Oral History - Julia C. Gluesing

Gluesing.jpgUnderstanding Global Teams in Automobile Production Management, A Career Path in Business Anthropology: An Interview with  Julia C. Gluesing for the SfAA Oral History Project

Julia Gluesing has had extensive experience in research for General Motors, Ford, Groupe Bull and other large companies. Recently retired from faculty positions in the graduate programs in business anthropology and engineering at Wayne State University. Her research includes the functioning of global teams in the automobile industry and social network analysis. She has had extensive experience as a practicing anthropologist prior to her academic career and is now the president of the consulting firm, Cultural Connections. The interview was done by Elizabeth K. Briody in 2017. The transcript was edited by John van Willigen. The audio is archived in the SfAA Collection at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries.

BRIODY:  This is an interview with Julia Gluesing, and today's date is July 17th, 2017, and I am Elizabeth Briody.  Julia, thanks very much for agreeing to be interviewed for the oral history project.  

GLUESING:  Oh, you're most welcome. Fun.

BRIODY:  We are at Julia's home, which is in Troy, Michigan, and so first, I would like to know a little bit about your family background; tell me a little bit about the family circumstances under which you were raised.

GLUESING:   I was born and raised in San Francisco for the most part.  And I grew up in a very multigenerational, multicultural household.  We lived with my parents, and my sister and I lived with my maternal grandparents who were Greek, and Greek was spoken at home, most of the time to me, but I did not pick up Greek because I always answered in English because my parents spoke English--my father was German.  They spoke English among themselves.  And we had a huge extended Greek family.  And there were people in and out of the house all the time.  And then my mother was a university librarian at San Francisco State, and she had colleagues from Sweden and Iran and Japan and Africa--

BRIODY:  Oh my goodness.

GLUESING:  --and they were always over at the house, and my parents were also involved with the State Department.  My mother helped with the drafting of the U.N. Charter in San Francisco, and they were always hosting people from around the world at the house.  And we traveled around, because my father was in the navy.  And we went to the island of Guam when I was about, I'd say, five.  And we came back when I was nine, and I went to school in a Quonset hut with local Guamanians and Koreans and people from the Philippines.  We participated in the local festivals all the time, and got to know the island really well.  I just grew up in this multicultural environment. The high school I went to was seventy percent Chinese. And there was always, Feng, Fong, Fong--(laughs)--Gluesing, you know, in alphabetical order in the classrooms.  Lots of exposure to many different ways of life.    

BRIODY:  And since your father was in the navy, did you leave other than the time to go to Guam?  

GLUESING:   We lived in, what was it, Charleston, South Carolina; we lived in Seattle, for a while.  We did not live abroad other than Guam and when we returned to the States, and I went back to school in San Francisco. He was stationed at Treasure Island in San Francisco. And that was the last place.    

BRIODY:  And that was his last assignment?  Okay.  What were some of the influences from your early years that might have affected you?  I mean, you alluded to the fact that  you grew up in a small, multicultural, multigenerational environment, but tell me a little bit more about that.  

GLUESING:   I think both of my parents loved people and loved getting to know other cultures and that was just a huge influence.  And also, I think my interest in languages, because that came before the anthropology. My interest in languages was really there very early on. My mother enrolled me, she started me taking French and Spanish when I was about ten years old. And then when I was about thirteen, my mother's trying to figure out what to do with a teenage daughter during the summer, right?  (laughter) She enrolled me in a special audiolingual program, a language program that was a pilot for that methodology of teaching languages at San Francisco State.  It was Russian.  So I had Russian, all summer long.  We never spoke any English at all in that class.  And I learned quite a bit, and still have the materials from that class--(laughter)--and can still recite some of those dialogues that I learned. I had a French-Russian young friend in the class, and other people from different parts of the world. We hung out together, and one of them was really an opera star, and had the most gorgeous voice, and we used to sit in the stairwells at San Francisco State, and she would sing for us. It was the most fantastic thing.  

BRIODY:  Oh, neat.  

GLUESING:   And she spoke French, too. And so we would practice every once in a while--our French. And I continued to take French and when I was in middle school and all through high school.  

BRIODY:  Right, and then you ended up doing your PhD work using your French, right?

GLUESING:   Using my French, and I actually majored--I went to UC Davis, and I majored in French and Russian.  I had a double major.  

BRIODY:  Oh my goodness.  

GLUESING:   And then my first job after graduating, was working with the National Park Service, helping to translate Russian from Sitka, I was working for the western regional office, and they were doing work with the Alaska settlement of Russians.  I'd been working for the Park Service and the Civil Service Commission--the federal government in San Francisco--as a way to put myself through college. And so then I just continued with the Park Service for a while.  Then I went to work for the San Francisco Convention Visitor’s Bureau, and I would help with the French-speaking and Russian-speaking visitors--and there were lots of them to San Francisco, and worked on a couple of international marketing expeditions for the city of San Francisco to Mexico and South America, and then to Europe. I had the opportunity to spend three months with the Soviet youth exhibition that came to the US and was touring.  And, so I got assigned to that as an interpreter.

BRIODY:  And you were with people your own age?  You know, it's interesting that you should mention all this, because I don't think I realized it [that] language was a way for you to make your way into a variety of other professional activities.  

GLUESING:   Right. And then, when I left the convention and visitors' bureau, I started my own company with two other guys Native Sons Tours.  And we were all born and raised in San Francisco, and so we started a tour company.  And we used to do tours, convention services for huge conventions, and we owned a couple of mini-buses, and we used to take people all over the place, and I was in charge of the international side of things, and I did tours all over San Francisco in French and in Russian.  

BRIODY:  Oh my gosh.

GLUESING:   I would drive the mini-vans and do custom tours. 

BRIODY:  So it sounds like you were quite proficient in both languages--

GLUESING:   I was--

BRIODY:  --at least by that point--

GLUESING:  --but that was a long time ago.  (laughs)

BRIODY:  Well, I know, I know.  Use it or lose it, right?  Right.  

GLUESING:   Right, I was quite proficient in those languages, and I did that for three years, and then we sold the business, and then I went to work for Westin Hotels in hotel management, and I was in a year-long training program and was at the St. Francis Hotel, learning all aspects of that business. In downtown San Francisco, and I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii and help to open a hotel in Maui and I helped to open the L.A. Bonaventure, and I worked as the tour coordinator. I was working with people from all over the world and also the staff was completely multicultural. It was a 1,200-room hotel, and we had mainly a Filipino housekeeping staff and then the banquet waiters were from everywhere, and of course, I worked in every aspect of the hotel, and I was the night manager and the night auditor for a while, and then the front desk manager. They moved me then to management as an assistant manager at the Renaissance Center--

BRIODY:  Here.  In Detroit. 

GLUESING:  --and that's how I got to Michigan.  (laughs) Was working for Westin.  

BRIODY:  So how long did you end up staying at Westin? 

GLUESING: Probably about eleven or twelve years--

BRIODY:   Okay.  And so what caused you to leave? 

GLUESING:   I kept moving up in corporate management and getting further away from--

BRIODY:  The people?  

