Think those values around ethical research you have are universal? Think again. The folks at Mind Hacks point to an interesting article from the Dana Foundation about how different cultures share different worldviews of ideas like knowledge, ownership and anonymity.
The scientific method itself also conflicts with indigenous Canadian peoples’ worldview. Most scientists consider knowledge to be objective, evidence-based, and individualistic. It resides within individuals, and scientific research aims to obtain this knowledge from groups of individuals and natural phenomena, to construct an objective view of the truth. By contrast, many indigenous peoples view knowledge as relational—it is received and constructed from one’s relationships with other people, including that which is passed down from ancestors, and with the relationship with the natural world.
What does this mean for market researchers and business anthropologists? It’s yet another cautionary message that simply assuming each population we study shares our values can yield very poor insights. Not every organizational culture is the same. Study companies for just a short time and you’ll notice that each one assigns different values and meanings to knowledge, collaboration, and leadership.
So rather than starting from a place of knowing how an organization works, thinks, and behaves, we have to take a few steps back to that place of unknowing. Otherwise, our research becomes more a study of ourselves instead of our actual subjects.