Working across cultures

Cross-cultural communication is arguably more important today than in any other period of human history. Good collaboration will increasingly depend upon an individual’s ability to communicate effectively and appropriately across cultural boundaries. Cross-cultural communication is not limited to learning other languages, but also includes understanding how cultural patterns and core values impact the communication process—even when everyone is speaking the same language.

Cultural fit: An important criterion for effective interventions and evaluation work. In this 2015 paper Debbie Goodwin and colleagues point out that ‘cultural fit’ is a concept that can be applied to the effectiveness of one’s evaluation practice as well as the interventions that seek to help people. They argue that there is substantial vagueness about being culturally competent, or culturally responsive, or both, and that the concepts these terms are attempting to embody can be viewed better as a continuum of skills, knowledge, attitudes, and positioning.

Finding our way: Cultural competence and Pākehā evaluators. In this 2015 paper Rae Torrie and colleagues remind us that practitioner competence is a critical ingredient in the development of a robust, valid and equitable evaluation. The authors identify some particular challenges that Pākehā (New Zealand European) evaluators face in developing this competency for working in Māori and Pasifika settings. In grappling with these complex challenges, and in the absence of a pragmatic and systematic way of responding, the writers discuss the use of a heuristic they have developed that may aid enquiry and support evaluators to work in a culturally responsive manner.

www_iconThe Challenge of Working Across Cultures. This post by Deborah Mackin suggests that discussion of cultural difference benefits from using two well-known models: the GLOBE model of culture (power distance, collectivism in the organization, collectivism in society, uncertainty avoidance, assertiveness, gender egalitarianism, performance orientation, future orientation and humane orientation); and the Fons Trompenaars’ model  dealing with human relationships (universalist vs. particularist, individualist vs. collectivist, neutral vs. affective, specific vs. diffuse and achievement vs. ascription), one dealing with time (sequential vs. synchronic), and one dealing with nature (internal vs. external control).

Good practice guidelines for working with tangata whenua and Māori organisations: Consolidating our learning. These good practice guidelines from Garth Harmsworth are based on many years of learning by central and local government, crown research institutes, and Māori groups, using case studies, reports, papers, unpublished documents and personal communications. The information was summarised and collated to provide a record of what we have learnt about developing relationships between Māori groups and Crown agencies and the ways we measure that engagement performance from different perspectives – Māori and non-Māori.