DEVELOPMENT OF CROSS-CULTURAL TRAINING
Solodka A. K.
PHD, associate professor, post doctoral researcher
Institute of Pedagogical Problems, National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences
Cross-cultural orientation is defined as training programs designed to prepare people to live and carry out specific assignments as well as those that are designed to prepare people to return to their home country after completing their assignment in another culture. Cross-cultural training is considered as formal efforts to prepare people for more effective interpersonal relations and for job success when they interact extensively with individuals from cultures other than their own. Features of programs are that they are formal rather than the set of informal and unplanned behaviors that everyone undertakes when they live in another country, well-planned, budgeted, and staffed by experts who are knowledgeable about the wide range of issues people face when they live in other cultures.
In addition, the scope of cross-cultural training has been expanded over the years to not only preparing people for reentry but also preparing people within one’s own country to deal with people who are from another culture. In this paper we review landmark studies and trace the evolution of concepts that have become a part of the vocabulary of cross-cultural training researchers and practitioners in the last fifty years. We discuss research and practice in phases of decades. Starting with the fifties and sixties when the foundation of the field was laid down, we discuss how the field saw early consolidation in the se
venties and maturity in the eighties. We finally discuss the state of the art, both in terms of research and practice, in the nineties, and go on to identify major streams of research in the field. We end the paper with some perspective about where the field may be going in future.
Key words: cross-cultural education, cross-cultural orientation, cross-cultural interaction, cross-cultural assimilator
РАЗВИТИЕ КРОСС-КУЛЬТУРНОГО ОБУЧЕНИЯ
Солодкая Анжелика Константиновна
Развитие кросс-культурного обучения имеет более чем пятидесятилетнюю историю. Программы, созданные для подготовки людей для жизни в другой культуре первоначально назывались «Кросс-культурные ориентированные программы». Ранние исследования представляли собой подготовку людей для международной деятельности – процессу, в котором личность нуждается в ориентировании на различия в во взаимодействии между двумя культурами. Данная традиция продолжала сохраняться в течение многих лет и эта область до сих пор относится к кросс-культурной ориентации. Позже ученые пришли к осознанию того, что людям необходимо что-то большее, чем ориентация для осуществления успешного взаимодействия на перекрестке культур, а именно практика культурно обусловленного поведения. Данная область стала относиться к кросс-культурному обучению. В отличие от кросс-культурной ориентации как программы обучения, созданной для подготовки людей для жизни в другой стане, кросс-культурное обучение определяется как усилия направленные на подготовку людей для более эффективного межличностного взаимодействия и исполнения профессиональных обязанностей, когда они взаимодействуют экстенсивно с представителями культур, отличающимися от их собственной. Содержание программ включает широкий круг вопросов, с которыми сталкиваются люди, живущие в другой культуре. Их содержание расширялось в течение многих лет и дополнялось с развитием теории кросс-культурного взаимодействия.
В статье прослеживается эволюция концепций, которые составили основу исследований кросс-культурного обучения за последние 50 лет, начиная с 50-60-х годов, когда были заложены его основы и современные течения в исследованиях в этой области. В завершении даются прогнозы развития кросс-культурного обучения.
Ключевые слова: кросс-культурное обучение, кросс-культурное взаимодействие, кросс-культурное ориентирование, ассимиляторы.
Early Research Foundation: Research in 1950s and 1960s. Anthropologists provided some of the earliest concepts that laid the foundation of research on cross-cultural training. Oberg and Hall were the pioneers who provided the constructs of culture shock  and space and time  that not only stimulated practitioners but also researchers in the fifties and sixties. Psychologists were not far behind the anthropologists in this area, and those at the University of Illinois started many cross-cultural research projects that led to the development of the culture assimilators .
