Cultural Implications for Turkish and Dutch Telecollaboration projects
“Culture is the collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one
group or category of people from others” – Geert Hofstede
21st century skills are implemented in educational curricula throughout the world. Telecollaboration programmes are often a means through which these skills are taught. However cross-cultural telecollaboration programmes do not always work out as planned. Lamy and Goodfellow (2010) sum up a number of possible causes found in different studies. They report on practical and cultural differences in Educational structures and values and on differences in socio-cultural ...view middle of the document...
Pinto and Hofstede
For a comparison of the Turkish and Dutch cultures I used both Hofstede and Pinto’s models. Geert Hofstede developed a cultural dimensions theory which can be used as a framework for intercultural communication. IBM conducted a survey in the 1960s 1970s in which IBM employees worldwide were asked about employee values. The data from this extensive survey (which could be quantified) led to Hofstede’s theory. This original theory consisted of four dimensions: individualism-collectivism; uncertainty avoidance; power distance (strength of social hierarchy) and masculinity-femininity (task orientation versus person-orientation). Later research led to a fifth dimension (long-term orientation) and even a sixth (indulgence versus self-restraint).
Another way of classification is Pinto’s Fine-meshed (F) and Coarse-meshed (C) cultures. Pinto’s theory characterises structures concerning rules and codes in terms of concepts such as many/few, strict/loose and detailed/general. When a structure is very detailed, with many rules, Pinto uses the term Fine-meshed (F) and when structures are loose Pinto uses the word Coarse-meshed (C). There is a continuum of structures, with extremes at both ends. At the F end, the structures are characterised by many, detailed and strict rules for behaviour and communication (e.g. Somalia, Morocco), while the structures at the C end have the opposite quality, as the rules are more broadly defined, looser and more generally applicable (e.g. Canada, United States, the Netherlands). According to Pinto’s model Turkey has an F-culture.
Cultural comparison of The Netherlands and Turkey
By exploring the Dutch and the Turkish culture through the two classification models discussed, an overview of what cultural aspects might play a role in intercultural telecollaboration can be made. According to Pinto’s classification the Netherlands has a C-culture and Turkey an F-culture which indicates immediately that there are significant differences. The chart (figure 1)comparing the Netherlands and Turkey on Hofstede’s dimensions also indicates that differences are substantial in some areas. The biggest differences shown in the graph lie in the first four dimensions. In the following paragraphs the differences between the two countries on cultural dimensions and their possible implications for collaboration will be discussed.
Power Distance and Uncertainty Avoidance
Hofstede’s first dimension (power distance) deals with how power is divided in society and how individuals deal with inequalities in society. On his website Hofstede defines this as “the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.”. The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance is “The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these”. (Hofstede,...