Cross-Cultural Communication and Collaboration: Case of an International e-Learning Project

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Abstract

Communication is an indispensable part of international cooperation and it requires managing different cultures. Being prepared to see and understand different values, trying to understand contrasting views in a consortium, can decrease the potential of misperception which otherwise may act as a real barrier to cooperation. This is why international cooperation necessitates negotiation across cultures. In the case of collaboration, parties come together for a joint work which itself may create common values/understanding, besides the set goals. This is because collaboration requires strong we-feeling and commitment. The purpose of this paper is to focus on cross-cultural communication and collaboration in the area of Open and Distance Learning (ODL), concentrating on the communication processes in project management. Cross-cultural studies point to different communicative behaviours of individuals in multinational work environments e.g. the cultural characteristics affect the preferences towards the use of the media. For the purposes of this paper, the authors make a phenomenological-oriented case study of project management based on interviews with partners of a multilateral Grundtvig (adult learning) project, affiliated with distance education institutions in eight different countries. The authors test their assumptions for constructive and cooperative communication in e-Learning projects; delineating the effects of different cultures as regards the expectations from (1) international projects and (2) communication media.

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