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Young Researchers unveil trends in Intercultural interaction: A review of the second InterKnow Workshop sponsored by the EU

For three days in November 2003, approximately 36 young and senior researchers came together to discuss the impact of values and norms on education and training for intercultural assignments and management. This workshop, sponsored by the EU and hosted by the University of Regensburg in Germany, took place in Schloss Spindlhoff, in a picturesque town along the river Regen.

Most of the researchers were from Europe, although some came from as far as New Zealand, USA., and Canada. The workshop was promisingly interdisciplinary, which amplified the overlap in the fields, such as economics, language, psychology, and political studies, and the potential for future cooperation. Interestingly, Eastern European universities were more prominently represented than Western European institutes. Furthermore, most of the young researchers were women, but all of the seniors were men. The entire event was organised by Stefan Schmid and Uli Zeutschel overlooked by Prof. Fink and Prof. Thomas. After the welcoming speeches, Prof. Alexander Thomas from Regensburg University opened with a discussion on International Scientific Cooperation; highlighting the Anglo-American domination within the social sciences. Prof. Nicolae Bibu from Romania followed with an in depth analysis of the need for democratic processes when cooperating across borders. The sessions after lunch concerned Intercultural Interaction at the Workplace and Stereotypes, Attitudes, and Cultural Identity. The main themes for further discussion that came forward from the former were the issue of a main language in multi cultural teams and the issue of a universal application of culturally standard methodology. The themes brought forward in the latter concerned whether European values can be taken as a true border and the need for enrichment of intercultural experience. Overall, the main points of the two sessions taken together were the purpose and intention of research projects and a need to hear more about the Schwartz Cultural Values model as an alternative to Hofstedes renowned dimensions. The next day, Dr. Yochanan Altman (UK) further explored the Schwartz cultural values, arguing a case for their use in individual level (rather than national level) research. This was followed by a presentation by Prof. Pawel Boski (Poland) about values and identities in European identification, focusing on the motives and reasons of Poles supporting or rejecting Polands imminent joining of the European Union across different social classes. Prof. Dan Landis (USA) presented how the theory of expertise can be applied to intercultural training, introducing a model of intercultural behavior, and finally discussed where the field of intercultural training seems to be headed in the near term. Session III pertained to intercultural training. Interesting ideas that were brought forward are that entrepreneurs are made in Eastern and born in Western Europe, that institutional support (EU parliament) is important, and that language learning equals culture learning. Session IV, which concerned intercultural contact in non-profit and exchange organizations, brought forward 4 main themes: 1) Adaptation and development in cultural transitions through surveys and action research 2) Team success involves performance and integration but what are the criteria and is this theory based? 3) The level of analysis: national, organizational, or individual otherwise statistical results may not be valid 4) Diversity of research concerns a reflection of approaches and practice. How applied is applied and how important is a multi-method approach? The final day commenced with a keynote presentation by Nigel Holden (UK/Denmark), who talked about knowledge transfer and German management, in particular about pragmatic observations and difficulties involved with intercultural research. He concluded that his findings were not culture specific and that the concept of culture may be overused when interculturalists diagnose multinational issues. The academic aspect of the 3-day workshop finished with a panel discussion, in which the need for enthusiasm for ones research subject, the lack of female senior researchers, and the balance of quality research or publish or perish came to the fore. Throughout the workshop, the University of Regensburg team was careful to engage participants in the ideas and issues that presentations and discussions had generated this made the conference an intense, but also a valuable experience. The day and workshop ended with a visit to the Mayor of Regensburg in the Kurfürstensaal. This was the second of four InterKnow workshops. More information (including how to participate) can be obtained via http://fgr.wu-wien.ac.at/institut/ef/inteknow.pdf.

Countries

Germany