Culture Shock. Oberg coined the term Culture Shock to describe the problems faced by people who go from one culture to another. He used this term to describe the consequences, i.e., the personal problems that people face in moving to other cultures. It has become perhaps the most accepted construct to describe the emotional stress experienced by sojourners while they are living abroad. The symptoms of culture shock include both physical and psychological complaints. Culture shock provided practitioners a legitimate reason to provide cross-cultural training because it would lead to the avoidance, if not elimination, of culture shock. Researchers also profited from this construct in that it provided a measure of the successful adaptation of sojourners when they moved from one culture to another. A measure of culture shock could also provide a criterion measure for evaluating cross-cultural training programs. In effect, culture shock probably provided the first conceptual tool to study the process of cross-cultural adjustment as well as to provide cross-cultural training to sojourners. It should be noted that this construct provided a measure of the adaptation process, and might not have directly impacted the content of cross-cultural training programs. However, this construct might have inspired many practitioners to look for cultural items (e.g., behaviors, values, artifacts, etc.) that would shock their participants in a training session, thus allowing them to discuss cultural differences and better prepare the trainees for dealing with culture shock on arrival in a foreign culture. This construct also contributed to the notion of cultural distance in that the greater the cultural distance between two cultures, the more a sojourner would experience culture shock. This concept has stayed with the field of cross-cultural training ever since.
Triandis recently presented a theoretical framework for understanding how culture shock is experienced. According to his theory, there are many factors that lead the sojourner to experience culture shock while interacting with people in the host culture. If there is a history of conflict between the two cultures, if cultural distance between the two cultures is large, if neither the host nor the sojourner know about each other’s cultures, and if the second language competence of the sojourner or the host is weak, then they perceive each other to be very different, and their interactions lead to culture shock. On the contrary, if there is not a history of conflict, if the cultural distance is small, the sojourner knows about the host culture, and his or her second language competence is excellent, then the he or she is likely to perceive the other as similar to himself or herself, and is not likely to experience culture shock. Other factors that add to reducing perception of difference are network overlap, equal status contact, and superordinate goals. When interaction between people who are from different cultures is rewarded, they interact more, their networks overlap more, and they make more isomorphic attributions (i.e., the sojourner makes the same judgment about the cause of a behavior as do people in the host culture), thus leading to reduction or elimination of culture shock.
Time and Space. Hall provided another set of conceptual tools on culture that facilitated the development of cross-cultural training as a field . He emphasized communication since he argued that most cross-cultural misunderstandings resulted from distortions in communication among people. Hall proposed that any aspect of culture could be studied at three levels, formal, informal, and technical, since humans operate at all these levels. The formal level refers to behaviors or values that everyone knows about and takes for granted. For example, formal time in the U. S. would refer to everyone knowing that meetings start on time, buses run on time, people get upset if appointments are not kept, and so forth. These aspects of time are taken for granted in the daily life. Informal time refers to rather vague or imprecise references that vary from situation to situation. Technical time refers to how scientists and engineers define and use time, and is likely to be unknown to a lay person. He discussed in detail how time and space could be studied at these three levels, and gave many cross-cultural examples to illustrate how space and time could be used to analyze and study culture. He argued that these three aspects are generalizable to all aspects of culture, and are present in all situations, but only one of them dominates, or is salient, at any instant in time.
Informal aspects of a culture are by nature implicit, flexible and with some variation across different people in a culture. Technical aspects of a culture are those that are transmitted either orally or in writing, from the teacher to the student. Technical aspects of a culture, therefore, are explicit, often associated with cohort teaching (one teacher can give lessons to a large number of people at the same time), and could even be taught from a distance. The written religious texts (e.g., the Bible) would be an example of the technical aspects of a religion, and it can be easily seen how a text like the Bible was used to proselytize people who lived very far from Rome. According to Hall, formal behaviors make up the core of a culture, which is surrounded by informal behaviors that are adaptations of the formal behaviors, and the technical aspects provide the structural support for the core formal behaviors. Deep emotions are associated with the violation of the formal aspects of a culture, whereas milder affect is associated with the violation of the informal aspects of a culture. The technical aspects of culture can be discussed and explained, and are proposed to be affect free, however, the violation of technical rules are also associated with strong emotional reactions. The technical aspects of a culture are usually associated with codified rules and law because of their explicitness. When one observes cultural changes, technical changes are the ones that are most visible, and are often counter to the older formal norms, eventually becoming the basis of a new formal system. They are also the easiest to effect change from the outside, by an outsider, because of their technical and rational nature. Formal elements of a culture are the most difficult to change, and evolves slowly over the years, almost imperceptibly. Hall created a science of human experience with social and personal space, and used the term proxemics to describe how culture influences human’s use of space. He argued that people from different cultures not only speak different languages but also “inhabit different sensory worlds” [8, p. 2], and create different environment around themselves. He classified distance into four categories. Intimate distance refers to the situations when sight, sound, smell, etc., signal that another person is in close proximity. When one is comforting another person (love making or wrestling would be other situations), the distance between them is categorized as intimate. Personal distance refers to the distance consistently separating the members of non-contact species. It is a distance (of one and one half to four feet) at which a person can lay his or her hands on the other person. In terms of relationships, a spouse can stay within the personal distance, but another person in this zone would make the person uncomfortable. Social distance refers to the situation when people do not expect to touch each other, and is far enough (four to seven feet) so that one cannot touch the other. Finally, public distance refers to a distance of twelve or more feet between people. He studied cultural differences in the use of space among the American, French, German, Japanese, and the Arab cultures. His research helped us understand cultural differences in privacy, face-to-face communication, crowding behavior, eye contact, and many other social behaviors. His studies revealed many interesting cultural differences, e.g., the Arabs use olfaction and touch more than Americans. Hall’s work has greatly impacted the cross-cultural research and practice, especially in intercultural communication. His work greatly contributed toward the content of cross-cultural training in that cultural differences pertaining to time, space, and nonverbal communication came to be a central part of most cross-cultural training programs.
