Globalisation, culture and social
capital: library professionals on
Niels Ole Pors
Department of Library and Information Management,
Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to connect the stories and experiences of library professionals
who have chosen to take up positions in other countries. The library professionals were asked to reﬂect
on their experiences. This paper tends to connect and conceptualize the different experiences.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is purely theoretical and it introduces and links
concepts of social capital, thrust, and national culture and characteristics to the experiences of the
library professionals. The theoretical framework is used loosely to interpret and discuss the
Findings – The paper is not empirical in a traditional sense. This implies that there are no ﬁndings
based on data. The paper introduces and discusses concepts and apply these to material based on
experiences and it is indicated that the theoretical frameworks presented are useful in relation to
contextualising the diverse experiences. It is also indicated that the concepts of social capital are
closely related to concepts concerning national or regional cultural characteristics.
Practical implications – The practical implications are rather simple but difﬁcult to achieve. It is a
question about respect and it is a question about learning other patterns of communication, norms and
values which are indispensable in cross cultural relationships.
Originality/value – With reference to the author’s previous research it is indicated that phenomena
in library and information science and practice take different forms according to the cultural settings.
This is an important result in an ever increasing international world.
Keywords Globalization, National cultures, Social capital, Libraries
Paper type Conceptual paper
Some library directors and other leading professionals in the ﬁeld of library and
information were asked to write about the experiences of taking on a job in another
country than their native country. The papers are not academic in a narrow sense of
the word, but they form a very coherent and reﬂective approach to national differences
and it is evident that the authors have spent time to reﬂect on the consequences and
effects of a job in another country – and in some cases on another continent.
The results are presented in this issue of Library Management. It makes a very
interesting read with quite some lessons. The author of the present paper was asked to
“write around” the papers and put them into some kind of perspective. This gives the
author a high degree of freedom in structuring this introductory paper.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received 23 December 2006
Accepted 16 January 2007
Vol. 28 No. 4/5, 2007
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited