Social Networking Beyond Organization with Karen Stephenson

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - 15:30
OCAD Auditorium, 100 McCaul St.
Community members: 
How can we accelerate healthy organizational change? For renowned social network theorist and corporate anthropologist Karen Stephenson, the answer lies in how we define “membership” in today’s globally connected culture.

The nature of organization lies in its barrier to entry: in how "membership" is defined. This is the raison d'être of organizational culture. This disheartening social fact is all the more lamentable in today's globally interconnected world where our need to meaningfully integrate across disciplines, cultures and firms is more important than ever before. Historically, the prevailing wisdom was to let good ideas "bubble up," but along with the economic myth of "trickle down" it is just and only that, myth! Countering these myths are the proven anthropological approaches that get to the heart of culture, using interviews and participant-observational techniques.... all good, but still very time-consuming. What is needed is a new way to reliably accelerate an accurate diagnosis of an organization and intervene to produce predictable and sustainable (read: healthy) change.

About the Speaker: 
Dr. Karen Stephenson is a corporate anthropologist and a pioneer and "leader in the growing field of social-network business consultants," hailed by Business 2.0 as "The Organization Woman." In 2007, she was one of only three women recognized in Random House's Guide to the Management Gurus. In 2006, she was named as the first Houghton Hepburn Fellow at Bryn Mawr College for her groundbreaking contributions to civic engagement. In 2001, her consulting firm Netform was recognized as one of the top 100 leading innovation companies by CIO Magazine. In 2000 when she was featured in a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell about the social dynamics of office spaces. A global nomad, she has been sighted at the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University where she currently lectures. This was preceded by 5 years at the Harvard School of Design and 10 years at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Harvard University, an M.A. in Anthropology at the University of Utah, and B.A. in Art & Chemistry at Austin College, TX. You can read about her company at