Toward Experiential Methods. Harrison  also made significant impact on the field in the sixties. They evaluated training programs that used the lecture method to prepare people for living abroad. They found that the lecture method was, at that time, the most pervasive method or approach to cross-cultural training, and one that was used without much reservation. They recommended that the experiential method was superior to the lecture method. This led to a growth in the development of experiential exercises. They gave five reasons why the University Model or the lecture method, in which a trainer lectures to a group of trainees about the target culture, usually its history, geography, religion, people, business, way of life, and so forth, was not effective in cross-cultural training programs. First, the university model assumes passive rather than active learning. In lecture method, the trainees are provided information in a package, almost in a canned fashion (i.e., open the can and the information is there for use), by the expert, whereas, in real life the onus of information collection lies on the trainee or sojourner. Second, this method traditionally involves trainees in problem solving types of activities, where well-defined problems are provided by the instructor. In real life, however, the sojourners have to identify the problem by themselves before they can attempt to address it. Third, in the class room people are encouraged to be rational and unemotional; whereas in real life the sojourners have to confront situations that are charged with emotion, and they need to develop “the emotional muscle", which is needed in intercultural interactions. Fourth, the university model usually requires participants to study material and produce an analytical report, but in cross-cultural interaction people need skills to interact with people.
Finally, this method focuses on written more so than the verbal communication, whereas, the major mode of communication for sojourners is oral and nonverbal. Thus, Harrison made a strong case against the classroom method that follows the traditional teaching approach. Despite the criticism, there are many reasons for the university method to still be popular. This is a method to which most people have exposure, and is simple, flexible, and inexpensive. They provided a major stimulation to the development of the experiential method of cross-cultural training, thus contributing to methodological innovation in the field.
Culture Assimilators. The culture assimilator is the contribution of the psychologists from University of Illinois (Triandis) . It is a cross-cultural training tool that consists of a number of real-life scenarios describing puzzling cross-cultural interactions and explanation for avoiding the emerging misunderstandings. These scenarios are called critical incidents. These critical incidents describe cross-cultural interactions between a sojourner and a host country national that depict a misunderstanding because of cultural differences between the two people. At the end of the critical incident a question is posed that asks the reader to reflect on the scenario and think about the source of misunderstanding. The question is followed by four or five alternatives that are plausible behavioral choices for a person facing such a social situation. In effect, the reader is asked to make attributions and then to compare his or her attributions with the ones provided at the end of the incident. One of these alternatives represents a view from one of the two cultures involved in the situation and a second one captures the views of the second culture. The rest of the alternatives try to capture a range of individual differences present in either of the cultures, but are usually less appropriate or desirable. Thus, one would be behaving correctly in his or her own culture if he or she selected one particular alternative, but another alternative would have to be selected for the person to behave appropriately in the second culture. For each of the alternatives, an explanation is offered, usually on a separate page. The explanation gives the rationale why a particular behavior (alternative) is not appropriate in the given situation. Hence, the culture assimilator consists of a number of critical incidents that have three parts: An incident or a short story, four or five alternative behavioral choices or attributions, and explanations or feedback about why an alternative is to be preferred or not. Culture assimilators are one of the earliest structured training materials, which fall in the broad category of Programmed Instruction. Trainees are given the package of training material that consists of a number of incidents, alternatives, and explanations to study at their own pace. This makes the assimilator a convenient self-learning tool. Since different people are at different levels of cultural sensitivity, this method is particularly useful as a cross-cultural training tool. When trainees use the assimilator as a programmed learning tool, they go on selecting one response at a time, until they find the correct response.
