Physical objects

Project Overview

For this project, you will analyze artifacts—physical objects made by societies for use by the people who live in them—and describe how the artifacts relate to your workplace culture. Then, you will present your findings in a report.

Competency

In this project, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following competency:

  • Analyze the relationship between cultural artifacts and societal norms

Scenario

In this project, you will be choosing objects used in a workplace and looking at them as cultural artifacts. These objects can be from your actual workplace, one you are familiar with, or a one where you might like to work in the future. You will analyze how well these artifacts reflect the culture of the workplace they come from and write a report on your findings.

Directions

Your task is to describe and analyze workplace artifacts to show the importance of aligning them to company culture. Artifacts are real, physical objects made by people that embody the ideas of the creators, users, and the culture in which they were made.

  1. Choose two objects that fit the description of artifacts above. Examples of artifacts include training materials, a piece of equipment, a decoration, a business card, a newsletter, or something else.
  2. Analyze the artifacts. Use the questions in the Artifact Analysis Guide to help you do this.
  3. Write a report. In your report:
    • Identify the type of organization or workplace you used.
    • Briefly explain why artifact analysis is relevant to workplace culture.
    • Explain the importance of analyzing artifacts for understanding culture.
      • Provide specific examples of ways your workplace could improve its culture based on the results of the analysis.
    • Describe your chosen artifacts in detail.
      • If possible, include a picture of them.
      • Be sure to identify who created them and who uses them.
    • Explain the purpose of your chosen artifacts.
      • State whether you think the creator(s) succeeded in achieving that purpose.
      • How do different people interact with the artifacts?
    • Discuss how the artifacts reflect the norms, beliefs, and values of the organizational culture.
      • To do this, compare your artifacts with specific workplace culture statements. These might include a mission statement, motto, vision document, slogan, and so on. Do the artifacts reflect the workplace culture in which they are found?
    • Your report can be in the format you consider most appropriate. You could create a visual presentation (slides) or a written report. If you choose to create a presentation, you should provide comprehensive speaker notes. Remember to cite any sources you use.

What to Submit

ReportYou will analyze two workplace artifacts and report on your findings. Use the questions in the Artifact Analysis Guide to guide your artifact analysis. These questions provide key points that you can address in your report.

Your report can be a presentation (8–10 slides) or a written report (1.5–2 pages). If you choose to do a presentation, include detailed speaker notes.

Review the tutorials and resources in How to Design and Deliver an Effective Presentation if you need help with presentation design.

Supporting Materials

The following resource(s) may help support your work on the project:

Citation HelpNeed help citing your sources? Use the CfA Citation Guide and Citation Maker.

Readings: Examples of Artifact Analysis for Cultural TransformationReview the resources below for examples of artifact analysis and cultural change:

  • Using Cultural Artifacts to Change and Perpetuate StrategyThis case study presents examples of how artifacts have been used to support organizational change.
  • The Symbolic Meaning Of Artifacts For The Workplace Identity Of Women In AcademiaThis article provides an example of how gender affects an organization’s artifacts and in turn affects organizational culture.
  • Communicating Identity or Status? A Media Analysis of Art Works Visible in Photographic Portraits of Business ExecutivesThis resource explores how corporate art is more than just decoration: It also communicates personal and organizational identity.

ReportWhich Resources Can Help?Explains the importance of analyzing artifacts to understand culture using specific examples of how artifact analysis could help your chosen workplace improve its culture

  • Unit Resources: Introduction to Culture and Society
  • Unit Resources: Analyzing Artifacts

Describes chosen artifacts in detail, including who created them and who uses them

  • Unit Resources: Analyzing Artifacts

Explains the purpose of the chosen artifacts and whether the creator(s) achieved that purpose

  • Unit Resources: Analyzing Artifacts

Discusses how the artifacts reflect the norms, beliefs, and values of the organizational culture by comparing the artifacts with specific workplace culture statements

  • Unit Resources: Analyzing Artifacts
  • Unit Resources: Artifacts and Cultural Change