Our cross-cultural research is forthcoming in the journal Frontiers of Business Research in China

September 5, 2014

We are very glad that our cross-cultural research will be published in the journal “Frontiers of Business Research in China” (Vol. 8, issue 4). The article I wrote with Prof. Ge and N. Yaru, of the Central University of Finance and Economics, is titled “Improving Attitude toward Corporate Strategy with Visual Mapping: Scale Development and Application in Europe and China”.

In this paper we developed a scale of attitude toward a corporate strategy which is suitable both in Europe and in China. In fact we have testes all the questions of our newly developed scale in both countries. We have then used the scale to test the effect of a visual representation of a business strategy (compared to a classic textual description) in China and Europe. We found that when content is presented with both text and visual representations (together), people have a more positive attitute toward it. This effect is stronger in Europe, than in China.


Representations of knowledge in Africa

June 26, 2013
Professor Heike Winschiers has presented her interesting work at the Università della Svizzera italiana. Of German origin, she lives in Namibia since 20 years and conducts research on Human Computer Interaction in Africa.
Why is HCI different in Namibia compared to Europe or the U.S.? Because our thinking patter is different, as already proposed in 2005 by Pauleen and Murphy in “In praise of cultural bias” Published on MIT Sloan Management Review.
Heike and her team in Namibia are experimenting culturally friendly knowledge repositories. What does it mean? Look at the picture below:
on the left-hand side a typical German interface (produced by a German designer). Clean, clear, based on keyword. Too bad the rural Namibian people could not use it because they don’t generally use keywords or ask questions, and there are issues with the spelling of words (which could be spelled in many different ways).
Solution? On the right-hand side of the picture you can see a more culturally appropriate solution with images and videos.
Together with Kasper Rodil they are experimenting the use of visual approaches, in particular with the reconstruction of the local village in a 3D envirorment and embedded videos. Find out more on their website Namibia Knowledge Portal.
Heike Winschiers at USI
Kapuire, G. K., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Chivuno-Kurio, S., Bidwell, N. J., & Blake, E. (2010). Revolution in ICT, the last hope for African rural communities’ technology appropriation.
Rodil, K., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Bidwell, N. J., Eskildsen, S., Rehm, M., & Kapuire, G. K. (2011). A new visualization approach to re-contextualize indigenous knowledge in rural Africa. In Human-Computer Interaction–INTERACT 2011 (pp. 297-314). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

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):

Organizational communication across cultures with visual mapping: benefits and perils

March 24, 2013

Communicating across cultures is often a challenge: it is easy to imagine that visualization can help us overcome linguistic barriers, but it can actually do much more!

The benefits of visual mapping for cross-cultural communication can be summarized in five main factors:
1. Overcoming linguistic barriers.
2. Providing double cues: When the verbal or textual information is not clear, the visual element can support elaborations and understanding.
3. Seeing the big picture and the relations: Mapping ideas forces to provide links between the contributions. In presence of cultural
differences, this explicitation is useful to convey ideas more clearly.
4. Surface misunderstanding: Visualization, thanks to its concreteness, can help to surface assumptions and misunderstandings by triggering an open discussion.
5. Prevent personal conflict: when ideas are mapped onto a visualization, participants can express their disagreement by referencing the idea visualized, rather than the person who proposed it. This advantage of visual mapping can be particularly useful in intercultural meetings in which the Power Distance  of the participants’ culture is largely different.

However visualization is not free of dangers when used in cross-cultural context: misunderstanding can arise, cause by seven main factors:

1. Color.
2. Direction: In Arabic and in traditional Chinese language information is read from right to left.
3. Icons and symbols: a handshake symbolizes agreement only in the west. Fork and knife are perceived as an exotic symbol in Asia.
4. Humor: humour is culturally dependent.
5. Visual metaphors: sport metaphors are not understood in coutries where that sport is not practiced.
6. Focus of attention: Westerners focus on the main central objects at the expenses of the background, and Asians focus equally on the background as on the foreground (Nisbett, 2003).
7. Nature of thought: Westerners prefer linear and analytical diagrams while Asians prefer more holistic types of visualizations such as visual metaphors.

If you are interested in more details you can check out my recent publication:  Bresciani, S. (2013). Organizational communication with visual mapping: Comparing East and West. In D. Ingenhoff (Ed.), Internationale PR-Forschung. Konstanz: UVK Verlag.


Comunicazione e formazione in altre realtà culturali

May 10, 2012

Al convegno “Comunicazione e formazione per il progresso della società contemporanea”, che si terrà l’11 maggio 2012 a Gravedona ed Uniti (Como), organizzato da “Quaderni” (programma del convegno), presenterò alcune riflessioni sul tema”Comunicazione e formazione in altre realtà culturali”.


WEIRD people: cultural differences in reasoning style and visual perception

September 19, 2010

When we travel to exotic countries, especially developing nations, we often find the locals to be kind of weird. But let’s be honest, we are the weird ones, because we are the minority.

I was very glad to find that some scholars had the same thought, and just published their research on the dangers of relying on Western samples for generalizing to the human population. As I previously posted, there is evidence of differences in visual perceptions and decision making across cultures (see Nisbett, The Geography of Thought), but few scientist have been investigating the topic.

Luckily a new era seems about to start.
Nature and Science have been covering the topic, reporting the results of a study on “The weirdest people in the world” by Henrich, Heine & Norenzayan (Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 2010), where WEIRD stands for
societies. They show how the result of experiments conducted in the United States and other industrialized societies are not representative of the human population as a whole.
Of particular interest for Knowledge Visualization is the difference in visual perception and spatial cognition. For example the Muller-Lyer illusion (in the picture below) seems to be stronger for westerners than for small-scale traditional societies. Similarly, in most of comparative studies Westerners, and particularly Americans, “occupy the extreme end of the human distribution” (pg.5).

There seems to be a general trend toward an understanding of the need to consider non-western perspectives, as confirmed by the next Academy of Management meeting theme “West meets East”
Stay tuned for our forthcoming experimental results comparing Europe and Asia 😉

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I-KNOW10 Knowledge visualization

September 2, 2010

Our poster at the I-KNOW 10 conference: Conveying Strategy Knowledge Using Visualization vs. Text: Empirical Evidence from Asia and Europe

Click to download pdf

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