There has been a considerable amount of research regarding the use of the culture assimilator as a culture training technique [7; 13; 11].
Contrast American Method. Another early innovation in cross-cultural training was the culture self-awareness method in which trainees see the demonstration of a behavior that is completely opposite to one in their own culture. Stewart used this approach to train Americans going abroad and called it the Contrast-American technique. In his programs, he used a model to demonstrate a behavior that was completely opposed to the American way of doing something. The trainees interacted with the model and the session was videotaped. This method is valuable in developing cultural self-awareness, and one of the strengths of the method is that it emphasizes affective goals through experiential processes. This type of training works in three steps: it helps the trainees to recognize their own cultural values, who then analyze the contrasts with other cultures, and then finally apply the insight to cross-cultural interaction. An obvious weakness of the method is that it does not necessarily help the trainees to learn anything specific about the host culture(s) in which they will be interacting.
Self-Reference Criterion Method. Lee defined ‘Self-Reference Criterion’ as the unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values in communicating with people who are from other cultures. Lee also presented a way to overcome the self-reference criterion (SRC), and he called this approach the Cultural Analysis System . The four steps of Cultural Analysis System requires first to define the business problem faced by an expatriate in terms of the cultural parameters (i.e., cultural traits, values, or norms) of Culture A (i.e., sojourner’s own culture), and then to define the business problem or goal in terms of the cultural parameters of Culture B (i.e., host culture). Lee advised not to make any value judgment at this point. Next, one should isolate the SRC influence in the problem and examine it carefully to see how it complicates the situation. Finally, one redefines the problem without the SRC influence and solves for the optimum business goal situation. Since the analysis is to serve adaptation in several areas of international business activities, its use must necessarily be flexible. This method can be applied to product, institution, and individual adaptation. Lee’s contribution has received much less attention in the intercultural research field, but his work did have influence on business researchers. His method is also somewhat similar to the cultural selfawareness model discussed earlier in which people recognize their own cultural values, then analyze the contrasts with other cultures, and finally apply the insight to the situation to resolve the intercultural confusion in a culturally appropriate manner. However, the work of Stewart and Lee have not received as much attention, despite their value.
Experiential Exercises. Experiential exercises emerged as a reaction to the traditional university model, and as a result they focus on involving the trainees a great deal. The most popular type of experiential tool is the simulation game in which trainees interact with other people following a set of guidelines provided by the trainer. Usually, trainees are divided into two groups and each represents an imaginary culture with some simple rules. Two popular simulations are BAFA BAFA, and the Albatross. It is useful to start a training program with a simulation, but its usefulness by itself is suspect in the absence of research evidence. Ideally, the interaction should involve trainees emotionally, and cognition should follow affect. However, affect is also usually low because of the artificial nature of the exercise, and though the debriefing at the end of the exercise is useful, it seems that only some very simple conclusions like “cultures are different” and “intercultural interactions are puzzling” can be drawn from the exercise.
Culture General Assimilator. The development of the culture general assimilator  was a significant contribution to the field in that it directed research in cross-cultural training away from the less theoretical realm of culture specific assimilators . Brislin and Pedersen stated that culture-general training refers “to such topics as self-awareness and sensitivity training that allow one to learn about himself or herself as preparation for interaction in any culture [6, p. 6].” The culture-general assimilator, unlike Kraemer’s self-awareness model that fits the description of culture general training quite well, is not a tool to increase self-awareness, in the strictest sense. However, it still is a culture general training tool. It covers eighteen themes that have appeared in the literature as important concepts in the context of living abroad. These themes are organized around three broad headings: People’s Intense Feelings, Knowledge Areas, and Bases of Cultural Differences. Sojourners strongly feel about many things during their sojourn, and some of these feelings are caused by Anxiety (due to unfamiliar circumstances in a new culture), Disconfirmed Expectancies (behaviors of hosts that are different from those expected by the sojourner), lack of emotional support from the hosts leading to a clear sense of lack of Belonging, Ambiguity in interactions with the hosts, and confrontation with one’s Prejudice and Ethnocentrism. These five themes appear to be causally related to people’s intense feelings during their stay abroad. Eight of the other themes that Brislin classified as Knowledge Areas are concepts that are crucial in understanding cultural differences. These are: Work, Time and Space, Language, Roles, Importance of the Group and the Importance of the Individual, Rituals and Superstition, Hierarchies (class and status), and Values. The culture-general assimilator prepares sojourners for differences across cultures in work attitudes and values, use of time and personal space, roles of men and women, importance of group harmony and individual achievement, local rituals and superstitions, the role of class and status in societies, and personal and social values. The remaining five constructs refer to psychological processes of categorization (e.g., who is a friend or a good mother), differentiation (i.e., making appropriate distinction, such as various skills to overcome red tape or to identify obligations related to various relationships), the ingroupoutgroup distinction (e.g., as it relates to individualism and collectivism), attribution (e.g., the skill of making isomorphic attribution), and learning style (e.g., the best way to learn is not the same for people in different cultures). The culture-general assimilator consists of 100 critical incidents that cover all the above themes. The validation sample consisted of people who had lived in many countries and had held many positions while working in another culture over the years. The 60 experts who participated in the validation of the assimilator responded to a seven-point Likert-type of scale about their agreement or disagreement with each of the four or five alternative responses to the critical incidents. Only the incidents whose responses were clearly preferred by the expert sample were included in the assimilator. Also, if more than one of the members of the validation sample criticized a critical incident then the incident was dropped.
Behavior Modification Training. One of the recent developments is the attention given to behavior modification training. In a review article, Black and Mendenhall proposed that behavior modification training may be more effective than other types of training programs. Behavior modification is based on the Social Learning Theory (SLT) proposed by Bandura. It has four central elements: Attention, Retention, Reproduction, and Incentive. According to SLT, people need to observe a behavior before learning it (i.e., they need to pay attention to the target behavior). Attention is a function of status, attractiveness, similarity, and availability of past reinforcement for focusing on the model demonstrating the target behavior.
Development of Theory-Based Assimilators
Another recent development deals with the role of culture theory in cross-cultural training , and the development of a theory-based culture assimilator, which is based on the concepts of individualism and collectivism . Bhawuk and Triandis proposed that culture theory could be effectively used in cross-cultural training.
Intercultural Sensitivity Inventory (ICSI)
Intercultural sensitivity is a concept that is frequently viewed as important in both theoretical analyses of people’s adjustment to other cultures and in applied programs to prepare people to live and work effectively in cultures other than their own. Attempts to measure this concept have not always been successful, and one reason is that researchers and practitioners have not specified exactly what aspects of the other culture people should be sensitive to during their sojourn. Bhawuk and Brislin  developed a scale to measure intercultural sensitivity by examining (a) people’s understanding of the different ways they can behave, depending upon whether they are interacting in an individualistic or a collectivist culture, (b) their open-mindedness concerning the differences they encounter in other cultures, and (c) their flexibility concerning behaving in unfamiliar ways that are called upon by the norms of other cultures. The Intercultural Sensitivity Inventory is a 46-item scale that was developed and tested among participants at the East-West Center in Hawaii and among graduate students in an MBA program who were contemplating careers in international business. The instrument was found to have adequate reliability and validity.
Emerging Research Streams and Future Research Directions. The development of the field of cross-cultural training over the past fifty years shows an encouraging sign of evolution of more theoretically meaningful training methods and tools. It can be expected that more theory-based training methods and material are likely to be developed in the future. More theory-based culture assimilators like the Individualism and Collectivism Assimilator, theory-based exercises and simulations, and behavior modeling type of programs based on social learning theory are likely to emerge. Culture assimilators are also likely to remain the most popular method as this tool has evolved from culture specific to culture general to culture theory-based format, and many computer-based and multimedia assimilators are likely to emerge in future. Practitioners are likely to encounter more sophisticated participants who have some exposure to cross-cultural issues through coursework at universities or through orientation programs conducted by international student offices in student dormitories. Thus, there will be an increased demand for newer and more sophisticated training tools, challenging both research and practice, and the experiential exercises are likely to become more complex, and would probably use more than one medium (e.g., audio, visual, discourse, models, and so forth). Survey of the past fifty years of the field of cross-cultural training shows that there is much enthusiasm among researchers and practitioners in this field. Therefore, this field is likely to blossom many fold in the future global village, where intercultural skills will become a prime necessity.
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