GLUESING:  --the people.  Yes.  Exactly. 

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:   And getting into cost control, and all this back of the house and more senior-level management, and I looked around at all the people who were the corporate officers above me, and I said, "Do I want to be that?"  And I said, "I don't."  (laughs) 

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:   And I said, "But maybe," you know, "something smaller?  Not 1,400-room hotel or a 1,700-room hotel."  I said, “okay.  Something else."  And so, by chance, I met someone who was staying in the hotel in downtown Detroit, and  he said, "Why don't you come take a look at our hotel on Mackinac Island?"  (laughter) And I said, I said, "Okay."  So he hired me to be basically the manager of what is now--I think it's called The Mackinac Hotel or something like that? Can't remember what it's called right now.  Mackinac Island is an island in northern Michigan, in the straits of Mackinac, between the upper and lower peninsula. The only way to get there is to fly in or by boat. So I went to work there, managed a hotel, and that was 1979. And I loved it.  And I was there when they made the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, and they stayed in my hotel, and they used our sound stage and our theater, and we moved them back and forth on the barges, and managed the whole thing.  And I'm in that movie; I have a little part, so I learned a lot about the movie-making business, and had a ball working up there, but I also learned that I'm not a small-town girl; I'm an urban creature and I was swinging from the chandeliers by the time I left there because everybody on the island knew every last move. . .

BRIODY:  . . .that anyone makes.  (laughs)

GLUESING:   Right.  Right.  You know, what laundry I hung on my wash.  The night before or what time I got in or what time I left or who came to visit me, every little, tiny thing because I was a fairly prominent person on the island, and so, you know, I was watched all the time, and it's like uncomfortable.  I didn't want to be there.  So I left and I went back to San Francisco for a little while, and tried to figure out what I wanted to do. I had sublet my apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, which is where I was living at the time.  And when I got back to that apartment, I mean, the first thing I did was just get down on my hands and knees and kiss the floor--(laughter)--and say, "Oh my god, I'm glad--so glad to be anonymous. Nobody knows who I am and what I'm doing."  

BRIODY:  Funny.

GLUESING:   And so I left for just a little while for San Francisco.  Came back and decided to move to Boston because my cousin was living there and I was still in the travel industry, but I went, and I managed a wholesale travel company that was putting together package tours to Italy.  And I worked for a really eccentric Italian woman named Donna Franca. She was fantastic.  So,  that was a really fun thing, and I taught in some hotel schools and realized that I really liked teaching. I said, "You know, I think I'd like to go back to school”--(laughs)--so by then I was like thirty-one, and said, "Okay, maybe I'll go back to school," and I was dating my husband--or my future husband at the time, and he was from Michigan, and he wanted to go back to Michigan, I said, "Okay."  You know.  "We'll go--we'll go back to Michigan."  We'd actually met on Mackinac Island, and he actually owned a house there on the island, which he later sold.  But that's how I met him, and he was working in the hotel as well.  He was in charge of the food and beverage side of the business. So we came back to Michigan and to the west side, fairly rural area, but only about a half-hour drive from Michigan State.  And I decided to go back to school.  I got into the communication master's program and loved it so much, and did so well that the professor said, you know, "You need to go for a PhD."  So I did, in communication.  And I got all the way up to my prelims for my doctorate, and actually finished them, and defended one of them--because we had to do two. But by then I was pregnant with my second child. And I was teaching in the hotel school at Michigan State and teaching and doing research in the comm department because it was required as part of the PhD, and I was by then teaching nonverbal communication at the undergraduate and the graduate level, and writing books about the hotel business--that got published by the hotel sales and marketing association. I decided, "I can't finish this now.  I just can't do my dissertation now."  Pregnant with my second child.  I got to get a job and so moved to Detroit, Michigan.  (laughs) 

BRIODY:  Okay.  But did you have the job before you moved?  

GLUESING:   I had the job before I moved. It was a job working for Sandy Corporation as a consultant, in communication.  So I was using everything that I had learned.  

BRIODY:  And so what were the kinds of tasks you would do as part of that job?  

GLUESING:   Oh, I was speechwriting for execs at GM. We were doing all kinds of speeches for big public events, running dealer shows, Traverse City event.

BRIODY:  Oh, yes, right.  Because GM has a big--

GLUESING:  --had a big Traverse City conference.  Which I don't think they do anymore.  

BRIODY:  I don't think they do--

GLUESING:   And I don't think they do big dealer extravaganzas that they used to do or any of that anymore.  And I did that initially, and then I became--and really--and worked a lot with-oh my goodness, what was his name?  He was in PR and communications at the time--and he went--and he went to manage NUMMI [Editor: A automobile manufacturing plant jointly owned by GM and Toyota, closed and sold to became the Tesla plant site. NUMMI stands for New United Motor Manufacturing].  What was his name?  Then he became quite prominent in General Motors.  

BRIODY:  I'm sure I would recognize it if you said it. 

GLUESING:   Oh, I know you would.  I know you would know his name.  I can't think--but I can't think of it--but I--with the communications people, mostly in CPC.  

BRIODY:  Okay.  Chevrolet Pontiac Canada Group.  

GLUESING:   Right.  I was assigned to that group and did a lot of work in communication with them and also with Saturn when Saturn first came online, coming up with their strategic communication plan and all of that.  I became more of a planner and researcher in my later years Sandy Corporation did research for huge projects--for Chevrolet, for Exxon, for Hyatt, for Stouffer Hotels and Resorts, for Volkswagen, for Mercedes, for Chrysler, for--


GLUESING:  --you know, for all kinds of companies.  They--

BRIODY:  How long were you there?  

GLUESING: Probably about seven years.  Right.  I left in '90--'91-- because I just decided, "Okay, my kids are at school now"--

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING: I can go back and finish my PhD.  But in all that time I had gotten much, much more interested in the cultural side of business.

BRIODY:  Why?  How?  

GLUESING:  Because so many of the communication issues that I ran across were really rooted  in cultures, and at that time I was looking more at occupational cultures--I could really see--because there was a big push in the auto industry then for cross-functional work--

BRIODY:  Right.    

GLUESING:  --and I could see the disconnects, and a lot of the projects that I was assigned to at GM, one of them was a huge fix-the-A-car project--  [Editor: This was the first front wheel drive car of GM. Various divisions of GM produced cars of this design. It was withdrawn from the market in 1985.] --and with Gary Olson and Gary Dickinson and it was operations and engineering.  

BRIODY:  And the A car is the Chevy Cavalier.  

