Information culture of Ghanaian immigrants living in New Zealand

Published date05 November 2018
Date05 November 2018
AuthorEric Boamah
Information culture of Ghanaian
immigrants living in New Zealand
Eric Boamah
The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand
Purpose The purpose of this paperis to explore the information culture of Ghanaian immigrantsliving in
New Zealand. The values, beliefs and behavioursthat inuence the ways information is identied, accessed,
used, shared and preserved, denes peoples information culture. Some Ghanaians have migrated to New
Zealand for differentreasons, including studies, work and resettlement. To live successfullyand peacefully in
a foreign country,they need specic information and to understand whereto nd, use and share it. This paper
investigated the factors that inuencethe beliefs and perspectives Ghanaians hold around information the
informationthey use in New Zealand.
Design/methodology/approach A qualitative approach was adopted. Both questionnaire and
interviews were used to collect data from 27 Ghanaians living in different regions of New Zealand. Basic
questionnaireanalysis was done in survey monkey. Interview transcriptswere analysed manually by reading
through severally using colour patterns to identify key concepts and themes and using tables to organise
Findings The main areas Ghanaians are interested in using information about in New Zealand include
education, health,information on environmental issues, New Zealandpolitics and sports. Few Ghanaians are
interested in information about entertainment and religion and agriculture as these areas do not have much
impact on the purposes for their lives in New Zealand. Althoughmost Ghanaians consider themselves poor
record-keepers, theyaccord high value to the information they seek and use in New Zealand. Their preferred
information sourceis the World Wide Web, although other sources suchas libraries and academic databases
are also considered useful.The most preferred and trusted approach of sharing information is face-to-faceis
considered. Socialmedia, WhatsApp, mobile phones, etc. are also consideredreliable ways of communicating
Research limitations/implication Only 27 Ghanaians participated in the study, theircircumstances
surrounding the life in New Zealandmay be completely different from other Ghanaians.So their views may
not fully reect the situations of all Ghanaians in New Zealand. Also, the fact that most participants were
familiarwith the researchercould impact their responses.
Practical implication This paper provides a usefulunderstanding of the information cultural patterns
of Ghanaians and can provide a useful basisfor further investigations of Ghanaians and other immigrants
life patternsin New Zealand.
Originality/value Although other studies have looked at the Ghanaian immigrantsin other countries,
this is the rst studythat looks at the information culture of Ghanaians in New Zealand.
Keywords Immigrants, New Zealand, Ghana, Information behavior, Information culture,
Information types
Paper type Research paper
The purpose of this article is to discuss the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that inuence
how Ghanaian immigrants living in New Zealand account for the information they use,
preserve and share among themselves.Hofstede (2007, p. 16) identies that peoples beliefs,
attitudes and behaviours form part of the collective programming of the minds of a group
the nd themselves in. Culture is central when it comes to communicating and sharing of
culture of
Received19 July 2018
Revised9 August 2018
Accepted4 September 2018
GlobalKnowledge, Memory and
Vol.67 No. 8/9, 2018
pp. 585-606
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/GKMC-07-2018-0065
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
information. This article is, therefore, about the beliefs and philosophical perspectives that
dene Ghanaian immigrantsbehaviour towards the information they use and shareamong
themselves and withother groups in New Zealand.
In the last decade, the number of Ghanaians in New Zealandhas increased signicantly,
although Ghanaians are stilla small group compared to other ethnic groups in New Zealand
(Statistics New Zealand, 2013). An understanding of the types of information Ghanaian
immigrants need and their culture around the informationthey use and share will be useful
not only for both current and future membersof the Ghanaian community, but also for other
social groups and immigrant communities in New Zealand. The New Zealand Government
will also be able to design an appropriate programme and services to support migrant
Information is vital in every aspect of life. It is used and shared among groups of people
every day either consciously or unconsciously to make life easy for one another. This
sharing and using of information has been identied as the main method through which
relationships are born, grown and evolvedwithin communities (Hersbeger et al.,2005, p. 10).
Having access to the right information at the right time to solve a problem is as valuable as
any other precious resource that is required for human survival and success. Nevertheless,
understanding the values and beliefs people attach to the processes for sharing and using
information can be challenging. This is because different people have different cultures
around the way they use and share information. Various studies have shown that we
usually do not have a clearer understanding of the processes and technologies involved in
sharing what information is needed to solvewhich problem and to benetwhom(Goldfarb,
2014;Maiers et al.,2005;Sonnenwald, 2006). This study, therefore, explored the values and
beliefs Ghanaian immigrants living in New Zealand attached to the types of information
they need, use and share.
Cultural factors that inuence Ghanaiansinformation culture can be traced from their
original context in Ghana. The people of Ghana comprise over 100 different linguistic and
cultural groups, making ita multicultural country, with no singlenational language (Ghana
Statistical Services, 2016;GhanaWeb, 2016). Ghanaians share information based on trust.
They ensure that any party they share their information that aligns with the belief and
values they see in the information they share. To Ghanaians, every attempt to share
information is an efforttowards managing a risk in preserving their hope for the future.In a
study that partly explored Ghanaians attitudes towards the preservation of their cultural
heritage resources, it was found that most Ghanaians are conscious of the need to protect
their creative and intellectualmaterials, which forms a major part of their information. This
behaviour sometimes makes them cautious about to whom they want to share their
information with(Boamah, 2014,p.125).
On the other hand, the various positive cultural belief systems and traditions from the
multiple Ghanaian cultureshave enabled the development of certain constructive behaviour
patterns in the Ghanaian individual, such as tolerance, hospitability, condence and
understanding. These traits make the people very easy to mix with other cultures both
within and outside their country. The contrast between the secrecy in sharing cultural
information and the tolerance makes Ghanaians easily relatable to other people, making it
even more interesting to explore a deeper understanding of what cultural patterns in New
Zealand inuence the information Ghanaians use and share, with whom they share it and
how they share their informationin the New Zealand society.

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