The Use of Business Games as a Way of Identifying and
 Addressing Conflicts in Intercultural Communication


             ...
Abstract


This paper investigates the use of business games as a way of identifying and addressing
conflicts in intercult...
Declaration




I hereby declare that the work contained in this dissertation entitled “The Use of Business
Games as a Way...
Acknowledgments



A very special thank you is dedicated to Dianne Hofner Saphiere, who has kindly agreed to
assist me wit...
Table of Contents


Abstract ................................................................................................
CHAPTER 5 – ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION .........................................................................................
INTRODUCTION



CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION

The aim of this paper is to critically evaluate the theory on intercultural comm...
INTRODUCTION


In the second section, a review of business games will be presented, beginning with a brief
historical over...
INTRODUCTION


Moreover, both software-based and traditional business (board-) games will be investigated in
a separate se...
LITERATURE REVIEW



CHAPTER 2 – LITERATURE REVIEW


SECTION A: INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION



The area of conflicts in in...
LITERATURE REVIEW


The interpretive approach presents a different view from the social sciences viewpoint, as it
captures...
LITERATURE REVIEW


each one of them is a valuable contribution to the knowledge gained (Martin and Nakayama,
2009). The g...
LITERATURE REVIEW


social role we are embracing in a given context (e.g. our behaviour at a particular profession),
histo...
LITERATURE REVIEW


escalate and have destructive outcomes (Ting-Toomey, 2007). Mead (2004) argues that
communicative comp...
LITERATURE REVIEW


be, it is highly probable that he/she will be able to relate to the difficulties in communication
betw...
LITERATURE REVIEW


be used as guidelines for intercultural communication, strengthening the argument that every
person is...
LITERATURE REVIEW


Fig. 2 – Different National Value Lenses


        India                Argentina                Brazi...
LITERATURE REVIEW


et al (1998) focused on the subject of conflict in collaboration, and despite the fact that their
work...
LITERATURE REVIEW


counterproductive given the fact that conflict resolution can be exceedingly time-consuming.
Nonethele...
LITERATURE REVIEW


differing cultures as being abnormal. Naturally, as outlined by Barna (1994), this is the wrong
attitu...
LITERATURE REVIEW


eliminate them from our mind (Barna, 1994). Even on a subconscious level, such stereotypes
may influen...
LITERATURE REVIEW


Conflict Resolution in Multicultural Settings


Virtually all companies operating or collaborating int...
LITERATURE REVIEW


Yet, it should be noted that the use of the terms “Western” or “Asian” may not always be
optimal for d...
LITERATURE REVIEW


a “third culture” (Ting-Toomey, 2007; pp. 259), in which both parties are comfortable dealing
with.

F...
LITERATURE REVIEW


Gosen and Washbush (1998) indicates that consensus has been reached on certain
characteristics directl...
LITERATURE REVIEW


from making a bad decision (except eventually losing the game), in addition to being a source of
feedb...
LITERATURE REVIEW




Intercultural Communication in Business Games


As analysed in section 1, the field of intercultural...
LITERATURE REVIEW


However, the trend was to shift from a cognitive method towards a more “affective” technique
which enc...
LITERATURE REVIEW


The following paragraph is examining the work of Hofstede and Pedersen (1999) who
investigated the sub...
LITERATURE REVIEW


The inherent difficulty lies in the steps subsequent to the culture clash, i.e. using the learning
poi...
LITERATURE REVIEW


provides an introduction to the difficulties that real businesses face. However, the authors
argue tha...
LITERATURE REVIEW


Nonetheless, attempting to measure the actual degree and extent of knowledge that has been
obtained ca...
LITERATURE REVIEW


Along the same line, Wolfe and Crookall (1998) stressed their thesis that in order to be able to
corre...
LITERATURE REVIEW


In his guide on business game design, Fripp (1993) presents numerous variables that are to be
taken in...
LITERATURE REVIEW


use of computers (Morgan, 2000; pp. 494). To an extent, this degree of knowledge and
expertise is not ...
LITERATURE REVIEW


Donath (1998) also identified pitfalls in computerised games when attempting to evaluate
behaviour, gi...
LITERATURE REVIEW


       “The agent’s ability to solve problems becomes a function of the agent’s openness, which
      ...
LITERATURE REVIEW


focused on collaborative games, a relatively new category which, according to the authors, in
both hig...
LITERATURE REVIEW


major learning points that Zagal et al (2006) have concluded on (Zagal et al, 2006; pp. 30).
Moreover,...
LITERATURE REVIEW


points of the analysis together, in order to better illustrate how business games can best be
used to ...
LITERATURE REVIEW


2007). Further crucial aspects include the need for maximum realism in the game in order to
achieve th...
METHODOLOGY




CHAPTER 3 - METHODOLOGY


In this section of the paper, the research methodology of this paper will be pre...
METHODOLOGY


knowledge by presenting new outcomes and synthesising previous views in order to address
the questions at ha...
METHODOLOGY


also contains certain elements of exploratory research. The reasoning behind this approach is
to be sensitiv...
METHODOLOGY


Moreover, Yin (1994) added that both single or multiple-case designs can be effective, however
in order to a...
METHODOLOGY


       projects, building community, working in and leading teams, resolving conflict and
       creating so...
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication
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The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication

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MSc thesis by Eleni Katsoula, copyright Warwick University

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The Use Of Business Games As A Way Of Identifying And Addressing Conflicts In Intercultural Communication

