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Book part
Publication date: 3 September 2021

Ndungi wa Mungai

The word Ubuntu has become widely known around the world as an African humanitarian wisdom that promotes international solidarity and Indigenous knowledge. The appeal of

Abstract

The word Ubuntu has become widely known around the world as an African humanitarian wisdom that promotes international solidarity and Indigenous knowledge. The appeal of Ubuntu,as an African traditional philosophy is the emphasis on concern for fellow human beings. The primary aim of this critical literature review is to demonstrate the role Ubuntu can play in enriching social work and shifting the Euro-American foundations of the profession in teaching diaspora African students and practicing social work with diaspora African communities. The humanitarian values of Ubuntu, however, need not be limited to Africans.

This chapter explores how Ubuntu can be adopted in teaching social work and also enriching social work theoretical underpinnings. Social work has roots in Western philosophical foundations and cultural experiences, with a primary focus on supporting disadvantaged people in communities where it is practiced.However, there is a recognised need to expand this Western orientation to include other views as social work expands to be a global academic and practice profession.

An approach to learning and teaching based on Ubuntu has been described as ‘Ubuntugogy’ (Bangura, 2005). Ubuntugogy represents a holistic educational paradigm where education plays a role beyond an individual’s acquisition of knowledge and skills but instead aims at total development for the individual scholar, their community and their physical and social environment. Social work education is aimed at equipping students with the skills to contribute to the welfare of other human beings in the same way Ubuntugogy recognises the importance of mastering skills to transform individual learners and their communities. Both are therefore focused on practical education to create a world that meets the needs of the individuals and their communities.

Ubuntu approaches view education as a means for struggle for survival and liberation from oppression. There are similar approaches in education literature that emphasise the cultural and historical aspects of education (Lave, 2019). Ubuntu philosophy has roots in African traditions and history that also have clear echoes in other traditional societies that emphasise interdependence and relationships between people and their physical world in an intricate web of life.

Social work can learn from Ubuntu if it is to move beyond its traditional Western roots. Ubuntu and social work share the commonality of concern for human welfare. Ubuntu goes a step further in emphasising the intricate linkages between humans and nature in a non-hierarchical web. Social work can also enrich Ubuntu with its body of knowledge, accumulated since the late 19th century, in practical application of the identified Ubuntu ideals. This chapter presents an attempt at such a dialogue.

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Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: The Context of Being, Interculturality and New Knowledge Systems
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-007-5

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Article
Publication date: 26 March 2021

Mia Mangaroo-Pillay and Rojanette Coetzee

The purpose of this study is to enhance the understanding of Japanese Lean management principles in South African contexts using Ubuntu, to improve buy-in during Lean…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to enhance the understanding of Japanese Lean management principles in South African contexts using Ubuntu, to improve buy-in during Lean implementation.

Design/methodology/approach

A scoping systematic literature review (SLR) was used to investigate the correlations and variations between Lean management principles and Ubuntu management principles.

Findings

Both similarities and differences were discovered between Ubuntu and Lean. It was noted that Lean adopts principles that do not have corresponding Ubuntu principles, such as levelling out workload, continuous process flow, stopping to fix the problem and visual management.

Research limitations/implications

While this research only used a South African concept (Ubuntu) to develop a novel Lean analogy, future research could be pursued in a similar vein for other countries outside of Japan.

Practical implications

The similarities could assist in “translating” Lean concepts to a South African context, ergo improving the understanding of the Lean principles and possibly contributing to more successful Lean implementations.

Originality/value

To the researcher’s knowledge at time of publication, this study is the first comparison of these two management philosophies. Ergo, the Lean–Ubuntu analogy is a novel comparison of Lean.