GLUESING: It was an eighties car, right?  I would sit in these meetings that would start at 7 o'clock in the morning, and you'd have all these operations people and all these engineering folks, and I could watch them talking with each other, and they were just speaking past each other, and they were using language that I could tell they're using the same words, but those words don't mean the same thing--(laughter)--to the two groups.  And I could see it, and I said, "This is," you know, "this is really a cultural thing.  And it's a language thing."  I was always really sensitized to that kind of thing because of my language background--

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:  --and I was always interested in watching people, and I was very practiced at that because in my growing up, it's a lot of what I did, and a lot of how I learned languages and how I learned about culture. One of the ways that I really learned was by watching.  Just observing everything.  One of my favorite leisure activities when I was growing up in high school and in college was to go sit in a coffeehouse in San Francisco, and just watch people.  And I would write down what they were doing.  And what I thought might be going through their minds, or what I thought might be happening at a given table--

BRIODY:  You were self-taught.  (laughs)

GLUESING:   I was without knowing it, I was doing anthropology observational skills.  And so the language skills, all that stuff was very much a part of me from a very young age.  But I didn't know, really, about anthropology.  I think I took one anthro class--a cultural anthro class--when I was in college, but I really didn't pay that much attention to it until my senior year, I'd forgotten about this.  I took a linguistic anthropology class in my senior year.  Reason I took it was because of the language piece and I'd had linguistics, and I thought, 'Well, this sounds really interesting, and I need another social science class to graduate. But it has all these prerequisites and it's for seniors, and I don't have any of those prerequisites, but I'm going to sign up for the class anyway.  And I went to the class, and the teacher told me I couldn't be in the class, and I had to leave because I didn't have any of the prerequisites.  And I tried to convince her I needed to stay in this class--then she kept saying no.  But I kept showing up for class anyway--(laughter)--when she said no, I mean, even though she said no, I was showing up for class--

BRIODY:  Oh, that's hilarious.  

GLUESING:   I'd come to class.  I'm taking this class.  I want this class.  And then, because back then, we could take classes pass/fail. I said, "Well, look, I don't need the grade.  I just need the class.  So I'll take it pass/fail.  Is that okay?"  And she finally said, "Okay, you can take the class," (laughter) "pass/fail."  So I signed up, actually formally registered for the class, and I ended up getting the best grade in the class.  

BRIODY:  That'll show her.  (laughs)

GLUESING:   Yeah.  And she loved me, and she tried to talk me into going to graduate school in linguistic anthropology. But I was having none of it at the time, you know.  I was like, okay, I'm done with school.  I'm not doing this, and of course, I went to Europe and traveled all over Europe for a year in a van.  (laughter) When I worked at the convention and visitors' bureau for a couple of years, and then I went and traveled for a year all over Europe.  And that's when I learned that there are many ways to live a life, and none is better than the other.  

BRIODY:  Right.  They're just different.

GLUESING:   There are just many--there are just different.  Many ways to live a life.  And I also learned that it's up to you whether you're happy or not.  Important lessons.  

BRIODY:  Well, very important lessons.

GLUESING:   Right.  And you make your own path.

BRIODY:  So who convinced you to go for a PhD in anthro?

GLUESING:  Well, at that time, I divorced my [first husband] and married Ken [Riopelle].  Ken was super supportive and for the first time in my life since I was sixteen years old, I really didn't have to support myself or my family.  I said to [my husband], "I'm thinking about going back to get my PhD." Ken said, "Well, why don't you take three months off and just read--just let things bubble up.  Decide what you want to do."  And it was like, "You're--really?  I can really do this?"  (laughter) "I can't believe this.  It's the first time that I don't have to support myself or my family.  And it--it's like, "Wow."

BRIODY:  Like a sabbatical.  (laughs)

GLUESING:   Yeah.  I had three months where I could really just think about it and just read.  And I picked up all, and it started to come to me that I was really interested in anthro.  And I picked up Blackberry Winter--

BRIODY:  Okay.    

GLUESING:   The Margaret Mead. I had read Margaret Mead because she wrote columns in Redbook and stuff like that, I mean--she kind of popularized it.  And I picked up that book, and I said, "Wow, this is really cool."  And I started reading books by anthropologists, and I read Malinowski, Gregory Bateson--

BRIODY:  Wow.  These are pretty heavy books.

GLUESING:  I read some language ones--Noam Chomsky, you know, different things.  I was just picking up Levi-Strauss.  Anything.  Just--you know--(laughs)--picking up stuff, and then, I said, "You know, I really think I want to go back to school in anthropology and I want to do linguistic anthropology."  But I hadn't decided where.  And then I left Sandy Corporation and had been freelancing and just doing work as a researcher on my own and formed a little company called JK Research. I would contract back to Sandy Corporation every once in a while, and Sandy said, "Hey," you know, "we have this project at General Motors and we really think that  we would like you to go to this meeting and represent Sandy Corporation, and "maybe be part of the project."  So I went to a meeting, and it was a GM and EDS [project] at the time.  Alright?  And the two of them were together and they were working on a project to introduce C4. 

BRIODY:  Right.  So EDS is a company that was started by H. Ross Perot to take care of, among other companies--to take care of GM's computer network and all of the computer-related planning associated with it.  

GLUESING:   Yeah.  And so they were working on this, you know, C4, and they had run up against a lot of issues where some groups would adopt readily, other groups would say, "Okay," but do nothing and other groups were actively sabotaging.

BRIODY:  Right.  And C4, if I remember--stood for Cad, Cam, Cae--

GLUESING:  --and Cim.  

BROIDY: So computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing--

GLUESING:  -- computer-aided engineering, and--

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:  --and computer--

BRIODY:  Integrated?

GLUESING:  --integrated manufacturing or something like that.

BRIODY:  So that's why it was called C4.

GLUESING:   C4.  And, at that first meeting, in walked a woman with three or four people and it was clear she was in charge, and, um, she sat down at the table and introduced herself as Marietta Baba. And she was with a group of graduate students.  

BRIODY:  --I worked on that too--

GLUESING:  --worked on that same project.  

BRIODY:  Didn't realize that.

GLUESING:   And so she introduced herself as a business anthropologist, and I went, "Business anthropology?  What's that?  I never heard of that.  I never knew anything like that even existed."

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:   And then I had no idea where I was going to go back to school, but I knew it had to be in this area, and, you know, "Well, can I go back to MSU?  Can I go to U of M?"

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:   You know, where would I go?  And I'd also been thinking--well, what am I going to do with it?  Because, you know, I'm not exactly going to go off to Pago Pago or something like that. I have to do something that's much more applied and much more practical. I can't be a traditional cultural anthropologist.  I have to do something else with my language.  My linguistic anthropology. I have to do something different.  I'd been puzzling over that question.  And then here was this business anthropologist--

BRIODY:  Isn't that funny?

GLUESING:  And so the next day, I called her up.

BRIODY:  Sure.

GLUESING:   I said, "Hi."  (laughs) "Remember me from yesterday?"  (laughter) "Who are you?  Can I come down and talk to you?"  And so, I did.  And I found out about the program at Wayne State, and I signed up. 

BRIODY:  So presumably she was able to allow you to focus more on what you wanted to focus on and do your work where--in a way that made it consistent with your ideas.  

GLUESING:  And also, I certainly didn't need any instruction in business.  I'd had plenty of that.  And I was able to transfer a lot of the credit hours that I had taken at MSU, and I already had the language requirement figured out, so it wasn't too hard for me to do a couple of years of coursework and then do my dissertation. But I had to go back and do two more years of coursework.  

BRIODY:  That's still kind of a lot, but--

GLUESING:   But it's a lot, but it was good.  It was fantastic.

