Saturday, November 26, 2005

Culture and how it will influence CoPs

The last onion: how might national cultural dimensions influence the functioning of a CoP in that country?

Hofstede lists countries with a high uncertainty avoidance and explains that in these countries it might be harder for people with opposing convictions to be friends. So in CoPs in countries with high uncertainty avoidance (Guatamala, Uruguay, Portugal, Greece, France, Belgium, etc) it may be more difficult (in general, in can imagine there are professional sub-cultures!) to get people to explore their diverging views on practice and get a healthy level of diversity. Hence, CoPs in these countries may tend to go for more formalisation than in countries with low uncertainty avoidance where CoPs may remain more informal and organic?

I'm wondering how a high collectivist dimension would influence the functioning of a CoP. People of highly collectivist national cultures tend to find their identity in their social network, so would easily identify with a CoP but keep their other strong social identities. These cultures tend to go for harmony and avoid direct confrontation. So this might make it harder to stimulate diversity of views and as a result the innovative capacities of the CoP.

One interesting point on organisations is that organisational cultures are not determined by values of its employees but rather by shared practices. Factors like nationality, age, education, etc. are more important to determine a person's values rather than the organisation they work in. Yet values of the founders do play a role in determining the practices within the organisation.

Tough to think this through, hope to find more practical examples!

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