Details

International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-4166

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Book part
Publication date: 8 July 2021

Medhanie Gaim and Stewart Clegg

That life is inundated with constant push–pull between contradictory demands is indisputable. Different traditions and worldviews inform individuals’ approaches to dealing…

Abstract

That life is inundated with constant push–pull between contradictory demands is indisputable. Different traditions and worldviews inform individuals’ approaches to dealing with the ensuing paradoxes. However, the literature has focused on Western and Eastern philosophies and traditions, while disregarding others such as the Afrocentric. In this chapter, the authors explore Ubuntu, an Afrocentric tradition, as an alternative philosophical underpinning that can inform the nature of paradoxes. Doing so enriches the understanding, problematizing and managing of paradoxes. Central to Ubuntu is otherness: the emphasis on the need of the other that implies focusing on the other; in doing so, the polarities of diverse needs are accommodated, striving for an ultimate goal of harmony. Moreover, the authors elaborate on the hybrid space where collapsing the East–West and the West and non-west dualism allow engagement with a multiplicity of worldviews. In so doing, the authors expand paradox theorizing beyond the orthodoxy of East and West antinomies and challenge the basic assumption in paradox management by asking the question: what if we start from others’ demands?

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Interdisciplinary Dialogues on Organizational Paradox: Learning from Belief and Science, Part A
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-184-7

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Article
Publication date: 16 January 2020

Florence Nansubuga and John C. Munene

The knowledge management (KM) models in the African organisations are influenced by the interplay between human agents from diverse societies whose experiences, values…

Abstract

Purpose

The knowledge management (KM) models in the African organisations are influenced by the interplay between human agents from diverse societies whose experiences, values, contextual information and insights that are perceived controversial in Africa. The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the indigenous assumptions related to knowledge and its management in Africa and the perceived contradictions in the existing models by adopting the Ubuntu philosophy.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used a perspective lens to examine the existing management practices and propose an integrated framework that is appropriate for the utilisation of the Ubuntu epistemic knowledge management practices and at the same time provide highlights on the perceived paradoxes and how they can be managed to improve knowledge management and people management in African societies.

Findings

The inductive posteriori knowledge approach is perceived to be dynamic, applicable and more desirable in the African societies as it allows organisational managers and their work teams to embrace knowledge construction, dependent on experiences in form of stories and metaphors that demonstrate successful work samples. The Ubuntu dramaturgical knowledge management approach adds value to the posteriori knowledge by refining the rhetoric stories and metaphors into empirical performance scripts that are tailored to the audiences’ expectations.

Research limitations/implications

The paper adapted a perspective view to explain knowledge management; therefore, it was not possible to provide empirical data on the metaphysical and dramaturgical elements that are assumed to influence knowledge management in Africa. However, based on theoretical analysis, the authors have proposed a coherent knowledge management framework based on the interaction between posteriori KM assumptions and Ubuntu dramaturgy.

Practical implications

Ubuntu ideology has been appreciated since it treasures interdependency and interconnectedness among people. Therefore, collaborating partners working in Africa would be expected to act as interdependent agents, whereby this interdependency is perceived as an integral part of the knowledge management process. The proposed Ubuntu knowledge management model is grounded on the posteriori knowledge approach which assumes that experience is the source of knowledge. Through social interactions and experiences sharing, organisational members can create new processes, innovative technologies and dynamic context based performance scripts that can drive productivity.

Social implications

The authors concluded that a coherent framework that is tailored to social interactions and contextual needs of the people and their communities can promote productive knowledge and knowledge management systems in the African contexts. Moreover knowledge management requires one to acknowledge the complexity of Ubuntu ideology in a sense that it recognises the past experiences and contributions of the diverse individuals in the same community/organisation.