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:   Because I really didn't have any anthropology--(laughs)--

BRIODY:  Right.  You had communication and language and all this other stuff--

GLUESING:   I had the class in linguistic anthropology, and low, many years ago, right?  And -and I still had a minor in linguistic anthropology, and I really used that in my dissertation at Wayne State.  Right.  I mean, I had a minor at Wayne State in linguistic anthropology. And my culture area was France. So it was cultural anthropology with a specialization in business anthropology and a minor in linguistic anthropology.  

BRIODY:  That's interesting.  I didn't know that there were such things as minors at the PhD level.

GLUESING:   Yeah, you could minor--I mean, you didn't have to do it--

BRIODY:  Right.  But it was available.  Right.

GLUESING:  --but I chose to.  Right.  And I chose to. Frances Trix was [on] my committee.

BRIODY:  She was one of the faculty at Wayne State.  

GLUESING: And she later went to Indiana, but after I finished my PhD. 

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:   I took the classes, and when it came to the Methods class, I probably knew more than the instructor.  I had a lot of methods when I was at Michigan State.

BRIODY:  Right.  Surprisingly.

GLUESING:   And both interpretive methods and discourse analysis, because it was in communication and a huge amount of stats. 

BRIODY:  Well, surprising that they made you take that, then. Did they think you would get something in addition like, interviewing skills or something?  

GLUESING:  I think that was it.  I mean, it was part of the requirements, and I said, "Okay, fine." I will learn something from this, and there isn't a class I didn't learn something from--

BRIODY:  Right.  Right. 

GLUESING:   You know, and again, you make your own learning--

BRIODY:  Absolutely.

GLUESING:   And it doesn't really matter--(laughs)—that much--

BRIODY:  Right.  Right.

GLUESING:  --you know, you make your own learning and what it helps if you have really good instructors--I mean, Meta was really good.  Frances Trix was really good.  I took some classes in the French department  and one on the French mind, which was which was taught in French.  Which was really great because it gave me a refresher for my French.  And it was a graduate class, and it counted, and but mostly anthro classes, because I really didn't need anything else. I took archaeology.

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:  I really liked the theory classes, and Andrea Sankar was really, really good at teaching those theory classes, and some of the early theory classes actually with Bunny [Bernice Kaplan] were good too. She was great at facilitating discussion.  And we had to read a lot and write a lot -and it was fun teaching business anthro because I did that as a TA, as well. 

BRIODY:  And tell me, at what point did you start Cultural Connections?  Did that figure in about this time?  

GLUESING:   That actually started, 1992--

BRIODY:  Okay, so, twenty-five years ago.  

GLUESING:  Twenty-five years ago.  So even before I had my PhD, I was doing a little bit of that and actually did some cultural training through EDS--

BRIODY:  --national-culture based?  Or--

GLUESING:   Mostly national-culture based.  And I had done some training for U of D Mercy—[Editor: University of Detroit Mercy] on French culture.  That was a lot of fun.  I had done quite a bit of that.  And actually, Chrysler a little bit, when they were doing their merger with Daimler-Benz. 

BRIODY:  On German culture?

GLUESING:   Right.  

BRIODY:  So all that was playing into your anthro training--

GLUESING:   Right.  All that was playing--and I was already used to be a consultant.  I had had plenty of training in that. That was no issue, and I didn't need any help in finding my dissertation field site or figuring that out. Ken and I went to a French restaurant in Royal Oak one evening when it was getting time to kind of think about what I wanted to do for my dissertation. We had dinner there--Les Hauteurs. It doesn't exist anymore--

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:  It was a place that had butcher block paper on the tables, and it was French food, and they had crayons, and we sat there for three hours and ate dinner, and--(laughter)--and just mapped out, you know, what would be the ideal dissertation?  Sat there and wrote all over the butcher paper: What would be the best thing?  Well, we kind of thought, given everything we know in our consulting and everything we're doing, that--that global teams is really going to be important--(laughter)--you know, and this was like, 1992, right?

BRIODY:  Right.  Right.

GLUESING:   Nobody had global teams then.  And we just said, "Well, this is going to be important.  Global teams is going to be important."

BRIODY:  And you have so many articles on global teams--

GLUESING:   Global teams, right.  And I'm still doing that, but it's taken a slightly different turn.  But I'll get to that, this is long--roundabout--(laughs)--

BRIODY:  That's okay.  I think it shows that there isn't a straight path--

GLUESING:   No straight path.  Absolutely.  My career has been anything but a straight path.  

BRIODY:  Right.  And it's good for people to know this.

GLUESING:   But it's all connected, it all has to do with people, language, communication, and culture.  All of it. Even the hotel business those themes have been there since I was a kid.

BRIODY:  So you left the restaurant--

GLUESING:   It's like what else could I be except an anthropologist?  

BRIODY:  Exactly.  Exactly.  I was sort of waiting for you to eventually come to that conclusion.  (laughs)

GLUESING:   Yeah.  What else could I be?  I mean,  it took me a little while to realize it, but what else could I be?  

BRIODY:  Right.  Wait a second, you finished your crayon drawings--

GLUESING:   I finished the crayon drawing and figured out what I wanted to do--

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:   One  of the people who had worked with Ken and I Sandy Corporation. That's where we met.  So, uh, one of the people we'd worked with, Judith Marchinda, was our admin, her father passed away. And she--of course--asked us to come to the funeral and we did, and she asked us to come to her house after the funeral and she came from a very large family, and she had a sister who lived in Boston. And was working, actually, for a company called Groupe Bull--

BRIODY:  Oh yes.  That's right. Which is where you ended up doing your dissertation.

GLUESING:  And we just happened to start talking after the funeral at the gathering at Judith's house, and I was telling her what I was doing, and then she started telling me what she was doing, and she said that they had these core teams that--(laughter)--they were working on, and this was one of her important projects at Groupe Bull, was organizing this, and she was in organizational development.  And she said they weren't working; they were having problems with the core teams, and she suspected that the problems were culture, and they tried a whole lot of different things and all these OD [Organizational Development] interventions and they thought maybe they had the wrong people on these teams, but then they decided that it's not the people's skills, people are skilled--something else is going on here.  And she said, "Oh my god, you would be perfect."  And so I said, "Okay.  Let's talk.  And so it took about six months of talking back and forth, with her and people in the Boston area because Groupe Bull had bought Honeywell and they bought the computer company Wang  in the Boston area--

BRIODY:  And they were all on one--route 128.  

GLUESING:   All along route 128 in the Boston area. And so they were in the US, mostly in the Boston and the Phoenix area  and then all-around Paris and then some places outside Paris. I--in order to get it--so we decided, okay, I would make a proposal for working with them.  And I wrote a formal business proposal to do work with them.  To do my dissertation but also to do work with them, to consult in a way.

BRIODY:  Right.

