Kenneth David

  • Associate Professor
  • Core Faculty Asian Studies
  • Core Faculty Casid


Research Interests

    Organizational Anthropology, Social Movements, Transcultural Project Studies, Professional Applications of Anthropology (to Engineering, Medicine, and Business), and Religion and Culture.

Biographical Info

Dr. Kenneth David, Ph.D., M.B.A., teaches Organizational Anthropology and Trans-cultural Project Studies at Michigan State University. He received his B.A. (Honors) at Wesleyan University of Connecticut, his M.A. and Ph.D. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at the University of Chicago, and his M.B.A. in International Business and Business Policy at Michigan State University.

He has done Organizational Anthropology research in China, France, Germany, Holland, India, Mexico, South Korea, Sri Lanka and the United States. His theoretical direction, transcultural project studies, is an anthropological reconsideration of management and communications studies.

He focuses on relationships that span organizational boundaries (acquisitions, joint ventures, long-term consulting relationships, and strategic alliances). In these relationships, performance is strongly affected by cultural, power, and communication issues as well as by strategic, economic, and technical issues.

Further boundary-spanning research deals with engineering project activities— geographically-dispersed (3 continents, 8 countries) and culturally-disparate teams of engineers doing co-designed (outsourced) projects. The International Teams for Engineering and Design [INTEnD] education program accompanying this research earned the Innovation in Engineering Education award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the AT&T Award for hybrid course (face-to-face plus computer mediated communication).

Further research attends to social, ethical, and environmental issues that impact on emerging technology. This work led to the publication in 2008 of “What can Nanotechnology learn from Biotechnology: Social and Ethnical Lessons for Nanoscience from the Debate over Agrifood Biotechnology and GMOs.”

Current research builds on previous work. Proposed NSF funded research on geographically-dispersed teamwork among scientists on nano-membranes for water purification. Research is underway on cultural and power issues affecting communication among medical specialists.


