I am because we are – the contribution of the Ubuntu philosophy to intercultural management thinking

Adelheid Iken, Fidele Mutwarasibo


Intercultural management calls for a global mindset among managers and employees alike and thus people who are open, ready to learn and willing to step outside their own base culture. This type of mindset can provide a fertile backdrop upon which international actors can enlarge their repertoire of management tools and thus their ability to act appropriately in an increasingly globally interconnected business environment.

In this paper, we argue that Ubuntu, a philosophy generally perceived as Sub-Saharan African, has much to offer in this context. Therefore, if intercultural management thinking is to consider ‘Western’ as well as ‘non-Western’ approaches to management, then we propose that Ubuntu should be integrated into current theories. Ubuntu is particularly relevant since it provides a counterbalance to individualistic and utilitarian philosophies that tend to dominate in the ‘West’.

The purpose of this paper is thus to expand the understanding of Ubuntu and discuss how the values related to this philosophy can be applied in management practices well beyond Sub-Saharan Africa.


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Copyright (c) 2019 Adelheid Iken, Fidele Mutwarasibo

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