A Cross-Cultural and Institutional Approach
Edited by Kate Hutchings and Kavoos Mohannak
Chapter 10: Latin American Cultural Values and their Impact on Knowledge
management Luis Felipe Calderón-Moncloa INTRODUCTION Management theories coming from industrialised countries flow between borders and continents very easily. What is not easy to understand is the undesirable direct and side effects that the application of those theories can have, when naive academicians and managers try to implant them without taking into account all the cultural complexities involved. When implanted in a power-oriented culture, like our Latin American organisational culture, concepts like participative management and flatter organisations acquire different connotations from those originally intended. If managers try to practise participative management, they might create confusion among employees who feel that it is inappropriate for the boss to share responsibilities with the subordinates, and thus the managers may lose some authority in the process. In a similar manner, managers can use re-engineering, downsizing, outsourcing and flatter organisations as excuses to fire employees for the sake of budget savings, resulting in fewer employees and longer hours without extra compensation. This situation is highly common in Latin America now. My intention in this chapter is to introduce the Latin American environment and culture and try to explain the general blockages that Latin American managers experience when trying to implant knowledge management (KM) recommendations into the organisations. A note of caution before proceeding to the analysis – an implicit paradigm that permeates some of the academic analysis is a Western-centric biased vision, implying that theories coming from Western academia are the correct ones and that third world organisations are wrong if they fail to adopt...
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