  1. 1. The Use of Business Games as a Way of Identifying and Addressing Conflicts in Intercultural Communication BY ELENI KATSOULA SUPERVISED BY: HONGHONG DAI A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE IN INTERNATIONAL TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT WARWICK MANUFACTURING GROUP SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK AUGUST 2009
  2. 2. Abstract This paper investigates the use of business games as a way of identifying and addressing conflicts in intercultural communication following an approach consisting elements of literature based research, scrutinised and validated by primary data collection through the use of the non-computerised game “Ecotonos”. This subject area is deemed to be of utmost importance in an increasingly internationalised business world, as conflicts in intercultural communication still represent one of the major obstacles to effective global collaboration. This study has corroborated the notions underlining the importance of bridging cultures through a mutual process of respectful, well-intended, collaborative communication. Additionally, the aspect of leveraging diversity has been investigated. The validity of business games as educational tools has been examined and largely confirmed, as a clear learning process could be proven throughout the data analysis of this dissertation. Furthermore, intercultural conflict management has been explored, where ineffective communication has been identified as a major source of conflict. Thus, a framework for overcoming obstacles to effective intercultural communication has been introduced, in addition to recommendations on how conflict scenarios can be channelled into stimuli of productivity and ambition. The main finding was that the adoption of a perspective where intercultural communication is being viewed in context each time, with a non-judgemental and open attitude. Emerging findings paved the way for further research in the directions of cultivating trust through simulation gaming, agent-based modelling for gaining further insight into behavioural variations, as well as emotional intelligence, providing further guidelines on how emotions can be managed to facilitate intercultural learning. i
  3. 3. Declaration I hereby declare that the work contained in this dissertation entitled “The Use of Business Games as a Way of Identifying and Addressing Conflicts in Intercultural Communication” is the product of my own research and analysis, unless otherwise acknowledged through the use of references. I confirm that this work has not been previously submitted for academic purposes. Signed: …………………………………………. Date: ……………………………………………. ii
  4. 4. Acknowledgments A very special thank you is dedicated to Dianne Hofner Saphiere, who has kindly agreed to assist me with guidelines on how to use the business game “Ecotonos” and how to extract learning points for my research. I am very grateful for all the help and support, and also highly pleased to have had the privilege of being consulted by her. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisor Honghong Dai for her continuous support throughout the progress of this dissertation, and for giving me the flexibility of directing my own research. Moreover, I would like to express my gratitude to Dee Nicholls, who has helped me significantly through sharing her expertise and contacts with me. I am deeply grateful for the trust and kindness she has shown me. I would also like to cordially thank my friends who took part in the data collection of this dissertation. Their devotion, professionalism and enthusiasm made the completion of this research possible and also highly enjoyable. Finally, I would like thank my family for always being there for me throughout my academic life, and for enabling me to pursue my chosen studies. For this gift I will be forever grateful... iii
  5. 5. Table of Contents Abstract ......................................................................................................................................................... i Declaration................................................................................................................................................... ii Acknowledgments...................................................................................................................................... iii CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................................ 1 CHAPTER 2 – LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................................... 4 SECTION A: INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION ......................................................................................... 4 A brief introduction to cross-cultural communication ............................................................................. 4 Dialectics ............................................................................................................................................... 5 Challenges in Intercultural communication.......................................................................................... 7 Conflict in collaboration.......................................................................................................................... 11 Sources of conflict in intercultural communication................................................................................ 13 Conflict Resolution in Multicultural Settings .......................................................................................... 16 SECTION B: Benefits, Attributes and Utility of Business Games ................................................................. 18 Historical Overview of Research in the Field of Business Games ........................................................... 18 Purposes of business games ................................................................................................................... 19 Intercultural Communication in Business Games................................................................................... 21 The Pedagogical Aspect of Business Games ........................................................................................... 24 Computerised Business Games.............................................................................................................. 27 Board Games........................................................................................................................................... 31 Final Remarks.......................................................................................................................................... 33 CHAPTER 3 - METHODOLOGY ..................................................................................................................... 36 Case Study Method................................................................................................................................. 37 Case Study: Ecotonos.............................................................................................................................. 39 Game Attributes.................................................................................................................................. 39 Simulation guidelines of Ecotonos...................................................................................................... 40 CHAPTER 4 – RESULTS................................................................................................................................. 44 Run 1 – Building a Community................................................................................................................ 44 Run 2 – Building a Bridge ........................................................................................................................ 47 Improvements in Learning ...................................................................................................................... 50 iv
  6. 6. CHAPTER 5 – ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION .................................................................................................. 52 Framework for Harmonious Intercultural Communication .................................................................... 52 Understanding the Task and Getting to Know the New Culture(s) .................................................... 54 Understanding the Principles of the New Culture(s) .......................................................................... 54 Thinking Beyond Own Preconceptions of the Task ............................................................................ 55 Conveying Ideas and Concepts Respectively ...................................................................................... 55 Mutual Benefits and Respect.............................................................................................................. 56 Trust .................................................................................................................................................... 57 Validity of Business Games as Tools for Facilitating Intercultural Communication: Strengths and Weaknesses ............................................................................................................................................ 58 Impact of Findings on Intercultural Collaboration and Conflict Management Practices and how these can be transferred to Businesses............................................................................................................ 60 Practical Recommendations for Identifying and Addressing Conflicts in Intercultural Communication63 Limitations of This Study......................................................................................................................... 65 CHAPTER 5 - CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................................................ 67 APPENDICES ................................................................................................................................................ 71 REFERENCES................................................................................................................................................ 76 BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................................................ 82 v
  7. 7. INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION The aim of this paper is to critically evaluate the theory on intercultural communication as a means of identifying sources of conflict, and examine various possible ways of addressing them. For this purpose, the use of business games as educational tools will be explored, from a brief introduction of their functions up to a more granular level, where they may be applied to the management of intercultural conflict. The research objectives are to: a) review the capabilities of business games in cultural learning b) determine ways of identifying intercultural conflicts via simulation settings c) use a business game to identify intercultural communication conflicts d) synthesise the theory from the literature with the primary data obtained to make recommendations on how conflicts in intercultural communications can be addressed and suggest how to transfer the learning outcomes can be transferred to business reality. For millennia there have been conflicts in communication across cultures, and given the increasing phenomenon of globalisation we are currently facing, addressing such issues becomes more and more important. Nonetheless, is should be noted that the purpose of this paper is not to solve historical quarrels or find means of addressing political or religious disagreements. The intention is to examine possibilities and learning opportunities in order to improve cross-cultural understanding in a collaborative business scenario, where business games will be evaluated as a tool of enabling this learning process. In the first chapter of this dissertation will be the literature review, where in the first section, theories from the field of intercultural communication will be presented within the proposed frame of reference, investigating sources of conflict, as well as culturally mediated frameworks of conflict management in order to draw valuable guidelines on how to effectively address such situations. 1
