Visual Metaphors in Intercultural Context

December 11, 2014

Today I’ll be giving a guest lecture on “Visualization & Visual Metaphors in Intercultural Context” in the Management Atlas master course at the University of St. Gallen. Here you can find the presentation:


Presentation link:

The references for this lecture are:

Bresciani S., Eppler M. (2010). Glocalizing visual communication in organizations, In: Bertagni, B., La Rosa M., Salvetti, F., Glocal working (pp. 233-251). Milan: Franco Angeli.

Bresciani, S. (2013). Organizational communication with visual mapping: Comparing East and West. In: D. Ingenhoff (Ed.), Internationale PR-Forschung (pp. 37-52). Konstanz: UVK Verlag.

Bresciani S. (2014). Do you see what I see? The effect of culture on the reception of visual communication. In: S. Poutiainen (Ed.), Theoretical Turbulence in Intercultural Communication Studies (pp. 81-100). Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Metaphors of culture: Kazakhstan

February 24, 2013

How can we describe the culture of a country?
The traditional approach is to use dimensions, and in particular Hofstede dimensions.

Yet there are several problems with this approach. For instance, how can we describe the culture of Kazakhstan,  a country with 17 million inhabitants and a territory of 2,727,300 square kilometres (larger than Western Europe)? Hofstede’s study doesn’t offer data for this country. And even if we know that it has a medium level of collectiving, high poer distance and high masculinity, what would we really know about the country?

Some researchers have proposed to use metaphors to describe cultures, including Gannon which proposes American Football for the American culture, the Symphnoy for German culture, and the Chinese family altat to describe Chinese culture. I thus always propose this exercise to my students, and results can be very surprising and insightful. As a result, this semester I even had a ‘visual’ metaphor of Kazakhstan, ideaded and drawn by Daniyar Davletbayev: the Wolf Pack.


Families and close friends act like a walf pack, always alert, scanning the territory, and defending the in-group.

From the metaphor you can get a feeling of the unsafety, suspicion and mistrust climate which are dominant in the country.

Economist’s map of the Internet: the realms of GAFA

December 12, 2012

A recent article on the Economist (1 Dec 2012) portrayed a map of the Internet, with the 4 big players: Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – abbreviated in GAFA.The articles itself is based ont he metaphor and continuously refers to the visual metaphor. The Economist is going visual 🙂

Thank you Martin for the hint

Windows 8 on Eee tablet pc

October 25, 2012

Windows 8 will be released tomorrow, and I got the chance to have a preview, testing it on a tablet Eee PC.

The metro interface is really a surprise and a remarkable difference from the traditional Windows interface. It resembles the graphic and interaction of a tablet or smart phone, but I assume that most computers don’t have a touch screen… so I don’t really see the advantage of having such big buttons. It seems a copy of the iphone/ipad interface, but it was copied poorly… a ‘samsung strategy’?!

Now, I would think that this interface is particularly suitable for tablet PCs with touch screen, like my Asus tablet. But… no! The metro interface doesn’t work on such netbooks because the minumum screen resolution is 1024 x 768 and most tablets PC have 1024 x 600, so you can’t use it!

Anyway, there are tricks to make it work if your computer has a smaller screen resolution.

In Windows 8 there is no start button, and you can’t really close the applications you opened, which seems kind of confusing. You have to pull out the menu from the right side of the screen toward the center. A few options will appear, including “option”, under which you find the buttons for switching off the computer and “start” which will take you to the metro interface.

The list of programs doesn’t exist anymore: you’ll find them in the metro interface, and you can re-arrange them as you like. This last option seems to make some sense. If you are missing the start button too much you can get it as an application, and get your computer to show the traditional desktop when it turns on.

Yet, since Microsoft made a considerable effort to create a completely new interface and a new interaction logic, I am not convinced that this one is really worth it. It would have been more useful to have a completely new “metaphor” – neither the desktop nor the big buttons – but for instance a new logic which groups items (docs, pics, emails, links) by theme rather than by application.

Thanks Diego for all the info and set up!

Visual Literacy for Management

September 20, 2012

The presentation of the course Visual Literacy for Management, which I teach at the University of St. Gallen, is now online in a completely new format: a prezi presentation with a temple metaphor. It is also potrayed as ‘Visualization of the month’ on

Note: you need a good internet connection to be able to open it

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