Recent Publications: Books
  • 2008 David, K. and P.B. Thompson, Eds. (2008) What Can Nanotechnology Learn from Biotechnology? Food Science and Technology International Series. Boston, MA: Elsevier. 343 pages
  • Recent Publications: Chapters in Books
  • 2008   David, K.  Analytic Introduction: Lessons from Biotechnology for Nanotechnology.  In What Can Nanotechnology Learn from Biotechnology?  K. David and P.B. Thompson (eds.)  Boston, MA: Elsevier.  Pp. 3-30.
  • 2008   Geerlings, H. and K. David. Engagement and Translation: Perspective of a Natural Scientist.  In What Can Nanotechnology Learn from Biotechnology? K. David and P.B. Thompson (eds.)  Boston, MA: Elsevier.  Pp. 188-220.
  • 2003   David, K. and J.R. Lloyd.  Tools for organizational learning and organizational teaching: learning and communicating about collaboration in dispersed engineering design projects.  In The Collaborative Work Systems Fieldbook: Strategies, Tools, and Techniques.  G. Klein, J. Nemiro, M. Beyerlein, C. McGee, and L. Broedling (eds.)  Denton, TX: Jossey-Bass.
  • Recent Publications: Articles in Refereed Journals
  • 2006   Wolf, A. K.; David, K.; and J. Sherry  “It Depends on Where You Sit: Anthropologists’ Involvement with Nanotechnology in Government, University, and Industry Settings.” Practicing Anthropology 28(2)
  • Recent Presentations
  • 2007   David, K.  Power and (Mis) communication: Learning and Communicating about Collaboration in Dispersed Engineering Project Teams.  Industrial-Organizational Psychology Program 2007 Brown Bag Series. October 19th, 2007 Michigan State University.
  • 2007   David, K. Engineering across Borders: Improving the Effectiveness of Globally Distributed Design Teams with attention to strategic, cultural, and power issues. American Society for Quality, St. Joseph, MI, October 4th, 2007.
  • 2007   Busch, L. and David, K. “Wherefore art thou Agrifood Nanotech?  Participation, Governance, Supply Chains, and Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe, Summer 2007.” Reported to Agrifood Nanotech Research Team: 13 August 2007.
  • 2007   David, K. Participation and Translation: key issues in product introductions.  Panel: Making ethics visible: participation, governance, and corporate social responsibility.  Organized by K. David,  Foodsmarts, Institute of Food Technologists, Annual Meeting and Food Expo, Chicago. July 28th -August 1st.
  • 2007   David, K. “Participation and Translation: key issues in product introductions”.  Workshop on Nano Food and Safety, organized by the Rathenau Institut and convened at Ministry of Agriculture of the Netherlands.  The Hague, Netherlands: 13 June 2007.
  • 2007   L. Busch and K. David.  “Translation and Engagement: Theory modified for application to communications during technology innovation.”  The Department of Marketing & Consumer behavior and Department of Organizational Studies.  Wageningen University, the Netherlands: 7 June 2007.
  • 2006   David, K.  “Engineering Across Borders: Improving the Effectiveness of Globally Distributed Design Team with Attention to Strategic, Cultural, and Power Issues”.  the Small Motor Association (SMMA).  Palm Beach, FL: 11 May 2006.
  • 2006   David, K. “Standards for Nanotechnologies: A Workshop.”  NIRT Agrifood Nanotechnology Group, Michigan State University.  East Lansing, MI: 11-12 September 2006.
  • 2006   David, K. “Socio-Technical Analysis:  Key issues facing those concerned with nano-science, nano-technologies, governance, and  social acceptance.”  The Food and Drug Administration Public Meeting.  Bethesda, MD: 10 October 2006
  • 2006   David, K.  “Socio-Technical Analysis: The Economic, Social, and Legal Implications of RFIDs.”  MSU faculty members working on RFID research sponsored by the MSU Cyber Security Intiative and the Intellectual Property and Communications Law Program.  East Lansing, MI: 17 October 2006.
  • 2006   David, K. “Socio-Technical Analysis: Nano Uncertainties – Risk, Recursion, and Liminality in Near-Future Technologies.”  the Society for Social Studies of Science annual meeting.  Vancouver, Canada: 2 November 2006.
  • 2006   David, K.; Lloyd J.R.; and Stone, J. “Charting a Multi-Stakeholder Issues Landscape for Nanotechnology Standards Development.  Agrifood Nanotech Series, Michigan State University.  East Lansing, MI: 1 December 2006.
  • 2005   David, K.  Nanotechnology in Society Panel.  Society for Applied Anthropology.  Santa Fe, NM: 10 April 2005.
  • 2005   Lloyd, J.R.; David, K.; and Hinds, T.   “Innovation in the Americas.”  the Pan-American Conference, University of Texas-Pan American.  McAllen, TX: 15 April 2005.
  • 2005   David, K. “Outsourcing: Outperforming or Outrageous?”  Presented to the Annual International Appliance Technical Conference and Exhibition.  Rosemont, IL: 29 March 2005.
  • 2005   David, K. “Setting Nano-Fears and Nano-Benefits in Context: Powers and Representation.”  First Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards International Conference on Nanotechnology, Michigan State University.  East Lansing, MI: 21 October 2005.
  • 2005   David, K.; Lloyd, J.R.; and Hinds, T. “Power and Communication: Solving power problems through effective communication in globally distributed engineering design teams.” IMECE Conference.  Orlando, FL: 9 November 2005.
  • 2005   David, K., J. R. Lloyd, and T.J. Hinds, “Power and Communication: Solving Power Problems for Collaboration in Globally Distributed Engineering Design Teams. IMECE2005-80060. Proceedings of IMECE 05. 2005 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. November 5-11, 2005 Orlando, Florida USA. Published on CD issued by IMECE.
  • 2004   Lloyd, J.R., T.J. Hinds, K. David, M. J. Chung, M. Gonzalez, and D. Timmer, “INTEnD: A Dispersed Design Team Approach for the Globalization of Engineering Educations.”  2004   David, K and V. Merk (2004) “Power and (mis-) Communication: Learning and Communicating about Collaboration in Dispersed Teams.”  Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research. Berlin, Germany.
  • 2004   David, K.; Lloyd, J.R.; and Griffith, V. “Success Factors for Engineering Design Projects that Involve Geographically Dispersed Teams.” 55th Annual International Appliance Technical Conference and Exhibition.  Lexington, KY: 29 March 2004.
  • 2004   Lloyd, J.R.; Hinds, T.; and David, K. “Experiences with Teaching Mass Customization in Dispersed Engineering Design Teams.”  Institute of Industrial Engineering Annual Research Conference.  Houston, TX: 15-19 May 2004.
  • 2003   David, K. “Introduction.”  Workshop Proceeding: Mass Customization of Products and Services in North/South Maquilla Industry, University of Texas Pan-American.  McAllen, TX: 24 March 2003.
  • 2003   Steinfeld, C.; David, K.; and Huysman, M.  “Virtual Teams and the Appropriation of Communication Technology: Exploring the Concept of Media Stickiness.”  The Journal of collaborative Computing (Special Issues:  Evolving Use of Groupware in Computer Supported Cooperative Work).
  • 2003   David, K. “Effective Communication in the Mass Customization Supply Chain.”Workshop Proceeding: Mass Customization of Products and Services in North/South Maquilla Industry, University of Texas Pan-American.  McAllen, TX: 24 March 2003.
  • 2001   David, K. “Guest Lecture on Transcultural Communications for Dispersed Engineering Teams.”  Presented to Tsinghua University.  Beijing, China: July 2001.
  • 2001   David, K. “Workshop on Transcultural Communication in a Globalizing World.” Presented to Donna Winslow’s Globalization class at the Vrije Universiteit.  Amsterdam, the Netherlands: 12 September 2001.
  • 2001   David, K.  “Workshop on Managing Cultural Differences and Transcultural Incident Reporting.”  For Mercui-Urval b.v. of the Netherlands.  Amersfoort, the Netherlands: 13-14 September 2001.
  • 2001   David, K. and J.R. Lloyd “Educational Practices for Improving the Effectiveness of Globally Distributed Engineering Design Teams.”  Session: Successes in Mechanical Engineering Design Education IMECE Congress Proceedings.  14 November 2001.
  • Dept. of Anthropology