GLUESING:   And it took probably about six months of going back and forth, and it had to be approved in France and in Boston and at Wayne State.  Absolutely. And all of it had to get orchestrated.  And, intellectual property and copyright, 

BRIODY:  Yeah, that must have been a--

GLUESING:  --was a big issue. And I had to hire a French-speaking lawyer to help me with writing the copyright documents because they wanted to own and have all my data, and I said, "You can't do that."  (laughs) 

BRIODY:  No.  Not if it's going to be a publicly-distributed dissertation

GLUESING:  --and I'm not giving you my data, so it was a lot of negotiation, but we figured it out. How we worked it out is that they hired me part time.  

BRIODY:  I see.

GLUESING:   So I actually worked for them part time and I hung out with five of their teams, and then I interviewed all the other core team members and traveled around in Paris extensively or was in Boston or Phoenix extensively.

BRIODY:  Okay, so let me ask: how old were your girls, then? 

GLUESING:   They were in elementary school; I want to say--eight and ten?

BRIODY:  They were still young.

GLUESING:   They were still awfully young, and I never could have done it if I didn't have super supportive husband.  Ken was fantastic.  I couldn't have done it without that.  But it was tough, and it was hard being away from them. There wasn't all the internet and social media connections. Not like there are now.  And, I did have a very, very early-on laptop with a modem.  (laughter) And I traveled with this little portable office, and I could connect. I figured out how to connect a modem to the French telephone lines because that was a completely different connection mechanism and we could fax, and then every once in a while, we'd write--and we could email; I had CompuServe as an email, right?  Everything was black and white, and you know, for a 900-baud modem or something like that, I mean, super slow on the telephone line, and we would talk every once in a while.  

BRIODY:  Okay.  And over how long a period of time did your research take with them?

GLUESING:   Fourteen months in the field, a long time.   And lots of participant observation, lots of interviews, lots of secondary data, structured interviews, semi-structured--completely informal, you know, over drinks.  But that was data. I wrote up all of it. One of the hardest things, is when you're out there doing this and you're with people from seven or eight in the morning until midnight all day long--

BRIODY:  Right.  When are you going to do it?

GLUESING:   And there were a couple of times when I really went back to my room, and I stayed up until two or three in the morning and I dictated or typed up field notes so I wouldn't forget conversations, because you can't sit there over drinks and write notes.  (laughs) 

BRIODY:  No, you cannot.  (laughter)   

GLUESING:   So getting it all done, the field notes was tough.  But I designed my own database and figured out all that out and organized everything before I ever hit the field. I had a complete plan for how I was going to gather my data. What my field notes would look like, what the format would be, all that.

BRIODY:  I think it must have also helped that you were really a much more mature graduate student--

GLUESING:   Yes. Totally.

BRIODY:  --in anthropology, because you had all this experience at Michigan State, and all this business experience--

GLUESING:   Right.

BRIODY:  And you were older.

GLUESING:   Right. Oh, I was already, like, forty.  

BRIODY:  Yeah.  So, you have this as an experiential advantage  and so it would seem that you could be quite efficient in the sense of knowing what you needed to know--

GLUESING:   Right.  Knowing what I needed to know, working on my own, figuring things out on the fly, not being intimidated by any of it--

BRIODY:  Yeah.  Right.  Exactly.

GLUESING:  --already knew how to do interviews because I'd done a lot of them at Sandy--

BRIODY:  Right.  You already had so much practice--

GLUESING:  --totally.

BRIODY:  --that the average student I don't think would have had at that time.  So, once you finished your degree at Wayne State, what was your first job or the first consulting opportunity that you had following--

GLUESING:   Well, I definitely stayed with Cultural Connections and did that--(sighs)--for a good six- or seven-years full time.  Ken left Sandy Corporation about a year after I finished my PhD. I finished in '95, and he left towards the end of '96 when we thought that we had enough business that we could support ourselves and our family.

BRIODY:  Okay.

GLUESING:   Right.  We were doing cross-cultural consulting, some with GM--we had a couple of big projects with GM.  Most of it though was Ford Motor Company working with global teams, growing global product development, lots of that. Lots of program teams with the chief program engineer. There was one huge project where we were very early on in the concept  design phase, in product development when they just decided they were going to pursue the project and it was a small SUV that was going to be built in Germany and in Brazil at Ford's, new Amazon plant. It was going to be sold in Europe but not in the US, South America, and in Japan.

BRIODY:  Right.  Because of the regulatory differences.

GLUESING:   Regulatory issues.  This was considered a small car and at that time, the way Ford was organized, small-car division was headquartered in Dunton, England and so the early , development in the product development cycle was always in Dearborn and they would bring people in, and so there were managers from Great Britain who came for an extended period of time six months which ended up turning into like eighteen for these poor people. And then people were brought in from Brazil, people were brought in from Germany. There was an Italian designer, the Japanese came in because they decided they were going to sell this thing in Japan, too. It was this super multicultural leadership team.  And so, I was their resident sort-of anthropologist, cultural expert. And in many ways, it's what I did when I did my dissertation, because one of the teams, you know, they ended up introducing me as "notre anthropologue," you know, (laughter) our anthropologist, right?  So that's who I became. So almost like a participant-observer? 

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:  I spent a good year with that team.  More than that, probably.  And then I worked for other teams that were headquartered in Germany, did a lot of training they developed at Ford, a whole group, of what they called team-effectiveness coaches. I was a coach and trainer for all the team-effectiveness coaches. And so I did a lot of cross-cultural training for them and all kinds of team-training and other sorts of things.  And did a lot of research, did some team comparisons of Ford and Mazda and their team processes. At that time, too I was working on National Science Foundation grants, so I still had my foot in the academic world--

BRIODY:  But not teaching at that point.

GLUESING:   But I was teaching.  

BRIODY:  Oh, you were.  Okay.  

GLUESING:   I started teaching actually in '97 a couple of years after I finished my PhD, I was still doing grant work, but then I started teaching in '97 for the College of Engineering. That's when I started teaching in the engineering management master's program. I was teaching the management of technology change from a sociocultural, technical-systems perspective.

BRIODY:  And did that position in the engineering management program have any connection to the people that you were working with at Ford, or was it a totally independent--

GLUESING:  --it was totally independent of the people I was working with at Ford.  

BRIODY:  Unbelievable. I think that in listening to you, it's about finding work and so on is really about networking, and serendipity--

GLUESING:   Totally.  A lot of it is serendipity, and you--

BRIODY:  --but it's just kind of who you meet at a particular point in time. And maybe working with people in the same company as in your case with Ford, but these people didn't know each other.  

GLUESING:   They didn't know each other.  And it wasn't that--it had nothing to do with it.    And it was really Don Falkenburg, who was the chair of industrial and manufacturing engineering at Wayne State at the time.  It's now industrial and systems engineering at Wayne State. He was looking for somebody to teach this class. And I had worked with him on the C4 project. Okay, so he knew me.  

BRIODY:  Right.  So it's really just, who you know and how you get to know them. 

GLUESING:   And I got to know Ford, because of the NSF projects that I was working on, right. And one C4 project, but then there was a transformation-to-quality-organizations, and I worked extensively on that, and Meta and Falkenburg were the PIs on that, but then she went to the National Science Foundation--

BRIODY:  As program director.  

