順


1名  15,000円(税込)








Conference in Kunming, China

I organized a panel entitled “Identity Construction and Management: Implication from Asia” and plan to present a paper “Doing Ethnography in Business: Identity Manipulation and its Implications” at the 8th International Conference on Business Anthropology (June 6-8).

Doing Ethnography in Business:

Identity Manipulation and its Implications

Yi Zhu

 This presentation is an autoethnography of my experiences conducting participant observation in a business organization aiming to examine an ethnographer’s manipulations of identity in the field, its connection to the meaning of Hong Kong society, and its implications on actual business. This presentation analyzes, from the lens of the presenter who was born in Mainland China and educated both in Mainland China and Japan, the process of identity manipulation based on one-and-a-half years of fieldwork in a Japanese multinational retailer in Hong Kong. During my participation in the retail shops as full-time intern, I assumed multiple identities related to nationality, ethnicity and social class, and sometimes I felt necessity to manipulate these identities aiming to build up trustful relationship to get data I needed.

First, I avoided actively promoting my nationality as Mainland Chinese to local employees because I was aware some of them had anti-Mainland sentiment. Data I collected through fieldwork as well as online social network communication showed a glance of the complex identity politics in Hong Kong after the handover. Second, some of my behaviors have confused local employees to identify my ethnic identity. Being educated in Japan for primary school and higher education, some of my behaviors, such as the way of speech and make-ups, inherited various cultural traits from Japan, and this made local employees to identify me as Japanese. On the other hand, since I am also capable of speaking fluent Mandarin with Southern accent, some would identify me as Taiwanese. In some occasions, I tried to strengthen their identification by emphasizing the image they have as Japanese or Taiwanese. Third, I change my social class according to whom I am talking to. Sharing my stories being a post-graduate student at one of the prestige universities in Hong Kong allows me to become friends with management trainees who felt privileged in the company by possessing university degrees. In a meanwhile, when communicating with high school graduates and associate degree students who had grudge against management trainees for feeling inferior, I intended to show I am in fact non-privileged.

This presentation shows the process of identity manipulation and implies that ethnographers sometimes might have to manipulate their identities according to the unique context of the field or to be neutral to avoid workplace politics. Researchers may also need to make good use of their identities as academic fieldworkers to proactively pursue their needs for better research outcomes. This case has several implications for training ethnographers in business. First, an ethnographer needs to be a silent listener. An ethnographer needs to not only avoid getting in the middle of workplace politics, but also to build a trustful relationship with different parties. Second, an ethnographer needs to be neutral in opinion. It is expected for an ethnographer to be “blank” before and while in the field. Third, an ethnographer needs to be less emotionally attached to the organization they are investigating to remain objectivity.


Ted×Otemachi LIVE talk

Ted×Otemachi LIVEでのトークがアップされました!

なぜAI時代に人類学的思考法を持った人材が必要なのか? AI時代において人間の役割は何か.今企業にとって、どのような人材が必要なのか。ビジネスと人類学の視野からひもといていきます。

Why do we need human resources with anthropological thinking in the AI era? What is the role of human beings in the AI era? What kind of human resources practices are needed for companies now? Business Ethnographer Yi Zhu addresses the topic, linking perspectives from both business and anthropology.







Zhu, Yi. 2019. Cultural Conflicts in the Process of Embedding Mission Statements. Transcultural Management Review (Ibunka Keiei Kenkyu), 15, 55-70.





【日時】 2019年3月15日(金) 9:45~16:00 *入場無料(事前登録制
【場所】 筑波大学東京キャンパス文京校舎 (東京都文京区大塚3丁目29-1)