The industrial anthropology stems from the US, where in 1930s several cultural anthropologists took part in the famous Howthorne-Studies and developed a constant interest in the cultural dimensions of business organizations. They conducted anthropological studies of industrial processes, labor relations and of interacting individuals in these processes. However, in our days it is not generally known that economic theory and economic research of organizations have been strongly influenced by anthropology.
This text traces the beginning and the path of development of the industrial anthropology and the role of anthropological research in the field of economic organizations in the US and Britain. Outstanding scientists are presented as well as their results and contributions in this research area until the end of the 1980s, when in other countries and regions worldwide their colleagues ethnologists began to deal systematically with themes aimed at exploring cultural aspects of business enterprises and institutions in the industrial society.
The presented experience of industrial anthropology in the United States stretches back in time until the Hawthorne-Studies and the work of the followers of the “Human Relations” school. This experience has been gained from studies of American factories, hospitals, organizations, it is enriched by the study of industrial enterprises in the UK. Temporarily put aside by anthropologists in the US at the time of the late 1950s to the beginning of the 1970s, this experience was updated and reinforced by the conducted in the 1970s and 1980s occupational folklore and anthropology of work studies in the US. It served for years as a very useful stimulus for a modern ethnology of the realm of work, growing in the European countries since the late 1980s.
Key words: industrial anthropology, organizational culture, Hawthorne-Studies, “Human Relations” school, occupational folklore, anthropology of work studies