  8. 8. INTRODUCTION In the second section, a review of business games will be presented, beginning with a brief historical overview of developments in the field in order to illustrate the related efforts that have been made. Moreover, the purposes of business games will be examined, following an appraisal of their effectiveness, validity and measurability as pedagogical tool. The most suitable techniques for facilitating intercultural communication through a simulation setting will be identified through a combination of academic theory and relevant empirical studies. As part of the data collection and analysis of this dissertation, the business game “Ecotonos” (developed by Dianne Hofner Saphiere, 2008; 3rd edition) will be used to test the theory discussed in the literature review, with the aim of empirically identifying sources of conflict and thus providing the foundation of deducting practical suggestions in the field of conflict management in intercultural communications to organisations operating internationally. Given the fact that the literature on culture as well as communication studies is vast, this study will be gradually narrowed down to examining the harmonisation of cross-cultural communication behaviours in particular. Both national- and organisational culture play a vital role in this investigation; however these areas, whilst being acknowledged and referred to, will not be explored into a great amount of detail in order to remain specific to the research objective at hand. Similarly, as will be analysed in the second section, a large variety of business games are known. For the intents and purposes of the methodology, business games addressing intercultural communication specifically will be examined more thoroughly, as an in depth review of all other varieties would cause a loss of focus and not directly contribute to the aim of the research. In order to introduce the subject however, various forms of business games as well as their main purposes will be discussed in order to get a better overview of the field. 2
  9. 9. INTRODUCTION Moreover, both software-based and traditional business (board-) games will be investigated in a separate section, weighing the benefits and detriments of both types of tools, as well as their usefulness to improving communications across cultures. 3
  10. 10. LITERATURE REVIEW CHAPTER 2 – LITERATURE REVIEW SECTION A: INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION The area of conflicts in intercultural communication in business games has been addressed by a number of authors (Barna, 1994; Hofstede and Pedersen, 1999; Martin and Nakayama, 2009; Morgan, 2000, Ting-Toomey, 2007). This chapter will present a brief introduction to intercultural communication and conflict management, as well as aim at exploring the sources on cross-cultural conflicts and identifying ways of addressing them effectively according to research and literature in the field. Moreover, approaches to handling such conflict scenarios will be introduced and later synthesised with existing and potential business game capabilities in section B. A brief introduction to cross-cultural communication The field of cross-cultural communications has gained significant momentum over the past years and has therefore been given particular attention by academics. Martin and Nakayama (2009) categorised it into three traditional concepts, namely the social sciences-, interpretive and critical approach (pp. 71-72). Each of these approaches presents its own perspective on intercultural communication and provides insight to various aspects on how we view culture. The social sciences approach aids people to predict the behaviour of others through the identification of particular communication patterns. It is based on the assumptions that culture is an “external reality” that can be depicted, behaviours are predictable and culture is a quantifiable variable. 4
  11. 11. LITERATURE REVIEW The interpretive approach presents a different view from the social sciences viewpoint, as it captures intercultural communication from a more subjective behavioural angle. More specifically, the underlying paradigm is that all experiences are personal, and that human behaviour cannot be straightforwardly predicted, as it is a creative process. Conversely, the critical approach, whilst entailing certain elements of the interpretive approach, increasingly focuses on “macrocontexts, such as political and social structures that influence communication” (Martin and Nakayama, 2009; pp. 65). Whilst all three concepts present a valid perspective on how to view intercultural communication and its effects on behaviour, in many cases these approaches, when used in isolation from one another, may not be the best way of examining the subect at hand, given the fact that some influencial elements of behaviour are bound to be disregarded. The following section on dialectics will be adressing this gap in more detail. Dialectics An interesting addition that Martin and Nakayama (2009) make to the field is through their work on dialectics. The meaning of dialectics is twofold, and the authors define it as: “(1) A method of logic based on the principle that an idea generates its opposite, leading to reconciliation of the opposites; (2 )the complex and paradoxical relationship between two opposite qualities or entities, each of which may be referred to as dialectic” (Martin and Nakayama, 2009; pp. 73) In the context of cross-cultural communication, this concept it used to gain a more spherical and fully-encompassing view of the field through combining the three traditional concepts mentioned above together. By doing so, the authors deliberately create contradictory theses, in order to escape the habit of dichotomous thinking of “right or wrong”, “black or white”. They argue that intercultural communication can be viewed from numerous perspectives, and that 5
  12. 12. LITERATURE REVIEW each one of them is a valuable contribution to the knowledge gained (Martin and Nakayama, 2009). The graph below (Fig. 1) illustrates the six dialectics of intercultural communication that the authors have identified: Fig. 1 - Six dialectics of intercultural communication Cultural - Individual History (Past) - Privilege - Present - Disadvantage Future Personal - Static - Contextual Dynamic Differences - Similarities Source: based on Martin and Nakayama (2009) In brief, these dialectics show that people’s behaviour can be shaped equally by contradicting factors, such as national culture and individual idiosyncrasies of personality, the particular 6
  13. 13. LITERATURE REVIEW social role we are embracing in a given context (e.g. our behaviour at a particular profession), historical influences and contemporary events, the fact that people may be privileged in a given socio-cultural aspect but simultaneously disadvantaged in others, and the fact that whilst certain cultural aspects remain unchanged over centuries, others may be dynamic and continuously evolving. Actively acknowledging these factors is of chief importance, as they are an indirect prerequisite to appreciating, understanding and subsequently effectively communicating with other cultures or cultural groups (Martin and Nakayama, 2009). Evidently, in comparison to the aforementioned three traditional approaches to intercultural communication, the study on dialectics provides a much more illuminating and wide-ranging view of culturally-mediated factors influencing people’s behaviour. Whilst these six dialectics form the core of Martin and Nakayama’s (2009) theory, it may be argued that social scientist may discover more conflicting interrelations as well, paving the way for future research. On a similar subject, the following subsection will concentrate on the various intricacies that emerge in intercultural communication, with the intention of setting the scene for conflict management and resolution in an intercultural context, as per the objectives of this paper. Challenges in Intercultural communication Evidently, whichever angle intercultural communication is viewed from, there are numerous difficulties and challenges that we are faced with. Mead (1994) advocated the notion that communication, in its essence, is a mutual process. In order for it to be effective, all parties involved are faced with the challenge of finding a common ground where their messages can be conveyed as intended. Evidently, in cross-cultural communication, the greater the cultural distance between two or more parties, the more complex it is to be bridged and the more likely will be the chance of creating misunderstandings (Mead, 1994; pp. 9). In many cases, not being able to find an unbiased shared platform to communicate effectively across cultures can 7
  14. 14. LITERATURE REVIEW escalate and have destructive outcomes (Ting-Toomey, 2007). Mead (2004) argues that communicative competence needs to be developed, enabling individuals to sensitively view communication behaviours in a cultural context and not through their own eyes. Notably, effective communication requires a mutual understanding of the prerequisites that underlie it; hence, an effort to comprehend each other ought to be actively made by all parties involved. An interesting aspect of communication lies in the influence that cultural factors have on our perceptions that subsequently determine our behaviours to a great extent. In any case, it is of paramount importance not to compare other cultures to one’s own and to fully respect other cultures’ attributes manifested in their communicative behaviour. More specifically, Mead (1994) argues that it is highly unpractical to consider one particular culture as being superior to another and attempting to force it upon others. However, even though the author acknowledges the fact that this represents a moral issue as well, it needs to be stressed that ethics are vital in the business world, and ought to be given more emphasis in such discussions. Admittedly, practical issues to effective communications are noteworthy and recommended to be pursued, yet ethics should play a more predominant role in this hierarchy of priorities and drivers of intercultural communication. Dr. George Simons, an experienced consultant in cultural and gender diversity, posits the thesis that, indeed, our behaviour is influenced by our culture; however, he also presents the viewpoint of gender being an influential factor to one’s culture in addition to the commonly mentioned impact of nationality. He argues that being male or female is a culture in itself, “speaking a different language” and behaving differently. Consequently, the communication between genders in its own nature also constitutes a form of a cross-cultural scenario. This analogy presents an interesting angle when looking at intercultural communications, due to the fact that, however limited an individual’s familiarity with other national cultures might 8
  15. 15. LITERATURE REVIEW be, it is highly probable that he/she will be able to relate to the difficulties in communication between genders. It should be noted that this paper does not intend to look at gender issues in any detail; however this perspective may be seen as a valuable insight to the subject at hand, providing an alternative and habitually unstated thesis in the field. Along the same line, Marcel, Randall and Saphiere (2008) outlined the importance of individuality in their work on global business ethics (GBE). In parallel with Simons, they argue that people’s behaviours are influenced by a plethora of cultural factors, ranging farther from gender and nationality onto their educational background, age, socioeconomic level and religious beliefs to mention a few. The perspective adopted here, is to view each individual as a unique personality, whose behaviour is forged by its entire environment. To illustrate this with a personal example, I myself was born in Greece, grew up in Germany and studied in the UK. When I return to my home country, I am being not being perceived as “one of the Greeks”, and similarly in Germany and the UK I am not “one of them” either. In fact, given my background I am closer to being characterised as “European” and following my numerous acquaintances and friendships with people from all over the world one could even argue that my behaviour has “international” elements to it as well. This point, at least from my perspective, validates the notions advocated above and demonstrates that indeed, every person’s personality is forged in its own way throughout various stages of one’s lifetime. Learning to understand a person from a different background and acknowledging the existing differences is meant to be used as a tool for encouraging healthy communication and not to predict behaviour for one’s advantage (Marcel, Randall and Saphiere, 2008). As the authors outline, it is important to observe other people’s behaviour through different unbiased and non-judgemental “lenses”, whilst keeping in mind that interpretation of a given situation may vary from individual to individual. Moreover, it is stressed that cultural standards are merely to 9
