• Ariana Friedlander

What does Medical Anthropology have to do with Business Consulting?

I did not think that my background studying Medical Anthropology in college had any relevance in my qualifications as a business consultant.  That is until colleague helped me to realize the connection simply by stating, “I did not know that you studied Medical Anthropology, what’s that?”

And so, I began on a subject of which I am really passionate – what I studied in College.  You see, Applied Medical Anthropology is the study of how culture affects our perceptions of health, healing and illness.  In bio-medicine we often compare the body to machines: our heads are like computers, and our bodies are like cars.  We get “tune ups” to stay healthy.  And when you’re sick, take a pill.  And if that one doesn’t work or you have bad side effects you take another one.  You know how it “is” in our culture.

Prescription Pills - The Proverbial Silver Bullet!


What’s really interesting to me is how other people in other cultures perceive health, healing and illness.  That’s a big part of what I studied in Medical Anthropology because it impacts how we provide aide to other countries.  Just because it makes sense to us that you should take a pill for malaria any time you travel to a country that is afflicted with the disease does not mean that the locals feel the same way.  In some cultures, people do not believe in pre-emptive medicine simply because they believe in only taking medicine when you’re showing symptoms.  Therefore, locals are not going to comply with the doctors orders to take Malaria pills before they get sick.  The cure has to fit the culture and their perceptions of health, healing and illness.

Nyay Health, Patient Care


So, why is this relevant to business?  Because, businesses are the same way, the solution will only work if it fits in the culture.  There’s no one size fits all magic bullet to repair an organization in peril.  There’s not a single formula for success that you can follow for every business decision you have to make.

A lot depends on your company culture, which can be better understood by looking at the beliefs and values that guide your business (the ones that are actually practiced which can sometimes be different from the espoused values).  And also by understanding what motivates your employees; what is considered professional versus unprofessional behavior; and how your employees interact.  Every organization has its own unique culture, its own special traditions and practices.

Businesswoman with a Handheld Device


Fostering a positive and healthy company culture is integral to your long term success.  That is why it is better to work with a consultant that will provide solutions and recommendations that are relevant and realistic to implement.  If the remedy does not fit the culture, noncompliance will ensue and problems will worsen!

#Business #Community #CompanyCulture #Leadership

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