Foundations of Cross-Cultural Knowledge Management

Foundations of Cross-Cultural Knowledge Management

Nhu T. B Nguyen (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan) and Katsuhiro Umemoto (Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch121

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Knowledge Management (KM) has been developed since the early 1990s by both researchers and practitioners. It is not surprising to KM researchers that the relationship between Knowledge Management (KM) and Cross-Cultural Management (CCM) started to be widely studied, since globalization has become a keen interest in every study on management. As such, we looked into this relationship, and recognized that the term Cross-Cultural Knowledge Management (CCKM) can be understood in two ways. In one sense, CCKM is used to describe knowledge management in a cross-cultural environment, such as how multi-national companies manage knowledge processes, or how international joint-ventures share, acquire, and transfer knowledge effectively. In another sense, we explored the idea that CCKM may refer to the management of cross-cultural knowledge (Nguyen, Umemoto & Medeni, 2007; Nguyen & Umemoto, 2009). To elaborate this new sense, we explained the perception culture as knowledge by discussing several cross-cultural perspectives, including third culture, cultural synergy, cultural hybrid, cultural change, cultural intelligence, cultural competence, cultural diversity, and cultural knowledge, which match the concept of knowledge in the literature (Nguyen et al., 2008).

With the perception culture as knowledge, we adopted the term “Cross-Cultural Knowledge Management”, to refer to the management and the creation of a new culture adept at adjusting to cultural differences. The question is raised: What are the stages that characterize the process of cross-cultural knowledge creation? To answer this question, we suggested a theoretical model of CCKM based on Martin’s (2002) cultural perspectives, including fragmentation, integration and differentiation. We used the term “acculturation” to describe the creation of a new culture, which includes values added from two or various cultures, adapted to the cross-cultural environment, as the last stage of the cross-cultural knowledge creation process. We also explained why cross-cultural knowledge creation is a spiral, from which KM can be improved and enhanced. Moreover, we also considered the further question whether leadership has any role in CCKM, since leadership has an important role in both CCM and KM, and CCKM is the combination of CCM and KM. Therefore, we continue to seek answers to this question. Using the literature of leadership, we argued the influence of leadership on each factor of our proposed theoretical model of CCKM (Nguyen & Umemoto, 2009).

Because of this book’s emphasis on social knowledge, this chapter generally seeks to provide a meaningful description of the positive position of cross-cultural knowledge, as a kind of social knowledge in the current context of globalization, which has become unprecedented. Recently, people often work in international companies, departments, and teams. We believe that this study establishes the major foundation of CCKM, serving as a new discipline which is partially drawn from constructs developed in the disciplines of KM and CCM. It is important to develop this discipline in understandable terms, illustrating the nature of the cross-cultural knowledge creation process and the roles of leadership in this process.

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