Karen Smits an international expert in Organizational Anthropology., supporting executives, teams and organizations in developing cross-cultural collaboration, organizational change and growth initiatives. She acts as a Global Thinker on Organizational Culture & Change Management at Practical Thinking Group.
Karen’s Ph.D. dissertation, titled Cross Culture Work: Practices of Collaboration in the Panama Canal Expansion Program receives much attention in the project management world, and beyond. Focusing on the people-side of managing projects, her research reveals how participants with the cultural complexity in their everyday work life.
Karen grew up in the Netherlands, where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management with a study on organizational culture during the merger of three public organizations. She then worked in the field of Human Resources and traveled in South East Asia and South America. After finalizing the Master’s program Culture, Organization and Management, in 2008, she started her Ph.D. research on cross-cultural collaboration at VU University Amsterdam. While conducting the research, Karen presented and numerous, international (academic) conferences, taught in various academic courses, and published academic articles. In 2013, her writing was granted the “Highly Commended Paper Award” from the Emerald Literati Network. In 2014, she spoke at TEdx in Panama.
Karen moved to Singapore in 2017. Before that she lived 5 years in Panama and 3 years in Brazil. In Brazil, she taught at FIA Business School in São Paulo and ADEN University in Argentina/United States. Additionaly, she is often invited to speak at international, corporate events. Karen strives to make the cultural context of the organization and its members more visible, which supports collaboration and its outcomes within the organization.