GLUESING:  So somebody had to take over her role, so I did. 

BRIODY:  Okay.

GLUESING:   And then I officially became when she went, I officially became the PI of the National Science Foundation global teams project when she left that.  And we still had a couple of years of that, with the NSF, we officially transferred that role.  But on the TQO, the transformation-to-quality-organizations, I didn't formally transfer my role to PI; I just picked up the work.

BRIODY:  And was Ken, your husband, part of both of those NSF grants?

GLUESING:   He really wasn't in either one of them  until the end of the global teams grant and he got a little bit involved with that, but by then, he was already working, this is interesting, too, because we decided--and this was about the 2001 timeframe when we were still doing a lot of consulting and--but we could see what was happening with an economic downturn then, and we could see at Ford and with our other clients that the consulting was going to dry up because of the economic downturn they were starting to get rid of business that wasn't a part on the car. BRIODY:  Right.   

GLUESING:  Anything that wasn't a part of the car--

BRIODY:  Oh yeah, that's the way they handle it.

GLUESING:  --was going to go away. We could see the writing on the wall, and so we said, "Well, we need to start thinking about doing something else.  What are we going to do?"  Well, why don't we become academics?  (laughs) 

BRIODY:  Sure.

GLUESING:   Sure.  Let's do that.  We already have a foot in the door at Wayne State.  Let's see what we can turn up there. 

BRIODY:  And Ken's last name is Ken Riopelle.

GLUESING:   Another professor in industrial and systems engineering, and Ken Chelst was running the engineering management master's program, and because Ken and I were team teaching our management of technology change class, he got to know both of us and so he asked Ken to come on board full time and actually run that thing for him.  So Ken did, and we did a lot of research, a whole assessment of the program, and then Ken managed all the leadership projects and was managing the program  and interfacing with Ford Motor Company and their university programs. So, we already had that connection there, and then Alan Batteau was acting director for the Institute for Information Technology and Culture. He's an anthropologist at Wayne State.  And he wanted to take a sabbatical, and he and I had worked together on a couple of Air Force projects, and other sorts of things. I was there.  And he called me up and said, "Hey.  Do you want to be acting director while I go on my sabbatical?"  "The Institute for Information Technology and Culture," which had just formed  was just getting going.  So I took over that role for a while, and when he came back, I just became associate director and the two of us basically ran IITC and then I started teaching actually in anthropology again.  And I was advising master's students, and they hired me as an instructor to teach and gave me an office--a little [inaudible].  Actually the office of Sherry Briller, who was on sabbatical; they put me in her office.

BRIODY:  And she has since left and gone to Purdue.    

GLUESING:   Then there was an opening in business anthropology, and I went through the formal process of being hired and the screening process, and all the interviewing, and doing my job talks, and everything else.  And then they offered me the job.  But they wanted to give it to me at $45,000 a year.  And I said, "NFW."  (laughs) I'm not going to work--(laughs)--for what I was making when I was, you know, thirty years old.  And after all this experience.  

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:   I am not doing that. And they tried everything they could to, to fix it, but they--their--because the dean was not going to give on the salary and they never talked salary with me before they offered me the job and I probably made a mistake in not asking, but, you know, I never in my wildest dream did I think it would be that low. 

BRIODY:  Would be that low.  Right.   And this was in what year?  

GLUESING:  --oh, I'd say 2002, maybe.  

BRIODY:  Okay.  Yeah, I have no idea.  

GLUESING:   I'd say 2002.  2002.  

BRIODY:  Okay.  Yeah.  So it sounds pretty low.   

GLUESING:   2003.  Yeah.

BRIODY:  I mean, we know at in many anthropology departments compared with other parts of the university, the salaries are relatively low,  but this clearly was very, very low.  

GLUESING:   But this was lower, very, very low.  And they tried to get engineering and anthropology together and actually the chair of the anthropology department and the chair of engineering got together and agreed that they would be very happy with a joint appointment because by then, engineering had gotten to know me and my teammates--

BRIODY:  Right.  Right.  This is a no-brainer.  

GLUESING:  --and I said, "Hey, this is a no-brainer.  But we're not even going to ask her to teach," you know.  "But we'll up the salary"--

BRIODY:  Yeah.  

GLUESING:  --you know, like double it, for a nine-month appointment, we'll double it and the dean of engineering agreed, but the dean of liberal arts, Bob Thomas, would not agree, because he didn't believe in joint appointments.

BRIODY:  Oh my gosh.  

GLUESING:   And he just would not agree to that.

BRIODY:  Oh.  

GLUESING:   And so I said, "Okay, I'm not doing it." 

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:  Anyway, engineering said, "Okay, anthropology, we're taking her full time."  They said, "Okay, you don't want her?  We'll take her full time.  We want her full time."  So they hired me full time.  

BRIODY:  Wow.  Very interesting politics.   

GLUESING:   And then I had a wonderful time in engineering as an anthropologist, I was teaching in the EMMP [Engineering Management Master’s Program] and doing really interesting research on the global diffusion of innovation and global networked organizations--

BRIODY:  That was the NSF grant.  

GLUESING:  --right, which was an NSF grant, and as a PI, it was a great grant--

BRIODY:  And when did that start and end?  

GLUESING:   It started in 2005 and ended in 2010.  

BRIODY:  Okay.  So it was a five-year NSF grant.    

GLUESING:   And I got to start the global executive track PhD program and helped to shape that and wove culture into that. I also got to go to China, on a number of trips and with the president of the university and with the deans and the VP for research, and all these joint programs, and I did a lot of organizing of those trips, and we set up joint degrees with Tongji University, and Tsinghua. I did some training programs in China at Tsinghua University, and we did stuff at Nanjing. And then did all this back and forth, in the global executive PhD program that I became co-director of that program.  And, until I left academia and officially retired in 2011, primarily because I went to San Francisco to take care of my mother.

BRIODY:  That's right.  Well, and a very important and memorable time.  

GLUESING:   But I didn't stop with my anthropology; I got a job working with the global leadership team and a brand-new healthcare organization that was a division of Robert Bosch, Bosch Healthcare Systems in Palo Alto--

BRIODY:  You've had trips to Germany as a result. 

GLUESING: I did a huge project with that, about a nine-month project. We did all these interviews and participant observation. I led the research and worked with a couple of other consultants and then Ken and I, we continued to do a lot of work on global networked organizations. In our work on the NSF grant, we made the acquaintance in very early on--I'd say by 2006 with Peter [A.] Gloor in the Center for Collective Intelligence  at MIT, which is in the Sloan School. He was huge into network research and one of the things we had promised NSF we would do in our network work, was to use Octoshell software wherever we could find it.    And he had a program called Condor, which was a dynamic network analysis program, and we were really interested in looking at collaborations over time and we wanted to use data that was already flowing through the IT infrastructure at companies, and we had GM--the CIO—chief information officers at Daimler Chrysler--at the time--and GM and Ford sign on as corporate sponsors.  But of course, Chrysler was in crisis after a while and never--we did a little bit of work with Chrysler, but not a lot.  And we did gather data from them but not a tremendous amount.  And then GM, we never got in because the whole structure of the IT administration from the top down changed--

BRIODY:  Oh, okay.  