  16. 16. LITERATURE REVIEW be used as guidelines for intercultural communication, strengthening the argument that every person is unique and does not necessarily match a given cultural profile due to the diversity of the influences shaping his/her behaviour. The authors underline the concept of embracing diversity, as despite the great difficulties that may arise from this effort, it represents an excellent learning opportunity which has significant potential of improving intercultural communications. Examples of national value lenses are outlined in the figure below (Fig. 2), illustrating the vast variety of behavioural fundaments across the globe that culturally influence communication behaviour to a great extent, whilst, as previously mentioned, are not set in stone but depict overall national cultural parameters (Marcel, Randall and Saphiere, 2008). 10
  17. 17. LITERATURE REVIEW Fig. 2 – Different National Value Lenses India Argentina Brazil Russia • Family/ • Trust & • Multi- • Friendship Community Closeness directional • Soulfulness Ties • Warmth Attention (Sincerity of • Personal - • "Street • Flexibility Emotion) Relationship Smarts" • Relationships • Creative Orientation • Ingenuity/ • Status Problem - • Hierarchy Spontaneity • Face Solving Conscious • Frankness • Fatalism • Cyclical Time • Perseverance Orientation (Stamina for • Contextual Survival) Worldview U.S.A. Arab Gulf China Germany • Speed • Non- • Face • Order • Self-Reliance confrontation • Family • Thoroughness • Control • Religion and • Relationships • Rationality • Equality God's Will • Nationalism • Education & • Capitalism • Family Comes • Harmony Training Frist • Environmental • Law & Order • Prosperity • Personal Consciousness • Speaking Up • Hierarchy Relationship Orientation • Protective of Women Based on: Marcel, Randall and Saphiere, 2008, “Cultural Detective: Global Business Ethics Conflict in collaboration When trying to identify the sources of conflict in intercultural communications, it can be helpful to first examine the nature of conflict itself on a wider spectrum and in similar milieus, in order and to draw valuable parallels from the lessons learned resulting from research in these fields. Xie 11
  18. 18. LITERATURE REVIEW et al (1998) focused on the subject of conflict in collaboration, and despite the fact that their work is centred on inter-functional communication, the points they make also apply to a multicultural simulation setting and are therefore worth considering, more specifically because they can help understand the sources of conflict and how it can be managed. The authors argue that conflict in communication can have both positive and negative influences on collaboration. On one side, it creates a thought-provoking environment where the generation of new ideas is directly encouraged as a consequence of people actively trying to strengthen their position and reinforcing their arguments. Moreover, their studies have found that conflict also motivates mobility of information, i.e. employees across departments are indirectly being given incentive to provide all the related information to sustain their ideas and beliefs (Xie et al, 1998). Given the fact that business games simulate an organisational setting, these findings may be transferred and interpreted in the framework of this dissertation. Evidently, such a form of conflict manifested in competition, as long as it is “healthy” and stimulates constructive discussion, may be considered as a useful feature in business games. Essentially, it represents productive ambition that in turn increases motivation and performance. On the other side, naturally conflict can have disruptive effects on collaboration as well. When being ambitious and having a strong team motivation, there is a risk of teams becoming too egocentric about their particular department and not act in the best interest of the organisation as a whole (Xie et al, 1998). To illustrate this with an example and also relate it to business games, teams simulating a supply chain as known in the Beer Game developed by the MIT may behave selfishly and opportunistically out of personal ambition and a sense of winning rather than cooperating in order to integrate their supply chain and reap the benefits that arise from a sound and mutually advantageous collaboration. Moreover, Xie et al (1998) argue that conflict situations may swiftly become emotional and difficult to control as they intensify, causing people to become offended and unwilling to cooperate, in addition to being highly 12
  19. 19. LITERATURE REVIEW counterproductive given the fact that conflict resolution can be exceedingly time-consuming. Nonetheless, cultural diversity can be very beneficial to an organisation. According to Maznewski (1994; cited in Joynt and Warner, 1996), being increasingly aware of cross-cultural variations can considerably improve team performance. Sources of conflict in intercultural communication In management theory, the field of culture is exceedingly wide-ranging; hence it cannot be wholly defined by one particular description. Joynt and Warner (1996) consolidated the work of Czinkota and Ronkainen (1993), Hofstede (1991) and Trompenaars (1993) into attempting to summarise culture as being the synthesis of behavioural manners and mind-sets, core beliefs, traditional values that have been forged by ethnicity to a great extent. Subsequently, conflict management across cultures can be an exceedingly difficult task to manage, given the inherent complexity of cultures themselves. Thus, an attempt to address such issues requires special attention to paid to certain factors, as will be explained in the following paragraphs. Barna (1994, published in Bennett, 1998) communicated the importance of being aware of intercultural differences rather than avoiding them. The author brought across six “stumbling blocks in intercultural communication” which identify the source of conflict that occurs in many cases when cultures clash. The first one is the assumption that, in essence, all humans are similar and have the same needs. However, as Barna (1994) argues, this conjecture is a cause of major quandaries, as people do not directly acknowledge the existence of differences. Rather, the tendency exists to regard one’s own cultural beliefs and habits as being the norm and assume that other cultures ought to be familiar with it, even though they are not practicing it. This leads to an “ethnocentric” attitude which merely aggravates cross-cultural communication instead of facilitating it. In fact, it is only possible to address conflicts in intercultural communication by realising and respecting that various cultures can be intrinsically different, and that no one “correct” or standard culture exists. Holliday, Hyde and Kullman (2004) refer to the phenomenon of “otherisation”, where people view culture as being the norm and consider 13
  20. 20. LITERATURE REVIEW differing cultures as being abnormal. Naturally, as outlined by Barna (1994), this is the wrong attitude to adopt in a multicultural scenario. Logically, further influential factors are differences in spoken and unspoken language, including various gestures, facial expressions as well as pauses. As an example, the author states that the custom of smiling at strangers which is prevalent in countries such as the United States is not practiced at all in Korea; consequently, Koreans might be perceived as being rude by Americans when in fact that is not the case at all. The difference in culture here lies in the fact that in Korea, people only smile at their friends, and friendships are very deep, forged over a long period of time and based on a strong sense of trust and familiarity. This does not apply to mere acquaintances, let alone strangers. Moreover, apart from the obvious obstacle of different languages and hence different verbal expressions, there are further nonverbal misinterpretations that can be a source of friction. In the words of Barma (1994): “People from different cultures inhabit different sensory realities. They see, hear, feel and smell only that which has some meaning or importance to them” (in Bennett, 1998; pp. 180) Following the author’s illustrative points, one can clearly understand the importance of getting to know another culture in order to avoid misunderstanding or conflict. Subsequently, a further pitfall to be avoided is being judgemental (Barna, 1994). Evidently, at least giving the other person the benefit of the doubt until getting to learn his/her culture is essential, as the instinctive criticism caused by unfamiliar stimuli can create misunderstandings and negative preconceptions in cases when all parties have the best intentions. Quite rightly, the author argues that letting go of stereotypes and preconceptions in an important step towards cross- cultural understanding. Given the fact that such labels have been a part of our societal environments and people are exposed to them from their early childhood, it may be difficult to 14
  21. 21. LITERATURE REVIEW eliminate them from our mind (Barna, 1994). Even on a subconscious level, such stereotypes may influence our way of thinking and as a consequence determine a number of our decisions. Particularly on an international business level, this mentality can lead to a loss of opportunities or unfruitful collaborations. Thus, individuals need to learn to listen, observe and realise other cultures in order to learn to communicate with them effectively. Further sources of intercultural conflict have been investigated by Hofstede and Pedersen (1999). The authors argue that very frequently, a situation presents itself where two parties from a different cultural background become frustrated and angry with one another, because they are offended, puzzled or feel deceived by the manner the opposite party is interacting. In most cases, people do not engage in a verbal intercourse to disagree and confuse the other person; rather, conflict in intercultural communication arises when one “plays the social game” by rules the other has not come across and therefore fails to recognise. In essence, according to the authors, conflict arises due to unfamiliarity and lack of capability to follow the other party’s thought process very accurately, which goes in line with the arguments of Barna (1994) mentioned above. This hypothesis may be considered valid in many cases, yet a certain degree of critique should be applied here. It may be argued that conflicts also largely stem from differences in opinion, partly influenced my one’s national or individual mentality. Evidently, intercultural conflict can have the same sources as any other type of conflict between two parties based on the content of the discussion rather than on the way it is being carried out and the means that are chosen to convey certain messages. Nevertheless, Hofstede and Pedersen’s (1999) thesis is of significant interest to keep in mind, as identifying the rules of a culture’s “social game” can be the first step towards understanding a culture and subsequently aiming at addressing conflicts in communication. 15
  22. 22. LITERATURE REVIEW Conflict Resolution in Multicultural Settings Virtually all companies operating or collaborating internationally face obstacles caused by conflicts in intercultural communication. This is also largely the issue why conflict resolution in multicultural settings has been given emphasis in academic research. The work of Ting-Toomey (1997; 2004; 2005; 2007) is of particular interest, as it gives an additional perspective to this study. She developed the “face-negotiation theory” (Ting-Toomey, 1988; 2004), examining drivers and consequences of behaviours that cause the saving or loss of a group’s or person’s societal sense of self, a.k.a. their “face” which essentially equals to what they believed to be perceived as by others. According to the author, face is being lost when this self-worth perception we have of ourselves or of the group we belong to is being disputed or disregarded (Ting-Toomey, 2007; pp. 256-257). Moreover, cultural distance plays a vital role in conflict resolution, as it is posited that it positively correlates with potential misinterpretation. To illustrate this with an example, two or more cultures whose fundamental differences route in culture distance attributable to historic grievances, as may be found in Cyprus between Greek- and Turkish Cypriots, are more likely to be misapprehended in a conflict resolution attempt. Concurrently, the author argues that, different cultures, depending on whether they have the tendency of being collectivist or individualist, manifest differing conflict coping mechanisms. The research of Kaushal and Kwantes (2006) has shown significant variations between Western and Asian conflict resolution methods, e.g. in strongly collectivist Asian countries such as China, the conflict avoidance technique may be perceived as being for the greater good of all parties involved, whereas in Western individualist countries such as Germany or the U.S. it is likely to be seen as a fleeing tactic, having the opposite outcome. From these illustrations, it becomes evident that misunderstandings are easily caused when a certain message is trying to be indirectly conveyed. As previously mentioned, even though both parties may have the best intentions of solving a disagreement, by choosing different resolution techniques they are likely to aggravate it even further. 16
