The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Anthropology of the Management of Corporate Mythology

Joint Research Coordinator HIOKI Koichiro

Reserch Theme List


By ferreting out discourse existing in corporate organizations that is commonly referred to as mythology, and subjecting it to anthropological analysis, we hope to show the effectiveness of myth analysis and discover the meanings actually transmitted corporate myths convey. Mythology supports a collective body and establishes a basic framework for interpreting the world. Our objective is to show how this mythology works in the social group we refer to as a corporation.
That even within corporations myths can be established and can be subjected to anthropological analysis is significant in opening new frontiers for cultural anthropology. This thinking opens possibilities for new areas in terms of the analysis of the myth structures within numerous social groups. Furthermore, it has become possible to show how myths can be identified as a method for creating solidarity in virtual groups, while also indicating methods of resistance to the creation of corporate myths as a control measure for the sake of maintaining the group. These myths also indicate one tangible possibility for the application of anthropology.

Research Results

The committee held research meetings on nine occasions during the two and a half years of the joint research period. The initial plan called for considering three aspects of corporate mythology: founding myths, hero myths and brand myths. Several reports were delivered on each aspect, which indicated that the choice of these issues had been effective.
Research showed that corporate mythology has the same structure as is found in myths at the folk level. Corporate myth is a feasible subject of study for cultural anthropologists, and the methods for myth analysis in mythology and structural anthropology can be effectively applied. These methods are superior in terms of the volume of research and methodology, as compared to the methods used in business management, social psychology and other fields that research corporations. We concluded that in the future the methodology of cultural anthropology will be the benchmark for analyzing corporate mythology.
Myths at various corporations can be analyzed. Through the development of the concept of corporate mythology, the cultural image of the corporation, which as a social substratum has not been considered an issue, will become a new theoretical object. We think of these myths in terms of a theoretical framework and in terms of the feasibility of practical application.
Besides the actual members of our joint research group, many others participated as observers who delivered reports. The result was that the research period required an extension to allow the members to complete their reports. Another detail to note is the spontaneous involvement by young researchers. Researchers from numerous fields, including business management and sociology, interested in participating in this research joined us as observers. They readily voiced their opinions. We were thus able to establish that corporate mythology is a research theme that can receive continued attention from the next generation of researchers.