Knowledge Sharing in the Commons LO24396

From: Bernhard Weber (
Date: 04/19/00

Replying to LO24377 --

Dear Ravi Palepu, dear Orglearners

Greetings from Cape Verde Islands westwards outside the continent in the
Southern Atlantic Ocean.

You wrote: "most traditional organisational structures coupled with the
emerging increased valuation of knowledge will actually impede knowledge
sharing." I'd like people to share their ideas/opinions with me or point
me to similar patterns of thought.

and then: Where the 'tragedy of the commons' plays its fate in the
traditional organisation whether it be in the private, public or NGO
sectors... If a person is overly valued based on their networks and
knowledge assets, then they are actually increasing their market value if
the scarcity of that knowledge is increased. Hence, knowledge sharing is
not inherently promoted.

and then: I know that this is perhaps a simple topic to most, but I need
more inertia to back up my push of more organic and formative organsations
in the developing context.

For me it is a basic topic. I am struggling against the phenomenon you
described since I left my mainly academic context - with its commonly
shared value to share knowledge, where people get reputation, if they are
able to not only produce but distribute new knowledge - and moved from my
rich, some industrial products but mainly high quality services producing
country AUSTRIA to Cape Verde, to work in development cooperation


Between 95 and 98 I realized a training/learning project for more than 50
capeverdians to become national consultants/trainers for
micro-enterprises. It was not easy to open the minds for modern
participative training/teaching/learning-methods, in a country where the
education minister brought the following example in an opening speach at a
Conference some weeks ago: "I went to a school in the mountains recently,
to observe what is going on at that basic level, where all our reform
intentions have to arrive, If the educational reform should be a success
and, believe it or not, when I asked a question to the teacher there, they
answered me as a chorus. The teachers!", but a lot of intensive
communication in one week training workshops, coaching-pairs,
intervision-groups, etc. brought the folks to unlearn and participate in
learning processes, where they felt well, ...

But when we came to the point of sharing their knowledge to increase the
cake. NO CHANCE! Each of them knew a lot about the micro-enterprises in
their socio-geografical surroundings. I was not able to get them to a
point where they would have put all their knowledge together, producing a
system-analises of the world of micro-enterprises on the 9 inhabited
islands of Cape Verde. The argument was: But the others are my future
concurrents! They had forgotten, what we had discussed under the key word
"Coopetition". They saw no possibility to cooperate with their concurrents
in sharing knowledge.

Aspects of & Hypotheses & Questions to the problem, which I can post in a
spontaneous way:

It seems to me that the problem is worse in some development countries
than it is in "modern, industrialized countries"

How is the legal background system. Are there effective laws to protect
"mental property" in Zimbabwe? Does (c) exist? n.

I think, the actual global shift to "knowledge driven societies" is only
fortifying the problem.

Is there a tradition of "citation" of the knowledge of others, if it is

Is it a accepted view, that I do not lose reputation, if I use knowledge,
which I got from others, in an intelligent way. Or do I have to hide the
fact, that I "do not already know everything by myself?

Bernhard Weber

management & human resources
training, consulting & development GmbH
Praia Office, Cape Verde


"Bernhard Weber" <>

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