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: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/arabic/article.cfm?articleid=2730

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.


Infographics: twitter revolution in the Arab World

July 5, 2012

Certainly you have heard about the Twitter Revolution and the Arab Spring. A nice infographic on the topic has recently been published on Mashable. Impressive presence of Saudi Arabia.

Thank you Martin for the hint.


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