  23. 23. LITERATURE REVIEW Yet, it should be noted that the use of the terms “Western” or “Asian” may not always be optimal for describing intercultural conflicts, as there are significant variations within these blocks themselves which cannot be generalised to that extent. For example, India and Japan both belong to Asia but are innately different cultures, as it can be said in a similar comparison of e.g. Germany and Italy. Whilst such terms may depict an overall picture, they often do not apply to individual countries; a fact that should be kept in mind when dealing with a group of multicultural individuals in order to avoid stereotyping. Subsequent to the portrayal of conflict sources in intercultural communication, resolution and training methods have been developed accordingly. Ting-Toomey (2007) emphasised the importance of “intercultural facework competence”, being “the optimal integration of knowledge, mindfulness, and communication skills in managing vulnerable identity-based conflict situations appropriately, effectively and adaptively” (Ting-Toomey, 2007; pp. 257). This citation captures the essence cross-cultural conflict management, agreeing with Barna’s (1994) notions which have been analysed in the previous sub-section. In more detail, Ting-Toomey (2007) argues that, initially, it is essential to gather relevant knowledge on the other culture in order to become familiar with their customs, practices, beliefs and values. This way, major involuntary pitfalls may be avoided and individuals learn to better appraise actions from a non- ethnocentric perspective, through gaining a better understanding of the other culture’s facework concepts. The mindfulness she refers to may be described as an attentive, bias-free and non-judgemental attitude towards another culture. Like in any inter-human relationship, the importance of deep listening without preconceptions is being stressed, treating all behavioural information as if it was new. As Bennett and Bennett (2004) point out, learning to view a conflict scenario through the eyes of the other culture can significantly help towards improving intercultural conflict resolution and is a major aspect of cross-cultural training. Additionally, when the culture-based frameworks are understood, a valid attempt to bridge cross-cultural conflicts may be to create 17
  24. 24. LITERATURE REVIEW a “third culture” (Ting-Toomey, 2007; pp. 259), in which both parties are comfortable dealing with. Following the review on intercultural communication of this section, the subsequent part will look at business games in terms of their capabilities and benefits, so that towards the end of this chapter an approach can be introduced as to how these two fields may be combined in order to achieve the research objectives of this paper. SECTION B: Benefits, Attributes and Utility of Business Games Historical Overview of Research in the Field of Business Games The history of business games started in 1956, when the first game was introduced by the American Management Association. Initially, the purpose of business games was largely educational, however the potential value of such tools was quickly realised and extensive research began on the subject in the 1970’s. Faria (2001) consolidated the major works on business games accomplished by the Association of Business Simulation and Experiential Learning (ABSEL), which have been very active in the field for over three decades. Historically speaking, the focus of business simulations in the 1970’s was on analysing and evaluating individual characteristics. Research was conducted on maximising performance. More specifically, findings suggested that group cohesion (Biggs, 1975; Wolfe and Box, 1988), a positive mind-set and dedication towards the simulation (Brenenstuhl & Catalanello, 1977) as well as group- instead of individual work amongst other factors all increase performance. Towards the 1980’s, the focus shifted from observing individual performance characteristics to trying to predict them, in addition to increasingly concentrating on group dynamics rather than individual participants. Following two decades of research, the ABSEL literature as reviewed by 18
  25. 25. LITERATURE REVIEW Gosen and Washbush (1998) indicates that consensus has been reached on certain characteristics directly influencing performance in business games; hence their active encouragement may provide a sound basis for prediction of success. These attributes have been stated as the following: “academic ability, participant motivation, team cohesion, degree of team organisation, team goal setting, degree of team competitiveness, perception toward the particular simulation, and perceptions about simulation/games as a learning tool” (Gosen and Washbush, 1998, cited in Faria, 2001). Purposes of business games The purposes of business games, whilst broadly being generalized as being educational, may be sub-divided into various categories. Within the scope of this study, the categories of interest included are strategic thinking and decision-making (Baldwin, 1974), developing leadership- (Hunsacker, 1977) and interpersonal skills (Certo & Newgren, 1977), as well as conflict resolution (King, 1977a, 1977b) in teams. Teach and Govani (1988) discovered that, on an executive level, the use of business simulations has greatly facilitated the development of communication skills within organisations, in addition to improving group behaviour skills and subsequently promoting group decision-making (cited in Faria, 2001). Overall, it can be said that the research of ABSEL on this subject has covered numerous angles of organizational learning; however investigation outcomes have had significant variance. Therefore, the usefulness of business games needs to be examined more specific objectives. Fripp (1993) advocates the notion that business games are mainly beneficial for middle and senior management within organisations. According to the author, managers learn more efficiently when the actively engage in the process through a problem solving simulation rather than by merely listening to briefings. Moreover, business games present the opportunity to see the benefits of risk-taking in a safe environment, where there are not any direct consequences 19
  26. 26. LITERATURE REVIEW from making a bad decision (except eventually losing the game), in addition to being a source of feedback for the organisation which encourages reflective thinking. In a simulation scenario, one further benefit is that “best practices” for a particular process or function can be demonstrated, thus making valuable lessons vividly memorable. Additionally, they present an excellent opportunity for group discussions on performance evaluation, communication and conflict management, including the benefit of being able to test and directly apply newly acquired knowledge. Nevertheless, it should be noted that business games also have certain flaws as educational tools. For one, the positive aspect they have for encouraging risk-taking behaviour has a negative side to it too; evidently, they are just games which cannot possibly encapsulate the entire complexity of reality in business, regardless of how compound they may be. Besides, business games are often too general and might not exactly correspond to a given organisation’s needs, thus not delivering the desired learning benefits (Fripp, 1993). Hence, this weakness of business games needs to be minimised by attempting to create them to be as realistic as possible, so that participants can relate the simulated scenario to their organisation and transfer the learning points onto their job. This also goes in line with the argument advocated by Falk and Carlson (1990), stating that the closer a business game is to reality, the more effective it is (cited in Morgan, 2000; pp. 495). Simulation designers increasingly attempt to incorporate a certain degree of flexibility into their games in order to facilitate customisation for tailored requirements. The game “Ecotonos” that has been chosen for the methodology of this paper provides this possibility and its effectiveness and elasticity will be tested in this research to validate the theory. Significant research has been conducted in various fields of management, yet the focus of this paper will be on finding means of facilitating communication across cultures in a business setting, which will be explored in more detail in the following sub-sections. 20
  27. 27. LITERATURE REVIEW Intercultural Communication in Business Games As analysed in section 1, the field of intercultural communications can be a highly complex milieu to explore. Waring and Glendon (2007), define culture as a “complex emergent phenomenon of social groupings consisting of sub-cultures”. Given this highly complex nature of cultures, business game designers are faced with the challenge of developing games that are multifaceted enough to capture a substantial part of the essence of culture, whilst simultaneously being rational enough in order to be analysable at the end for debriefing and evaluation purposes. Cox (1999) focused on a theoretical framework in the form of guidelines for designing business simulations enabling intercultural communications. Her work is centred on internet-based games in particular, tackling the cultural diversity of participants from various backgrounds worldwide. Her thesis suggests that the architecture of a game needs to provide equal opportunities for all members to partake in the simulation; hence, have equal opportunities in establishing power relations and influencing the creation of winning strategies. Evidently, this task, reasonable as it may seem, is increasingly difficult to tackle, given the inherent complexity of human behaviour that is embedded in various cultures. In the attempt to create a common ground where all participants are feeling comfortable, confident and motivated to engage in group activities, one needs to take into account the aspects of ethics in collaboration, as well as certain national characteristics manifested in social interactions that may impede the flow and outcomes of the game. Fowler (1994) devoted her work to cross-cultural training and identified business games as being a highly powerful tool in that subject area. Initially, commencing in the 1960’s, cross- cultural training was carried out through what the author calls “cognitive and information- intensive” learning approaches, e.g. through the use of seminars, lectures and articles. 21
  28. 28. LITERATURE REVIEW However, the trend was to shift from a cognitive method towards a more “affective” technique which encompasses the participant’s experiences and stimulates self-awareness. Hoopes and Ventura (1976) strongly criticised this rather radical shift, arguing that moving from factual knowledge to the other side of the spectrum focusing entirely on experiences is counterproductive, as it encourages subjectivism, strengthens preconceptions and creates unnecessary obstacles in intercultural understanding. Instead, a more effective approach is proposed to be an optimal combination of the information and conceptual knowledge available in the field, along with elements from behavioural science. Evidently, towards the 1990’s this method evolved to be the one that has been largely adopted by researchers and scholars in the field, as it both combines the objective with the subjective in order to create a well-founded learning scenario (Fowler, 1994). According to Fowler (1994), the purpose of cross-cultural business games is to teach participants how to learn in a different culture. In fact, reading between the lines, it does not suffice to merely understand the message a person from a different culture is conveying, but it is equally important to understand the thought process behind it and learn how it was formed. For this purpose, Fowler (1994) argues that the debriefing section of the business game is chief to evaluating the progress and outcomes of a simulation performed. In essence, it is the way to extract the lessons learned from the intercultural communication experience and turn it into practical advice. Moreover, she states that using such simulations can also help becoming more familiar with behavioural practices that differ from the ones a person is accustomed to from his own cultural background. Quite rightly, the author forwards the notion that having to deal with “foreign” behaviours can be a demanding and tense experience when one is not used to them; using cross-cultural communication simulations is therefore suggested to be a good way of practicing one’s openness towards new mentalities and thought processes. 22
