Monday 21 March 2011

KM and national culture 2 - Australia, Africa

Continuing the series of blog posts on KM and national culture

self portrait 6Australia
The Australians are very open to knowledge sharing, and to learning lessons from past performance; good or bad. They have a very open culture and are happy to challenge authority and orthodoxy. The tendency to avoid appearing to ‘show off’ may make an Australian unwilling to volunteer a success or an innovation, and your Knowledge Management program should ensure that learnings from success and innovation are actively and proactively sought (eg through AARs) rather than waiting for them to be volunteered. The storytelling tradition is strong in Australia, and storytelling will be a key component in any effective Australian KM system. Communities of practice based on sharing stories will thrive, perhaps more effectively than more formal programs.

South African SmilesSouth Africa
Africa is a continent of very many cultures. In many African countries, the culture of oral story-telling is very ancient, and can easily be used in support of KM. South African society is an interesting mixture of ubuntu (which values the collective whole ‘I am because we are’) with a strongly competitive spirit, which all rugby fans will recognise. Together these attributes create an interesting environment in which KM should flourish, provided that competition is turned externally. Internal competition can too easily thrive in tough Afrikaaner organisations, which will very effectively derail Knowledge Management, and this needs to be treated with great care. The political drive for employment equity introduces a real need for knowledge management, with knowledge needing to be passed to previously politically disadvantaged groups, on a large scale.


Anonymous said...

Nick -

Have you had a look at the work done by Bhagat et al in 2002 on knowledge sharing and national culture? See my summary - and my take on Aussie culture - here:

- Keith De La Rue

Nick Milton said...

Thanks Keith - excellent blog post, and a very good amplification on the Australian culture when it comes to knowledge sharing

I like Bhagat's graph

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