GLUESING:  --and, HP, you know, kind of took it over, and then I don't know what they did.  But anyway.  (laughs) And everybody was wary of the privacy issues associated with the--

BRIODY:  Associated with the emails. No, I remember you came to talk, and I thought 'Wow, this is interesting, but I couldn't get my head around. 

GLUESING:  But we managed to convince Ford to do it and they really got a lot out of the program, and those kinds of things are still going on and we're working with global data, insight, and analytics at Ford, now doing a little bit of work there. 

BRIODY:  Did that part of Ford connect with any of the other parts of Ford?

GLUESING:   That part of Ford was actually connected to the engineering management master's program because in the EMMP class, their third year--they do two years of classes, and their third year they do this year-long leadership project which has very-top-level vice presidential sponsorship and then they have more lower-level champions, and it's very cross functional, they cross all parts of the organization, and they take on some problems that keep these VPs awake at night.

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:  I had announced in the class that I was teaching, we had this NSF grant, and if anybody was interested in working on a piece of it as their leadership project, they could do so.  Well, turns out one of the student teams was super interested in it so we worked for a year with the student team, they were our inside Ford.

BRIODY:  That's interesting--

GLUESING:  And one of them was trying to diffuse signature HMI, which became sync.  

BRIODY:  Human-machine interface.  

GLUESING:   And it was Ford's signature human-machine interface, and what was it going to look like.  And it was a global project.  Fit absolutely perfectly, and she was the lead person, and she was quote-unquote, "the change agent." And it was a perfect diffusion project, and diffusion across a global networked organization, perfect.  So, we did our work with them.  And they had an IT person on it, and we had a secure server, we had all the legal resources of Ford Motor Company to get it approved around the world--

BRIODY:  Right.  Right. 

GLUESING:  --and HR, and everything--

BRIODY:  Yeah, so they were working for you, in a sense.  (laughs)

GLUESING:   They were working for us.

BRIODY:  Not the other way around.   

GLUESING:   And, well, we worked for them, too.  We worked our tails off--

BRIODY:  I'm sure you did.  

GLUESING:  --we were there many, many nights, you know.  All day and all night--

BRIODY:  Negotiating and--

GLUESING:  --oh yeah, and working with them on the analytics, and we kept all the data inside Ford.  It never, ever left Ford.  It was never outside of Ford's firewall.  And we anonymized the data so the only data that we actually got as researchers was anonymized data.

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:   But all the work inside Ford  they could do, as their own analysis, so we helped them with that.  

BRIODY:  That's great.   

GLUESING:  --all stayed inside Ford.

BRIODY:  And is that project still ongoing, or is that finished now?  

GLUESING:   That particular project is not ongoing although a project like it is ongoing--

BRIODY:  Okay.  All right.  So you're still--as far as I can tell, you're still active.  

GLUESING:   Oh, totally.

BRIODY:  And I know that you wrote a paper at my request for a Journal of Business Anthropology, and that paper is still under review. As far as we know.  I haven't heard anything.  A couple of sort of final questions.  

GLUESING:   Well, we're doing, just to finish that up.

BRIODY:  Yes, please.  Go ahead.  

GLUESING:  --I think I started that thought that Ken and I--one of the things that we're doing now is workshops around the world, and I teach a qualitative-methods class at a university in Germany, and then we've been to Chile, we've been to Japan, once--now we're going back again next week to do a workshop on Condor, and we do, like, global networked organizations. We've been to Canada a couple of times doing that sort of stuff.  Qualitative research--because we always combine the big data of the network analysis, with the qualitative.  

BRIODY:  Because otherwise it may not make sense. What would you say in terms of the projects that you have ever worked on which was most interesting to you?  If there is one?   

GLUESING:   Oh my goodness, I have to say there are three of them in terms of being interesting and influential–

BRIODY:  Influential to the firms themselves or--

7oralhistory-1.jpgGLUESING:   To the firms and to me where there was a really influential project.  One was the fix-the-A-car project for GM because it really opened my eyes to culture in multiple forms, and, uh-- [Editor: The A car products included the Chevrolet Citation and related products sold as Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile.]

BRIODY:  Organizational culture, especially.  

GLUESING:  --right.  Organizational culture, especially.

BRIODY:  And they never did figure it out.  

GLUESING:  The new car problem.  (laughs)

BRIODY:  And the A-car is still an expensive--I mean, it was--

GLUESING:  --it was a giant, giant mess.  I mean the first month I was working there, my jaw was dragging on the ground, because my mouth was open so far. I could hardly believe what a mess it was it's like, "How do they get a car out the door?"  (laughs)

BRIODY:  Right.  Right. 

GLUESING:   And that was a really educational for me, and I think we actually did do something important in terms of communication in getting people into meetings, to really clarify,  much more than they ever did.  And there were times when we actually as communication consultants stop people--and had them explain, just like you're doing with me is stopping and naming, spelling out the acronyms and saying what things mean because there were so many acronyms as you know in the auto industry and every company as you know.

BRIODY:  Need a dictionary.  

GLUESING:   You need a dictionary.  You need a glossary to figure things out.  And many of the acronyms are the same but are used differently in different functions.  I think we helped with that. I think we had a big kind of a conference at the end of the project, and I think we at least made a dent in the collaboration and opened up channels that were not there before that engineering-wise and manufacturing-wise, the problems were too big to overcome but I think we did overcome a lot of the people problems.  Certainly not all of them, we made a dent.  (laughs)

BRIODY:  We made a dent.  Right.

GLUESING:   And in a company like GM, if you can make a little dent--(laughs)--

BRIODY:  That's a big deal. So the A-car was one that you really liked.  

GLUESING:   So that was one, then certainly my dissertation. 

BRIODY:  With Groupe Bull.  

GLUESING:   Absolutely.  That was a fantastic experience.  And it was influential: we made a film which ended up getting sold commercially and we designed a whole training program and then every team got training on French and American culture and what the French think of Americans, and what the Americans think of French. They learned that the word creative means different things, and if you really understand what's beneath that word and you understand that --being creative in the US in general, for them, was making stuff. Creating things.  Stuff.  But in France, it wasn't about stuff at all. It was about ideas.  Right.  And you of all people know that.  (laughs) So it was all about ideas.  And guess what?  If you put ideas and stuff together--(laughs)—you can really do something.  (laughs) So they stopped butting heads and really learned. I think team interactions were better.

BRIODY:  Right.  Exactly.  Alright, so those are the two.  And then you said one other.  

GLUESING:   The other one was the project that I did when I was in California for Bosch Healthcare Systems. Which was really also a very fun project to do, and it was global teams for me in the healthcare arena.  

BRIODY:  This is the one that you presented at the Triple A meetings. 

GLUESING:   And then I wrote this last little paper for it.

BRIODY:  And for the Journal of Business Anthropology, which is hopefully coming out sometime soon.  (laughs) 

GLUESING:   Sometime soon.  And the latest NSF grant the one that was--the Condor based one, but that one for me--while super interesting and exciting, didn't have quite as much anthropology in it and, cross-culturally, was more was more focused, German-US it wasn't as much cross-cultural. I really liked the cross-cultural stuff, you know.

