I was just checking out the results of the recent AIIM Survey on Enterprise 2.0. (My company, Socialtext, was one of the underwriters.) There's a lot of great material there about how managers perceive Enterprise 2.0. I was particularly struck by how prominently culture appears as a theme in the responses. There is a view out there that an organization needs to have a "culture of collaboration" culture in order to successfully employ wikis and other Enterprise 2.0 tools.
That view is dead wrong. I've seen wikis thrive in un-collaborative cultures. I've seen wikis fail in collaborative cultures. I've seen wikis thrive in an organization alongside failing wikis in the same organization.
Even within "non-collaborative" cultures, people have to work with other people. We've seen lots of examples of wikis being introduced into those cultures in very safe ways--to streamline and simplify existing business interactions within existing organizational silos. What tends to happen then, often quite organically, is that the members of the wiki start interacting in new and different ways enabled by the wiki. Then the wiki is discovered by colleagues in other groups who work with participants of the wiki and want to be connected to the network. As they join in, the wiki starts generating new interaction patterns and norms that cut across organizational silos. Voila! You now have cultural change, as workers collaborate in new ways with their colleagues across organizational silos.
When managers complain that their organizations "just aren't collaborative enough" to embrace Enterprise 2.0, it's probably because they're trying to go straight to the sexy stuff--all-encompassing, above-the-flow "internal Wikipedias" where everyone shares everything they know with everyone else. There are a few places where that kind of thing can thrive immediately, but most companies need to work their way up to openness, beginning with incremental operational benefits derived from better collaboration within existing boundaries.
Culture is a destination on the collaboration journey, not a prerequisite for taking the first step.