By Matthew MacLachlan
There has been a fantastic discussion happening at LinkedIn about where the future of intercultural training lies.  I would like to briefly summarise here. There is a growing realisation that the models on which trainers have relied for so long (such as Hall, Hofstede, Trompenaars et al) are not sufficient to describe the reality of our own experiences…

The more liberal approach is that these models are a good starting point that can lay a foundation for a discussion; the more radical would argue that these models are so flawed as to be dangerous.  I think it is nevertheless true to say that all those who are seriously engaged in intercultural training have some reservations.

This presents a dilemma:  the greatest advantage of those models is that they are easy to explain, easy to present and easy to pass on, and, to trainers, most importantly, easy to sell.  In a client meeting it is very easy to talk about the dimensions and how difficulties arise because person A is at the opposite end of the scale to person B.  The post-modernist or constructionist position is much harder to sell – if rules governing an interaction are co-negotiated in the realms of that interaction, and have little relevance beyond the framework of that interaction….well you see my point, I hope.

There is an important point here.  Academic discussions and “practicioner” discussions have continued in isolation from each other, despite the attempts of organisations like SIETAR to bring the two together.  But if the academic models upon which we have founded our industry are flawed, we need to return to academia to discuss the next step.  And if academia is providing answers that are not practically relevant, academics need to turn to practitioners (i.e trainers) to look at real answers.

This fundamental cultural clash at the heart of the Intercultural training field is being resolved as we speak: dialogues are starting, and answers will be coming soon, and discussions, like the ones at LinkedIn are increasingly an important tool in resolving our differences, with a view to creating a product that is not only desperately needed, but also has the authority of quality research supporting it.

Posted via email from The World At Work

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 24th, 2010 at 10:16 am and is filed under about cross-culture, cross-cultural communication, General, other interesting stuff . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “ Future of Intercultural Training ”

  1. Evan says:

    Your point about the gap between academics and practitioners is so true – exactly the same gap exists in the world of English language teaching, despite the attempts of many on both sides to close it. Teachers find it very difficult to gain access to research, for example, and researchers are constrained by the requirements of having to publish in peer reviewed journals with a limited readership. Having said that, I am very confident that the the growing power of social media will provide the means for both sides to share information and learn from each other in ways that has not been possible in the past.

  2. Leo Salazar says:

    Just went through a real maze trying to find it, but the original group that this blog post refers to is:

  3. You make an interesting point Evan. Thank you.