The culture of management or the management of culture?

  • Chris Burman
Keywords: knowledge management, development, women, poverty, rural organizations, South Africa


In 1992, 43 women who considered themselves to be the ‘poorest of the poor’ began working together to grow food for themselves and their families, in a remote rural village called Apel (Limpopo Province, South Africa). By 2003, the original 43 had grown to a group of almost 3,500 women working together under a nationally registered, not-for-profit organisation known as the Rural Women’s Association (RWA). The RWA now fosters a broad portfolio of activities, offering a sustainable livelihood to the women involved. This article presents a brief mapping of their journey, highlighting a moment of cultural change that jeopardised the gains made after a decade of community development, partially framed within a critical view of the Community of Practice model.