Originality/value

This paper focused on examining how the Ubuntu philosophy can promote knowledge development and management strategies that are tailored to social and contextual needs of the organisations in Africa to curtail the perceived paradoxes in the existing knowledge management models.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2010

Khali Victor Mofuoa1

Goulet (1996) declared that a new paradigm of development is clearly in gestation. Such paradigm centers on human development as an end, with economic development as the…

Abstract

Goulet (1996) declared that a new paradigm of development is clearly in gestation. Such paradigm centers on human development as an end, with economic development as the means (UNDP, 1994). In fact, the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), identify human development as a key to social and economic progress. Indeed, MDGs have become a universal framework for development, and a means for developing countries and their partners to work together in pursuit of a shared future for all. However, from all indications, developing countries, particularly in Africa, are not on target on any of the goals. In order to achieve the MDGs, developing countries are urged to mobilize additional resources and break with business as usual syndrome. Thus the challenge of the MDGs underscores the need for Africa to wake up and exploit the opportunities that “Botho” can offer in the continent’s quest for a “second independence” (Ake, 2001; Nnoli, 2003) and/or a “second liberation” (Nnaemeka, 2009) from protracted development crisis of the modern history. Such a need, however, according to Tambulasi and Kayuni (2005) begs the question: Can African feet divorce Western shoes? Of course, there is a wider list of thoughts to be produced on that topic. The paper intends to reflect on “Botho” as a resource for a just and sustainable economy towards Africa’s development path in modern history.

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World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-5961

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2005

Luchien Karsten and Honorine Illa

To explore how an increasing attention which is being paid to language and culture in organisations can help people to understand the impact of particular management…

Abstract

Purpose

To explore how an increasing attention which is being paid to language and culture in organisations can help people to understand the impact of particular management concepts in business practices.

Design/methodology/approach

A range of publications has been selected to indicate how important language in organisations is and how particular cultural backgrounds influence the applicabilty of management concepts. This has been illustrated with the concept Ubuntu, which gains popularity in South Africa.

Findings

The applicabilty of Ubuntu in companies will rely on the habitus of the manager to be a good conversationalist.

Originality/value

So far the Western literature about management knowledge has neglected the development of particular management concepts originating in other parts of the world.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 20 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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Article
Publication date: 17 November 2014

Khali Mofuoa

This paper aims to explore, with the view to establish the prospects of applying Ubuntu-Botho African approach to stakeholder corporate social responsibility (CSR) for…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore, with the view to establish the prospects of applying Ubuntu-Botho African approach to stakeholder corporate social responsibility (CSR) for business organisations in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the experience of Basotho of Lesotho in using Ubuntu-Botho African principles and practices to pursue their socially responsible development fashioned in social responsibility (SR) terms.

Design/methodology/approach

Using data mainly from desktop research, the theoretical or conceptual content of the paper was established to inform the discussions on the prospects of applying Ubuntu-Botho African principles and practices to stakeholder CSR for business organisations in SSA.

Findings

Ubuntu-Botho African approach to stakeholder CSR could generate a very different notion of ideal SR of business organizations in the context of SSA as the experience of Basotho of Lesotho reveals. Whether or not one is persuaded by this Ubuntu-Botho approach to stakeholder CSR, the discussion serves to illuminate the need to broaden the terms of the debate over the appropriate role of business organizations, at least in the context of SSA, regarding their CSR and performance within which they operate.

Originality/value

The paper mainly uses secondary data that is considered to be most relevant, valid and reliable to inform discussions on the prospects of the application of Ubuntu-Botho African ethics to stakeholder CSR for business organisations in the context of SSA. The author’s knowledge of Lesotho – where he lived, studied and worked – informed the writing of this paper, as well as discussions on the prospects of applying Ubuntu-Botho African approach to stakeholder CSR for business organisations in SSA using the experience of Basotho of Lesotho in engineering their socially responsible development to become the granary of Southern Africa in 1900s.

