Evolutionary Matryoshka: Mapping the dimensions of the evolutionary forces impacting survival of ethnographic insights within a large financial enterprise

Ari Nave

Corporate ethnographies generate ideas that are subject to a number of evolutionary forces. Some ideas thrive, others mutate and propagate, still others wilt. These forces include the sui generis attributes of the ideas themselves, the mechanisms and mediums of transmission, and the ecology of selective forces that are brought to bear on the ideas, such as the corporate organizational structure, power relationships, and business demands. This article will also address the impact of the ethnographer’s agency on the entire process — when he or she is a participant in the development of communications strategies, based upon the research they’re conducting. While agency-based ethnographers may try to equip insights with the “skills” they need to survive, they themselves are subject to evolutionary forces that result in cognitive biases and impact choice. Duel-inheritance theory provides a robust platform for understanding the evolutionary forces on such systems.