BRIODY:  Right, every project is different.

GLUESING:  And there are global teams stuff, the global teams grant was also very interesting.

BRIODY:  Yeah, they're all interesting. 

GLUESING:  And I think that one was impactful for me; I don't know how much impactful it was for the companies, but it was impactful for me. But the Bosch one was impactful for me and the companies, and so were the other two.

BRIODY:  Which of your projects, seems to have attracted the most attention among anthropologists?  Because a lot of your projects obviously had a huge impact on the organizations for whom you were doing them. But now if we flip that question, what does it look like?  

GLUESING:  I don't know.  Maybe my dissertation, I think the three NSF projects I did had an impact on anthropology because I published about them in anthropology. And but I think in anthropology, the only one I really did the most work on in anthropology is probably my dissertation and I continued that into the global teams project. I used to teach that in a graduate  classes in anthropology. I would work with a business school and, they had global projects and the anthropologists would study the business teams. I was able to take anthropologists to Germany and as part of those classes, so I think I probably trained more business anthropologists in my classes. In the engineering management master's program they would work as teaching assistants, and they would do cultural work for me, but it was mostly in and around global teams and organizational cultures, so--

BRIODY:  I just want to stop you for a second because I find that really interesting.  That may say something more about where anthropology's head is at, then it does about your career.  Business anthropology, of course, is a growing area of interest and as evidenced by the fact that there's a big initiative coming for the current Triple-A meetings in November that is all about business anthropology for sessions and so on.  But I'm wondering if you could comment on the content of what your findings from your various projects may or may not mean to anthropology as a discipline.  

GLUESING:   (sighs) Certainly any anthropologist who wants to do applied anthropology needs to jump in and just start doing it. It doesn't matter whether you have a degree in it or not, it doesn't matter whether you get paid or not.  If you think you might want to do that, then, go do what I did and sit in a coffeehouse and watch people and see how you like that kind of observation, see how good you are at taking notes about that.  Practice it.  Think about what it means.  Think about what you might do with the information that you're gathering from those observations.  Doesn't matter where you do it or how you do it; if you're already working, you can do it in your own company.  It's not going to go anywhere but to you, you know.  It's private.

BRIODY:  It's a learning exercise.  

GLUESING:   It's a learning exercise.  And you can engage in those kinds of learning exercises anywhere, anytime.

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:   Right?  And the more practice you have with that, even before you get into any kind of formal classes, you can read some methodology books--there's some really good ones out there by and for practitioners and some written by anthropologists, some written by others who are ethnographers but not necessarily anthropologists. There's The Ethnographer's Toolkit--

BRIODY:  Right.  The seven-volume set--

GLUESING:   Seven-volume thing will teach you--everything you need to know.  

BRIODY:  Right, and I believe that's by Jay Schensul and Margaret LeCompte.  

GLUESING:  There's tons in there.  And you can teach yourself to do a lot of this, and at least get your feet wet before you decide you're going to go into applied anthropology. 

BRIODY:  Sure.  

GLUESING:   And it doesn't matter whether it's business anthropology or some other kind of  social entrepreneurship or nongovernmental organization. The skills transfer.  And the skill building helps give you a jump start, and you get more out of your classes.  Plus, you get used to doing that kind of work and you can talk informally to people, too.

BRIODY:  Sure.  Sure.

GLUESING:   Right.  And you ask their permission, right?  

BRIODY:  Exactly.  

GLUESING:   But that kind of thing you can do anywhere.  And then, I think certainly that anthropology programs need to put applied anthropology more front and center as a valid discipline and not look down on it, which they still do even in an applied program like the one at Wayne State.  There still is the looking down the nose at the applied folks.  And I don't see that going away anytime soon unless there's a major change--cultural change--that starts at the top of organizations like Triple A, and that filters out to all the anthropology programs, and the ways people are evaluated for promotion and tenure--

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:  --the ways people will get into those programs--all that infrastructure has to change.  

BRIODY:  It's a system-wide problem.  

GLUESING:   It's a systems problem.  And, uh, you know, applied anthropologists can talk about all the things that need to be done 'till they're blue in the face--

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:  --but it's a much, much larger systems problem than NAPA can solve by itself. --

BRIODY:  Which is the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, a section of the American Anthropological Association.  

GLUESING:  --or SfAA--Society for Applied Anthropology is not going to solve it by itself.  It's a much bigger systems problem.

BRIODY:  Sure.  

GLUESING:   But that doesn't mean that you cannot be a marvelous, applied anthropologist wherever you want to go it does not mean that you cannot have an academic career or a super business career or you cannot lead, you know, organizations like UNESCO--(laughs)—or whatever you decide you want to do, you make your opportunities and the more you hang out in the field that you're interested in--with people in the field you're interested in starting with the academic and applied conferences the more you're going to absorb and meet people, and doors will open.  

BRIODY:  Any other final remarks you'd like to make?

GLUESING:   I don't know if anybody would ever follow my path--(laughs)—but it's: Don't be afraid.  I guess I would say: Don't be afraid to not follow what you think is, quote-unquote, "the right path."

BRIODY:  For you.  

GLUESING:   Right.  Follow the path that suits you.  Follow your bliss. Don't be afraid to be interdisciplinary, which I am completely interdisciplinary.  Always have been.  Like living in the space.  I think I wrote an article about liminality--(laughter)--and for IJPA, too.  I love living in a liminal space because the possibilities are endless.

BRIODY:  Right.  

GLUESING:  And I, one of the skills that I found out that I possess is being a great liaison or bridge from one discipline to another, from practice to theory and back again, from academia to business, whatever it happens to be.  And I don't like being in any one of them completely because I feel a part of me is ignored if I'm in anyone.  

BRIODY:  Right, so you're a good bridge person.   

GLUESING:   I just like to be in the middle of it all.  (laughs)

BRIODY:  Yeah.  Well, thank you so much, Julia.  This has been a terrific interview.  I appreciate your time.   

GLUESING:   It's fun to talk about; I haven't thought about this stuff or talked about it for a long time.  


Further Reading

Gluesing, J. 1998. Building connections and balancing power in global teams: toward a reconceptualization of culture as composite. Anthropology of Work Review 18(2):18-30. 

Gluesing, J. et al. 2003 The development of global virtual teams. In Virtual teams that work: creating conditions for virtual team effectiveness. C.B. Gibson and S. Cohen, eds. Pp. 353-380. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Gluesing, J. and C. Gibson 2004 Designing and Forming Global Teams. In Handbook of Research on International Organizing and Managing. In H. Lane, M. Mendenhall ed. Pp. 199-226. Oxford: Blackwell.


Note on SfAA Oral History


Suggestions for persons to be interviewed can be sent to John van Willigen (johnvanwilligen@gmail.com) or 859-537-6553.


The audio records are archived at the Louis B. Nunn Center for Oral History of the University of Kentucky Libraries. There are about 185 interviews in the collection.

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