  29. 29. LITERATURE REVIEW The following paragraph is examining the work of Hofstede and Pedersen (1999) who investigated the subject of using simulations for improving intercultural communications, as it is highly relevant to the aim of this paper and illustrates the principle architecture that is also to be found in the business game “Ecotonos”, which was used for data collection as will be outlined in the methodology section of the dissertation (Chapter 3). In their paper on intercultural learning through simulation games, Hofstede and Pedersen (1999) argue that, whilst the benefits of mutual understanding across cultures are evident in an increasingly globalised business world, the “mechanisms” that lie behind these behavioural attributes are far more difficult to identify and address. For this purpose, they have used the concept of “synthetic cultures” in simulation gaming, i.e. artificially constructed cultures which do not have the intention of assembling any particular national profile. In this fashion, it becomes easier for the game participants to recognise the attributes of the culture they are enacting, and subsequently acknowledge the roots of conflicts that arise in intercultural communication on a more conscious level than they would with national culture, which, according to the authors, are the “rules of the social game” people have been taught in the national environment they grew up in. Moreover, realising these artificial cultural traits may prepare the participants to better identify cultural characteristics in real life and thus more actively avoid conflict situations when dealing with people from a different background. The way in which such business games work is that, initially, participants are given certain characteristics that constitute their synthetic culture and encourage them to enact it. Through the strong sense of identity and enthusiasm that is being created, a “culture clash” is intentionally provoked. Using a metaphor from the field of medicine, occasionally the symptoms of an illness need to be fortified in order to be diagnosable. Similarly, in order to identify the sources of conflict in intercultural communications, disagreement first needs to be incited. 23
  30. 30. LITERATURE REVIEW The inherent difficulty lies in the steps subsequent to the culture clash, i.e. using the learning points of the game in order to gain or improve one’s intercultural communications skills Hofstede and Pedersen (1999). The Pedagogical Aspect of Business Games The educational validity of business games is a subject area that has been given particular focus over the years, as the various teaching techniques and learning mechanisms addressed are often approached from different perspectives and, quite frequently, cause a certain degree of doubt and controversy amongst researchers and academics. This sub-section will be looking at various theories proposed by researchers in the field, as well as identify certain gaps in the use of business games as a learning tool, paving the way for further research in particular segments. To commence, the range of pedagogical aspects in business simulations needs to be examined. Anderson and Lawton (2009) list three different categories of outcomes identified in the literature that are desired to be achieved through the use of business games largely based on Bloom’s taxonomy of learning (1959); namely factual learning, attitudinal and behavioural effects. Their intention of outlining these different aspects is to demonstrate the wide spectrum of uses that business games have as a mechanism and to support their notion that, when examining them as a tool, they cannot be generalised given their different approaches. Firstly, learning outcomes include the gain of factual knowledge on a business environment or a particular business function as well as the active acknowledgement of how different parts of a business correlate and cooperate. In essence, it encourages a more active way of learning rather than the passive traditional way of e.g. merely listening to lectures. Through playing business games, it is argued that the knowledge obtained is more easily retained and also 24
  31. 31. LITERATURE REVIEW provides an introduction to the difficulties that real businesses face. However, the authors argue that the use of business games for cognitive factual learning is ineffective, as it is highly time-consuming and can be better carried out by traditional teaching methods. Subsequently, the importance of having the right objectives when conducting a business game needs to be stressed. Conversely, attitudinal effects may be described as making the learning process more enjoyable, given the participation of the students in the learning process. Instructors are aiming at increasing enthusiasm for the particular business subject or function they are teaching, therefore making students more receptive. Lastly, behavioural outcomes of business games concern the practical effects the obtained knowledge has, i.e. teaching participants to be able to apply and implement the principles and concepts they have learned into forming real-life business decisions. Moreover, students may practise the decision-making process in a “safe” environment, in addition of being able to improve their communication skills by collaborating with their group mates (Anderson and Lawton, 2009). The area of affective learning has been largely developing over the years and presents a less conventional approach than traditional teaching techniques as it focuses on the participants’ feelings and engagement during the learning process. Anderson and Lawton (2009) advocate the concept of problem-based learning (PBL) as a highly effective method. Contrary to the concept of teaching students various frameworks and theoretical principles fist and then assigning them a case to solve, they are initially presented with a particular problem and are expected to find ways of approaching it by themselves. This more challenging approach has been found to be more enjoyable and mentally stimulating; hence, it represents an area of business game simulation that promises further development in the future. 25
  32. 32. LITERATURE REVIEW Nonetheless, attempting to measure the actual degree and extent of knowledge that has been obtained can be an increasingly difficult task, given the fact that affective learning shows what people perceive to have learned as opposed to what learning points they can actually transfer into real-life business decisions (Faria, 2001). In fact, whilst some evidence has been found that positively correlates student’s success in the decision making processes of their careers and their prior success in education with business simulations (Wolfe and Roberts, 1986; 1993), further research showed that only little support exists for the student’s ability to consistently transfer their knowledge from business games into their actual business decisions (Faria, Whiteley and Nulsen, 1995). This also goes in line with Fripp’s argument, stating that “Whatever the type of results, it is important that participants are able to translate the results they have achieved to their own actions” (pp. 21). Evidently, failure of being able to accomplish this goal practically renders the business game applied useless, as it would not have the constructive, long-term influence on decision-making that was desired. In the past decade, there has been significant research on how effective business games truly are in terms of the practical learning outcomes they offer to participants undertaking them and their ability to apply them into real life business decisions. Wideman et al (2007) disputed the thesis that actual learning can be achieved through such simulations, with the argument that, despite the fact that numerous researchers have found business games to be educational, their methodology is highly erroneous. This is due to the fact that most studies carried out in the field are evaluated based on participants’ and instructor’s feedback on the games; the critique therefore is that the measures used are highly subjective and lack academic credibility. They emphasise the need for objective mechanisms to be put into place for the appraisal of learning outcomes, which is an area that has yet not been sufficiently developed. Nevertheless, whilst acknowledging this argument, this study challenges this critique by aiming at producing significant findings through the method of structured debriefing, as per the nature of the business game “Ecotonos”. 26
  33. 33. LITERATURE REVIEW Along the same line, Wolfe and Crookall (1998) stressed their thesis that in order to be able to correctly assess the learning capabilities of a particular business game, initially clarification is required in terms of what type of learning is pursued. Using Bloom’s learning taxonomy (1959), the exact desired outcome needs to be defined. Following this stage, appropriate objective assessment tools ought to be implemented and then the simulation should be designed in order to best capture the “learning value” of the game. Nevertheless, the need to quantify and rationalise learning experiences deserves to be disputed as an argument itself. In the words of Gosen & Washburn (2004): “learning is an internal mental process, and what is learned and how it is learned is unique to each individual” (p. 284). This statement indicates that learning is an aspect of human behaviour, which, to a certain extent, is linked to a participants’ personality. The notions advocated in the previous paragraphs clearly indicate that there are a plethora of views on business games as pedagogical tools, as well as how they can be evaluated. The controversy around the subject is stimulating research into exploring cognitive learning from various directions, however, as Anderson and Lawton (2009) point out, a significant amount of research in that field is still required. Computerised Business Games This section will demonstrate the major characteristics of computerised business games, discussing their major capabilities and limitations. This examination is being carried out with the intention of acknowledging the specific practical benefits of these tools in order to be able to compare them to board games in the subsequent section and thus best identify which one is preferable for the research objectives in this paper. 27
  34. 34. LITERATURE REVIEW In his guide on business game design, Fripp (1993) presents numerous variables that are to be taken into consideration when creating a simulation. He argues that computerised simulations have the benefit of the potential to provide useful decision aids that facilitate the simulation process by means of automatic calculations, e.g. for market demand or return on investment percentages (Fripp, 1993, pp.31). Evidently, such software-enabled tools can vary in complexity and have different capabilities, encompassing applications from spreadsheets to computer aided design (CAD) platforms. Therefore, their usefulness encompasses a wide spectrum; a fact that validates the author’s point. Atsumi et al (1989) conducted research in the field of collaborative learning and the effects computer-based communication has on participant’s behaviour. Their findings suggest that when co-operating virtually, the power relations and cultural bias that would usually be prevalent in face to face meetings are significantly reduced. As a consequence, participants who would have been increasingly dominant in a co-located environment behave less individualistic in a virtual setting, thus enabling a more balanced participation across the team. These findings may also be transferred to the use of business games, despite the fact that they were not specifically based on this particular computer-application. At this point, it is reasonable to assume that to a certain extent similar changes in group dynamics and individual behaviour may be expected in the use of computerised business games, as in essence they are virtual collaborative tools themselves. Equally, computerised business games have certain disadvantages that may present an obstacle to the learning process and thus the achievement of the desired outcomes. In his analysis of cross cultural considerations for simulation-based learning environments, Morgan (2000) identified certain preconditions for the efficiency and success of business games which are culturally mediated. He consolidated research that showing that the degree of a person’s technological exposure is linked his/her cultural background, e.g. the United States are referred to as being “technologically advanced” and have an inherent degree of acquaintance with the 28
