Visualization & Intercultural Communication @ MIC

April 23, 2013

This is the presentation for the MIC, Master of Advanced Studies in Intercultural Communication of the Università della Svizzera italiana.

The topic of the course is Linguistics and Semiotics, and my module is on Visualization & Intercultural Communication:


Fair trade at the Latin American Day, University of St. Gallen

April 18, 2013

Today the Latin American Day 2013 took place at the University of St. Gallen, organized by Aiesec, and focused on the topic of Fair Trade.

The founder of the company Eco Terra, Dr. Carmina Alvarado De Van Bergerem, and her husband gave a very lively presentation on quinoa, the special grain. The started the company in 2006, importing Quinoa from Bolivia to Europe and also to the US. Quinoa is a unique cereal because it is gluten free and is very nutritious. The high quality quinoa grows above 4500 meters of altitude, a very challenging environment for humans, animals and plants. This is part of the reason why quinoa is both more nutritious, but also more expensive than other cereals. The UN has called 2013 the year of the Quinoa, emphasising the importance of this grain type to fight malnutrition in the world. You can use quinoa as cereal in the morning, to make soup or even to make quinoa-risotto, burgers or cereal bars. A great example of social business & looking forward to the webshop!


The day concluded with a panel moderated by Prof. Eppler: among the panelist there was Francesco Illy, of Illy caffe and founder of Amici Caffè, Tobias Meier of Helvetas/Max Havelaar, Dr. Christiane Berth of the university, Heiko Specking of Credit Suisse and Nicolas Niklewicz of Impact Economy.


Managing Multicultural Teams – Presentation

April 14, 2013

An excellent example of the use of Prezi for an interactive presentation was prepared by my students on the topic of Managing Multicultural Teams:

Based on: Adler, N.J. (2008). International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior. South-Western Cengage Learning: Mason OH, Fifth edition, pages: 131-147 (chapter 5).



Cultural differences in information seeking behaviors: evidence from an eye tracking study

April 14, 2013

Do people from different cultural backgrounds look at online information in the same way?

A very recent study – conducted with eye tracking technique – shows that Spaniard and Arab users have very different visual behaviors when attending information. In particular the experiment compared users scanning search results in Google. The results indicate that participants from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) spent more time on the search engine results page, read more results throughout the page and view each result in more details. In contrast the Spaniards read fewer options and typically attend more only the results on the top of the page.

Tha paper will be presented at the CHI 2013 workshop: Marcos, Mari-Carmen; García-Gavilanes, Ruth; Bataineh, Emad; Pasarin, Lara. Using Eye Tracking to Identify Cultural Differences in Information Seeking Behavior. Workshop Many People, Many Eyes. CHI’13, April 27-May 2, 2013, Paris, France.

These results support the conceptualization of a previous article “In Prise of Cultural Bias” published on MIT Sloan Management review, positing that Knowledge Management and Information Systems need to be adapted to local cultures.

See the video (in Catalan):

Business Communication in the Arab World

April 7, 2013

Dr. Annick Tonti just gave a very interesting guest lecture at the University of St. Gallen on “Working in the Arab World”

Based on her 40 years of experience in Asia and in particular in the Arab World, she shared with the students her insights on communicating with Arabs in business settings.

First she gave an introduction on the historical developments of the Arab World, a culture with 5 thousand years of history.

She stressed the importance to build a relationship with the business partner first: agreements and negotiations cannot be made straight away as in Western countries. “In the Middle East, they don’t do business if they don’t have a good relationship with you,” “They do not disassociate business and personal relationships.” For more details see:

Islamic banking is particular because it is usually based on Islamic law, the Sharia.These laws include the prohibition of taking interest, prohibition of unproductive speculation and prohibition of debt arrangements. What does it mean? Profit and loss are shared between the lender and the borrower.

Finally, Islamic law prohibits the financing of “sinful activities” (haram) such as the production of alcohol and tobacco or gambling.

%d bloggers like this: