Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Osarumwense Iguisi (University of Benin, Nigeria) and Osaro Rawlings Igbinomwanhia (University of Benin, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch436
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Abstract

This conceptual paper draws attention to the relevance of cultures to management philosophy with the purpose of contributing to a culturally viable practice of management in Africa. It has been shown that the different management theories in the form that they have been developed in the West may not fit culturally in Africa. However, in developing theories and building models of management theories in Africa, it is unlikely to pay Africans to throw away all that the West has to offer. Rather, the process of appropriate management theorizing should be to reflect on the assumptions of Western management theories, compare Western assumptions about social and cultural values with African cultural values and rebuild the theories or models through experimentation. The use of anthropological and philosophical concepts in this context will help in development of appropriate management practice.
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Background

Culture Stabilization Patterns

The model of Figure 1, taken from Iguisi and Hofstede (1993), indicates how we sassume culture patterns in a country to stabilize themselves through feedback loops, but also to change under the influence of outside forces.

Figure 1.

The stabilization of culture patterns

Source: Iguisi and Hofstede (1993, p. 3)

The system of this model in Figure 1 implies that one cannot understand one element-such as, management practice philosophy within the local environment-without its societal and cultural value context.

In the center is a system of societal norms, consisting of the value systems shared by major groups of the population. Their origins are in a variety of ecological factors (in the sense of factors affecting the physical environment). The societal norms have led to the development and pattern maintenance of institutions in society with a particular philosophy, structure and way of functioning. These include the family, education systems, politics, and legislation. These institutions, once they have become facts, reinforce the societal norms and the ecological conditions that led to them. According to Hofstede, in a relatively closed society, such a system will hardly change at all. Institutions may change, but this does not necessarily affect the societal norms; and when these remain unchanged, the persistence influence of a majority value system patiently smooth the new institutions until their structure and functioning is again adapted to the societal norms. Change comes mainly from the outside, through forces of nature (change of climate, silting up of harbors) or forces of man (trade, colonization, scientific discovery) (Hofstede, 1980). The arrow of outside influences is deliberately directed at the origins, not at the societal norms themselves. It is believed that norms change rarely by direct adoption of outside values, but rather through a shift in ecological conditions: technological, economical, and hygienic. In general, the norm shift will be gradual unless the outside influences are particularly violent (Hofstede, 1980a).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Values: Important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. They are what the civilized and rational minds cherish, esteem, price preciously and have inclined attitude for. They are principles or standards of a person or society for the good or benefit of the person or the society concerned.

Indigenous: Traditions; social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct to a particular group of people or society. Indigenous beliefs, systems and knowledge of practices for the sustainable management of resources.

Culture: The interactive aggregate of common characteristics that influence a human group’s response to its environment, determines the identity of a human group in the same way as personality determines the identity of an individual.

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