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This Anthropology

Elizabeth Briody
Photo for Elizabeth Briody

Affiliation: Cultural Keys LLC

Location: Troy, MI, UNITED STATES



Biography: Following my PhD at The University of Texas at Austin, my career has been centered in anthropological practice – first as an organizational-culture and change researcher at General Motors R&D, and now as the founder and principal of Cultural Keys which specializes in improving organizational culture, increasing partnership effectiveness, and understanding and reaching customers. In both organizations, I have initiated and managed research projects for clients domestically and abroad. I have held adjunct positions at six universities, most recently at Purdue University. At Purdue, I am also a Co-PI on a five-year NSF RED (Revolutionizing Engineering Departments) grant in the School of Mechanical Engineering. I am currently Secretary of the AAA and Past President of NAPA. Much of my career has been dedicated to raising awareness of careers in business, non-profits, government agencies and NGOs. I have been involved in roles such as: 1) Co-Executive Producer of the NAPA/AAA careers video “Anthropologists at Work: Careers Making a Difference” 2) Co-Author of the textbook The Cultural Dimensions of Global Business (8th ed., 2017), the edited volume Cultural Change from a Business Anthropology Perspective (2018), and the book Transforming Culture: Creating an Sustaining a Better Manufacturing Organization (2010). 3) Co-Leader of the Business Anthropology on the Road program that promotes the value of business anthropology scholarship, employment, and professional organizations to students, faculty, and staff 4) Organizer of eleven 2020 AAA career webinars and workshops 5) PI of a 2020 Wenner-Gren grant “Anthropologists on the Public Stage: A Training Program” to offer web-based, modular training to learn how to work successfully in media and public policy circles


PhD, Univ. of Texas at Austin , 1985

Subfield: Cultural Anthropology

Job Type: Practicing



Interests/Specialty Areas:

Medical Anthropology

I went into Anthro because: I took my first anthropology class as a sophomore, taught by Dr. Ina Dinerman (now, Rosenthal-Urey), and fell in love with anthropology. She captivated my imagination with her knowledge, experience, confidence, and ability to understand human culture. She encouraged to go to graduate school and has continued to be a mentor throughout my career.

My latest research is: I am currently working on four projects: 1) Examining processes of innovation dissemination in university engineering settings 2) Exploring the challenges of distance teaching and learning during the COVID-19 era 3) Identifying key themes associated with the work of high-visibility anthropologists in the media and public policy – with the goal of creating modular training for anthropologists aspiring to do this kind of work 4) Capturing individual life-change strategies resulting from COVID-19.

My favorite text is: I have 3 favorite texts – all published in 2013: 1) Jordan, A.T. Business Anthropology. 2nd ed., Waveland 2) Nolan, R.W., ed. A Handbook of Practicing Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell 3) Caulkins, D.D. and A.T. Jordan, eds. A Companion to Organizational Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell.

My advice to potential anthropologists is: 1) Target your anthropological skills to problems that are relevant to your audience – the group, organization, or community with whom you are working 2) Prepare to move from field work and analysis into the arena of recommendations 3) Develop simple, clear, and concise ways of expressing yourself – both orally and in writing 4) Network as much as possible. In addition to sharing knowledge and applications, social and professional networks can be valuable sources of internship placements, con