Digital entrepreneurship and indigenous value systems: An Ubuntu perspective

Jun 19th, 2021 | By | Category: RSS Feed


This paper investigates the embeddedness of digital entrepreneurship in the entrepreneurs’ indigenous value system by examining the influence of ‘Ubuntu’ on digital entrepreneurship activities in the South African context. We do so through an interpretive field study of two innovation clusters in South Africa. Our findings reveal Ubuntu as the basis of a community orientation to digital entrepreneurship that offers an alternative to the prevalent heroic view in which digital entrepreneurship narratives are centred around the individual entrepreneur(s). They also highlight the tensions faced by digital entrepreneurs as they attempt to uphold the Ubuntu values of humility, reciprocity, and benevolence while operating in a competitive and fast-paced environment. In addition, our study indicates that the way entrepreneurs draw on their indigenous value system is dynamic, giving rise to what we call digital Ubuntu, reflecting a reworking of Ubuntu values into their increasingly digital reality. The concept of digital Ubuntu brings to light how indigenous values can become entangled with the capabilities of digital technologies and highlights the need for indigenous perspectives to advance our understanding of the diversity of digital phenomena, such as digital entrepreneurship, across cultural contexts.


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