Society for the Anthropology of Work
Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
In the past few years, routinized business innovation has become a key dimension of the business world, a fact that has found expression in the rise of a class of professional innovation consultants. Many of these consultants have created a market for themselves by convincing business executives that they have managed to develop rational, rule-governed innovation strategies that can systematize and make more reliable the production of ideas for new products and services. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with innovation consultants in the United States, I analyze the mechanisms by means of which innovation consultants construct themselves as experts and their knowledge of innovation as expert knowledge. In so doing, I emphasize not only obvious discursive mechanisms such as the use of specific registers of expertise, but also processes of knowledge standardization, the production and use of material artifacts during the innovation process, and the design of the innovator’s workspace. These institutional paraphernalia of the innovation consultant cohere with one another and make “innovation experts” and “innovation expertise” legible social forms.