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On the Origins of Corporate Culture

On the Origins of Corporate Culture

(p.220) 10 On the Origins of Corporate Culture
Consuming Religion
Kathryn Lofton
University of Chicago Press

This chapter offers a history of the concept of “corporate culture.” It begins and concludes with the 2008 financial crisis because respondents to the crisis suggested it was the result of a culture problem. As they emerged from years of fines, layoffs, and reported losses, American bankers repeatedly told their customers that they were working to prevent another crisis through an improvement in their culture. Arguing that corporate culture emerged as a way to humanize the increasing role of corporations in American life, this chapter exposes the anthropological origins and persistent effects of diagnosing “culture” in US corporate life.

Keywords:   corporate culture, 2008 financial crisis, Sherry Ortner, Talal Asad, Douglas McGregor, Clifford Geertz, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, overwork, financialization

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