  35. 35. LITERATURE REVIEW use of computers (Morgan, 2000; pp. 494). To an extent, this degree of knowledge and expertise is not constant and people around the world have numerous different skills and experience with a plethora of systems and applications, thus the author stresses the need for the creation of a common language in business games, manifested in the use of internationally recognised symbols to facilitate the process in addition to ensuring that the message conveyed on how to play the game is understood correctly by all players. Moreover, he underlined the importance of the effects “computer anxiety” has on participants’ behaviour during a simulation. This stress roots from the fear of technical problems that may arise in the duration of the game, as cultures that use technology to a great extent in their lives have also faced numerous problems with computers and are aware that such problems may inhibit the flow of the game and potentially be the source of a missed opportunity or loss. Equally, cultures that are not technologically advanced face the anxiety of being able to correctly use computers in the simulation, which also directly influences performance. The author makes interesting and relevant points that should be taken into consideration when selecting or designing a business game for a particular audience. However, the assumption that national culture is directly associated with a person’s technological ability may be criticised as being too vague and in many cases incorrect. As pointed out by Hofstede (1991), national culture does not necessarily determine an individual’s mentality; to illustrate this with an example, a Chinese person, whilst belonging to what is generally perceived to be a collectivist culture, may have a strong individualist character. Equally, the level of computer-literacy of participants in a computerised simulation cannot be assumed to be the same as the commonly alleged level of their nationality. Especially when dealing with small groups of ten to fifteen people, generalisations of this sort are not appropriate. It is however possible to take individual rather than national anxiety levels into account, given the fact the sample size is manageable and the facilitator personally interacts with all participants. 29
  36. 36. LITERATURE REVIEW Donath (1998) also identified pitfalls in computerised games when attempting to evaluate behaviour, given the fact that attributes such as character, identity and various other societal roles are practically non-existent; this is particularly the case in the majority of online games, where, as a result, an increased difficulty of communicating common tactics across the team is caused by players not being physically co-located. However, the fact that the author’s work is published over a decade ago may soften the current validity of this particular critique on computerised games ever-so-slightly, as technological advancements in simulation and gaming have changed the landscape of that time significantly, as will be explored in the following paragraph. As a matter of fact, the field of computerised simulations has been present for decades, yet in recent years it has gained increasing popularity in the field of social sciences, particularly in the analysis of social interactions. Garson (2009) discussed various technologically advanced techniques that are used to simulate such scenarios, and the one of particular interest to this paper is agent-based modelling. To briefly describe this tool, it is a programme where software objects are assigned specific characteristics and are then programmed to automatically and autonomously interact as agents, “enacting” their attributes in response to certain stimuli they are confronted with. According to the author, the latest trend in agent-based modelling is to forge characters by adding features such as “imagination and openness” (pp. 271) whilst Ghasem-Aghaee and Ören (2007) created a software programme that assigns attributes such as “values, emotions, ideas, and aesthetics” to agents in order to ascertain personality rules. 30
  37. 37. LITERATURE REVIEW “The agent’s ability to solve problems becomes a function of the agent’s openness, which in turn is affected by the cognitive complexity of the individual in relation to situational (problem) complexity... Endowing agents with “personality” through fuzzy logic rules opens the possibility of greater simulation realism (different agents act differently in the same situation, depending on personality) and more complex interaction” (cited in Garson, 2009; pp. 271, based on Ghasem-Aghaee and Ören, 2007) Nonetheless, as promising as these tools may appear, they have severe limitations that need to be taken into consideration. Firstly, as Abbott (2001) points out, the assumption is made in simulations like these, that attributes constituting this synthetic personality are clear, abstract and constant. However, human behaviour may be subject to change, often attributable to unidentifiable or unclear reasons. At the very least, it is highly complex and its elements cannot remotely be accurately measured on a scale of one to five. Lane and Nadel (2000) also stressed the influential impact emotions have on groups and individuals when they are making decisions. That being said, as Sallach (2003) critised, the ontology of simulations is not the detailed portrayal of the complexity of human behaviour, but a simplified framework that can help analysts identify and understand key influential functions. Along the same line, in this paper the same principle is being followed for the data collection using Ecotonos, as will be analysed in more detailed in the methodology section of the dissertation. The following sub- section will be looking at traditional, non-computerised (or board-) games, and how they may be valuable towards creating a learning process for cross cultural communication as well as conflict management. Board Games Zagal et al (2006) have reviewed a number of both computerised and board games in their effort to extract valuable lessons and guidelines in the design of games. They have particularly 31
  38. 38. LITERATURE REVIEW focused on collaborative games, a relatively new category which, according to the authors, in both highly promising in effectively teaching collaborative behaviour and exceedingly difficult to design. In their analysis, they actively investigated lessons learned and pitfalls to be aware of in board games, given their inherent simplicity and better ease of scrutiny. Their findings are particularly helpful for this paper, as they provide a step towards improving communication in teams and reinforce the value of collaboration; a benefit that can be extrapolated into a multicultural scenario and contribute to the discussion of usefulness and educational validity in the field of business games. In their study, Zagal et al (2006) clearly differentiate between cooperative and collaborative games, as they might appear similar at first glance but, in fact, are very different. Cooperative games involve a certain degree of interaction and exchange between players or teams, however the aim is to for one party to win, hence cooperation is not always mutually beneficial for all. In contrast, in collaborative games the aim is to create a win-win situation for all by means of pursuing what is best for all. In many cases, players are part of one team where their individual characters need to make sacrifices for the greater good of the mission or goal they are to achieve. The authors have used the board game The Lord of the Rings as a case study, as, allegedly, it is the best example of a collaborative board game. More specifically, it is uniquely designed in a way that players learn to make their individual decisions to benefit their team overall; selfish actions lead to a decrease in team performance, therefore individualistic and opportunistic behaviour is not possibly rewarded. This learning process is a challenging yet highly valuable mechanism of “maximising the team’s utility” (Zagal et al, 2006; pp. 26). This way, the negative effect on collaboration of the often occurring phenomenon of ambitious and selfish individual players within a team is minimised, as everyone is effectively penalised when one person makes decisions that might be best for their character at the time but do not contribute to the team. Moreover, in collaborative games, all participants within a team obtain the same score; hence, motivation for team work is increased, thus also increasing performance. Creating this apprehension of individual vs. collective motivation is one of the 32
  39. 39. LITERATURE REVIEW major learning points that Zagal et al (2006) have concluded on (Zagal et al, 2006; pp. 30). Moreover, they have found that in a collaborative setting, each player should be empowered to make individual decisions responsibly, without the need to consult with the rest of the team first; everyone assumes a clear role for which he/she ought to take full responsibility as altruistically evaluate the risks and benefits (Zagal et al, 2006; pp. 31). As a consequence, players learn to act in the best interest of the team through their own initiative and without the pressure of their peers to do so. Evidently, when the aim is achieved at the end of the game, players are more satisfied with the outcomes and may also have a sense of pride in mastering a collaborative venture. Along the same line, an important aspect that needs to be stressed is the need to correctly encourage all members to equally engage within the team, avoiding the pitfall of one player having to perform all the tasks. This behaviour also known as “free-riding” should be circumvented by creating a strong sense of common purpose to ensure buy-in, in addition to embodying a significant degree of variation within the game to evade potential boredom (Zagal et al, 2006). After all, a multifaceted game is one that has a higher possibility of being player more often, thus increasing the learning opportunities. The following subsection acts as a synthesis of the two main sections of this literature review, in order to better clarify the connection between business games and the field of conflicts in intercultural communication. Final Remarks Following the analysis of this chapter, the intertwining of certain elements of both fields reviewed becomes visible. This final remarks paragraph will briefly bring the main learning 33
  40. 40. LITERATURE REVIEW points of the analysis together, in order to better illustrate how business games can best be used to meet the aim and research objectives of this paper. Initially, it should be stated that the literature indicates a strong need for open-mindedness when attempting to effectively communicate across cultures. As Marcel, Randall and Saphiere (2008) and Barna (1994) point out, the fact that people are diverse, needs to be actively embraced. Moreover, a perspective that shifts away from long-established ethnocentric positions needs to be adopted. Business games can not only help improve strategic decisions in team work, but also actively induce a learning process for learning to better understand other cultures (Fowler 1994). As Hofstede and Pedersen (1999) point out, business games can be a highly valuable tool for understanding the thought process that lies behind various behavioural attributes of other cultures. Moreover, given the fact that simulations promote collaborative, non-opportunistic teamwork, they are an excellent medium for practicing and subsequently improving one’s communication skills (Teach & Govani, 1988). The increasing trend towards affective learning (Anderson & Lawton, 2009) represents an intriguing area, as it investigates the influence of emotions during the learning process, which can be a valuable contribution to behavioural observations and learning points during business games. Notably, certain aspects need to be taken into careful consideration when running such simulations. The best way to create valuable learning points is to create an environment where each participant can equally contribute (Cox, 1999) and where a non-judgemental attitude is being adopted throughout the process (Barna, 1994; Ting-Toomey, 2007). The vast complexity of human behaviour and the numerous factors influencing it has been analysed in detail in the form of dialectics (Martin & Nakayama, 2009) as well as the various drivers that determine our social conduct, as has been demonstrated by the face negotiation theory (Ting-Toomey, 2007). When conducting a business simulation inducing a culture clash as it will be the case with the business game carried out in the following chapter, it is of chief importance to bear in mind that various cultures inevitably demonstrate different ways of dealing with conflict (Ting-Toomey, 34
