Monday 15 September 2014

KM thought leaders - are they REALLY all from the USA?

Stan Garfield has produced an excellent and comprehensive list of Knowledge Management thought leaders, available here.  But how representative is this list in global terms?

As I read through the list, I was firstly very pleased to see my name there, and also my colleague Tom Young (you always look for your own name first, right?). And I was also pleased to see many old friends and respected acquaintances on the list, such as Kent Greenes, Nancy Dixon, Larry Prusak, Richard McDermott, Etienne Wenger, and many more.

But then I began to notice that the list was largely US-dominated.

63% of the thought leaders on the list are based in the USA.  If you include Canada, that rises to 72%. If you include the UK and Australia (the large English speaking industrial nations) you hit 92%.

Is this real?

Do all the KM thought leaders speak English? And are the majority of them located in the USA?

If so, then why?


I cross-checked Stan's though-leader list with a second list, quoted on Denham Grey's blog, from a thesis by Alex Bennet.

This list is even more USA-dominated, with 71% of the names being based in the USA.

There are fewer names on this list from the UK (my name, and Toms, are both missing); fewer from Australia or Canada, but some extra names from Finland, Mexico, Poland and South Africa.

So who and where are the real thought leaders?

The first question needs to be "What is a thought leader"?

Traditionally a thought leader is someone who has an early and long involvement with a topic, writing some of the key books on the topic. We know that the USA, Canada and Western Europe were earlier on the scene in KM terms than most other regions - Japan being the exception - so it is no surprise the standard texts were in English, and largely from the USA.

But if we search the Knowledge Management texts to find the leading authors, do we also search for "Gestion del Conocimiento", "Gestion des Connaisances", "Wissensmanagement" and so on? Are the Anglophones among us even aware of KM thought leaders in other cultures?

And is it just the early authors that are the thought leaders? You can lead thought in other ways than just writing books.

What do you think?

I could suggest a few extra names for Stan's list - names such as Madanmohan Rao in India, for example, or Prof Eric Tsui in Hong Kong - but I thought it might be better to see what you think.

Who would you put into a Knowledge Management thought-leader's list?

Let me know through the Comments

1 comment:

Knowledgable 1 said...

My vote is Dave Snowden. He's the KM Papa Bear, I think.

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