Details

Management Research: The Journal of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management, vol. 12 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1536-5433

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Article
Publication date: 24 June 2019

Kwame Asamoah and Emmanuel Yeboah-Assiamah

Leadership and governance are all about “people” and the “common welfare”. Africans have an Ubuntu philosophy which culturally calls on individuals to promote the welfare…

Abstract

Purpose

Leadership and governance are all about “people” and the “common welfare”. Africans have an Ubuntu philosophy which culturally calls on individuals to promote the welfare of collective society. It is therefore paradoxical to note how African leaders and governance regimes perform poorly when it comes to the usage of public resources to create conditions for collective human welfare. Why do leaders instead of championing societal advancement rather advance their selfish, egoistic and sectional interests? This study aims to unpack a prevalent paradox and discuss a new approach of linking the rich Ubuntu philosophy to Africa’s governance and leadership discourse.

Design/methodology/approach

This study discusses from secondary sources of data, mainly drawn from journal articles, internet sources and scholarly books relevant to leadership and public administration in developing African countries and how Ubuntu African philosophy can be deployed to ensure leadership ethos. In attempt to obtain a more comprehensive and systematic literature review, the search covered all terms and terminologies relevant to the objective of the study. The search process mainly comprised four categories of keywords. The first category involved the concept as approximately related to leadership: “leadership and civic culture”, “Ubuntu culture” and “African collectivist culture”. For the final category, words such as “crisis”, “failure” and “experiences” were used.

Findings

This study contends that the preponderance of corruption and poor leadership in Africa is anti-cultural, anti-human, anti-ethical and anti-African; hence, those individuals who indulge or encourage leadership paralysis are not “true Africans” by deeds but merely profess to be. Linking the African Ubuntu philosophy to public leadership, the study maintains that the hallmark of public leadership and governance is to develop the skills of all and caring for the society.

Practical implications

This study draws attention to the need for leaders to espouse virtues so that leadership becomes a tool to promote societal welfare. The hallmark of public leadership and governance is to develop the skills of all and caring for the society. It involves weighing and balancing professional and legal imperatives within a democratic and ethical context with an ultimate responsibility to the people and public interest. It is not a responsibility to a particular set of citizens, but a commitment to be just and equitable to all. The preponderance of corruption and bad leadership is anti-cultural, anti-human, anti-ethical and anti-African; hence, individuals who indulge or encourage leadership paralysis are not true Africans by deeds but merely profess to be.

Originality/value

This study draws a clear link between indigenous African cultural value system and ethical public leadership. It draws congruence between Africa's Ubuntu philosophy of civic virtue and Africa's leadership/governance. This will bring about a renewal of thoughts and practice of public leadership on the continent, as it has been demonstrated that a true African seeks collective social welfare and not selfish interest.

Details

Journal of Global Responsibility, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2041-2568

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Book part
Publication date: 1 January 2008

Esinath Ndiweni

Purpose – The paper attempts to locate the debate on corporate governance in a social and cultural context.Methodology – It draws on the traditional African philosophy of…

Abstract

Purpose – The paper attempts to locate the debate on corporate governance in a social and cultural context.

Methodology – It draws on the traditional African philosophy of ubuntu and articulates how this might affect corporate governance frameworks. The paper utilises multiple methods that include interviews, a review of documents, and case studies. It analyses incidents from across Southern Africa that demonstrate how notions of ubuntu influence corporate practices.

Findings – The incidents in selected organisations reveal how multinational corporations are involved in the delivery of social welfare programmes to their employees and local communities. Such practices underscore the differences in perceptions about corporate social responsibility in the West and Southern Africa.

Practical implications – It highlights the implications of these practices for multinational corporations and auditors who do business in Southern Africa.

Originality – The paper argues that ubuntu informs corporate practices and influences perceptions on what constitutes ‘good’ corporate governance and ethics in Southern Africa. Finally, it proposes an alternative corporate governance framework informed by ubuntu, communitarianism, and stakeholder theories. Arguably, such a corporate governance framework will take into account the social and historical context of Southern Africa.

Research limitations – The proposed corporate governance framework might suit only those communities who subscribe to ubuntu values and communitarianism.

Details

Corporate Governance in Less Developed and Emerging Economies
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-252-4

Abstract

Details

Global and Culturally Diverse Leaders and Leadership
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-495-0

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