  41. 41. LITERATURE REVIEW 2007). Further crucial aspects include the need for maximum realism in the game in order to achieve the best possible learning outcome that can be later transferred into real-life scenarios and business decisions (Fripp, 1993). Overall, it can be said that when taking into these points into account, the potential of business games as facilitators of intercultural communication are promising. Besides, the use of such simulations can also be a source of constructive feedback on teamwork, as well as a medium for neutral and mutually understanding conflict management (Fripp, 1993). Similarly, business games can provide an ideal opportunity for exploring the recent trend towards attitudinal and affective learning focusing on feelings, emotions and other subjective yet influential behavioural factors, which appears to be in need of further research in the field (Hofstede & Pedersen, 1999; Anderson & Lawton, 2009). The following chapter will outline the research methods used for this paper, incorporating the aforementioned points into the framework of the analysis. Despite the fact that the general subject of simulations facilitating intercultural communications has been previously studied (Hostede & Pedersen, 1999), this paper will combine further elements of various studies as mentioned throughout the literature review, in order to test the main hypotheses across the two fields, intending to gain further valuable perspectives and learning points through the use of “Ecotonos”. Markedly, this paper will attempt an amalgamation of findings of the fields of business games and conflicts in intercultural communication that has not been previously carried out in this manner, aiming to make a humble step towards contributing to this emerging and increasingly important subject area. 35
  42. 42. METHODOLOGY CHAPTER 3 - METHODOLOGY In this section of the paper, the research methodology of this paper will be presented. The chosen method is combination of literature based research and a case study, based on the business game “Ecotonos”, designed by Dianne Hoffner Saphiere which will be used to identify and evaluate conflicts that emerge in intercultural communication. Similarly to Zagal et al (2006), a type of “board” game was chosen for the data collection due to the fact that it is less complex than computerised games and, most importantly, the extraction of learning points can be better achieved for the intents and purposes of this paper. Whilst the benefits of computerised business games are being acknowledged as analysed in the literature review (Chapter 2), this non-computerised game has been chosen as it represents an ideal means of examining behavioural factors, due to the fact that it enables the researcher to witness conflicts emerging in intercultural communication “live”, in addition to being able to observe and evaluate emotions, thus investigating the aspects of affective learning. From an academic point of view, Lewins (1994) described the nature of social science research and underlined certain important aspects that ought to be taken into account when following a scientific approach, i.e. using empirical evidence to test theory. Initially, he argues that it is essential to formulate the research objectives to the field(s) they are directly applicable to. Fundamentally, this is stating the obvious that information needs to be sought at the right place. Likewise, the social sciences researcher needs to keep in mind that every finding as well as every theory is not to be viewed as a fact such as the laws of physics, and are therefore subject to critique. This approach was adopted throughout this paper and the case study analysis aims at verifying certain hypotheses that have been previously tested as well as potentially discovering new variables that have not yet been paid significant attention to by others. In agreement with Lewins (1994), evidently, this research is not novel per se but based on outcomes of previous academics in the field, thus aspiring to contribute to the scientific 36
  43. 43. METHODOLOGY knowledge by presenting new outcomes and synthesising previous views in order to address the questions at hand. The following paragraph will explain the case study approach from a theoretical perspective more clearly, in order to create a frame of reference for the game specific parameters. Case Study Method The case study method is a research technique that is particularly suited to social sciences. As Zonabend (1992) describes it, the “case study is being done by giving special attention to completeness in observation, reconstruction and analysis of the cases under study” (cited in Tellis, 1997; pp.3). It has been used extensively in the fields of law, medicine and sociology, as it enables the examination of various issues from a more qualitative standpoint, rather than being merely quantitative as it is the case with scientific statistical methods (Tellis, 1997). In the field, three types of case study methods have been identified that are generally used: exploratory, explanatory and descriptive (Yin, 1993). Exploratory case studies aim at exploring learning points within a field without trying to prove a particular point as such, but through investigating various possible settings. Whilst this is a relatively open approach and may be best used for new and undiscovered subject areas, a certain framework outlining overall requirements and time restrictions (Stake, 1995) is required in order to keep it structured and as focused as possible. On the other hand, explanatory case studies serve the role of testing the validity of previous research findings, evaluating which of them have practical utility. Finally, descriptive case studies are thorough analytical techniques that have the purpose of reviewing the knowledge available in a field, identifying cause-and- effect patterns and producing results based on the observations that are being made (Yin, 1993; in Tellis, 1997). The methodology of this paper, whilst being predominately explanatory, 37
  44. 44. METHODOLOGY also contains certain elements of exploratory research. The reasoning behind this approach is to be sensitive to new insights that may be discovered during the data collection which can contribute to a richer understanding of the subject, as well as suggest possibilities for further investigation. A significant focus on structure and timing has been followed, in order to facilitate the logical gathering of information according to the research objectives which can subsequently be integrated into a conceptual framework presenting the outcomes of the study. In essence, this research is using primary data collection through the game “Ecotonos”, which will later be compared with secondary data in the analysis and discussion chapter (Chapter 5) from findings of academics in the field as addressed in the literature review. Concerning more specific aspects of the methodology, Yin (1994) analysed the best uses of case studies as research tools and underlined the importance replication when they are being conducted, rather than using various different samples. By doing so, the robustness of the theory that is being tested becomes validated more strongly and with higher credibility. Along the same line with this argument and for the purpose of obtaining reliable and robust learning points, for the data collection of this paper the same approach was followed. In more detail, the business game ”Ecotonos” was repeatedly conducted with the same sample of 12 students, but using various simulations with the same intentions. In addition to the aforementioned arguments, one of the major strengths that case studies offer lies in their ability of being evaluative rather than merely descriptive, as the problem situation is viewed through the eyes of the participants. This point may be criticised as being subjective and hence scientifically speaking inconsistent, however particularly in the field of social sciences and more specifically when examining behaviour, such personal elements may significantly help the identification of certain issues that, along with the academic literature in the milieu, can form the basis for addressing the research objectives of this paper. 38
  45. 45. METHODOLOGY Moreover, Yin (1994) added that both single or multiple-case designs can be effective, however in order to avoid participant’s actions to be influenced by familiarity of a given simulation scenario, flexibility was incorporated into this study to view results caused by different stimuli, as well as how responses may vary according to the nature of the task. As an observation, it is deemed to be interesting to test whether situational behaviour factors have an impact on the validity of the theory on business games and conflicts in intercultural communication, as synthesised in the final remarks section of Chapter 2. For this purpose, the simulation was conducted by using different tasks and cultural background information each time, as will be explained in more detail the following section about the game-specific parameters. Case Study: Ecotonos This section will be outlining the nature and features of the business game “Ecotonos” in more detail, illustrating how it was used for the data collection during its espousal. Game Attributes As previously touched upon, the business simulation “Ecotonos” is a game that aims at exploring intercultural communications and may be compared to the work of Hofstede and Pedersen (1999) on synthetic cultures. It has been selected as a case study given the fact that it may be used to investigate the concepts and outcomes of the abovementioned authors who have carried out highly interesting work in this domain. The following extract from the product description will provide a good overview of the game’s capabilities and strengths, justifying why it was selected for this particular study: “Ecotonos helps participants develop skills and strategies for participating effectively in multicultural environments – for sharing information, making decisions, managing 39
  46. 46. METHODOLOGY projects, building community, working in and leading teams, resolving conflict and creating solutions” Source: Dianne Hoffner Saphiere, Ecotonos manual (2008), pp.4 As this citation infers, this particular simulation presents an ideal medium for examining the research objectives of this paper. According to the creator, participants are given the opportunity to develop an understanding of the up- and downsides of intercultural communication, as well as directly experience the dynamics and processes of cross-cultural collaboration. The more valuable learning points that are desired to be achieved by this study lie in the potential for extracting guidelines on how to identify sources of conflict when working together with individuals from various cultural backgrounds, in addition to improving one’s ability to effectively act on a strategic level in a cross-cultural setting and thus addressing such issues. Ecotonos has the further benefit of being both realistic and flexible with its simulations, enabling participants to relate to the scenarios exercised, whilst simultaneously providing a continuous learning opportunity due to the incorporated variety it offers. Simulation guidelines of Ecotonos The way the business game was conducted is in two groups of six people. The outline of the game is illustrated in the figure below: 40

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