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Editorial: towards a collaborative understanding of intercultural engineering

Forderung nach einem kollaborativen Verständnis von interkultureller Ingenieursarbeit
[journal article]

Mahadevan, Jasmin; Mayer, Claude-Hélène

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Abstract The articles in this special issue deal with the topic of cultural engineering in various contexts and from different perspectives, bringing together interculturalists, management scholars and engineering academics and professionals. Claude-Hélène Mayer emphasizes that intercultural competences are key competences in international engineering organisations. Her article is based on selected empirical findings from a multi-method research study. It focuses on cultural engineering in a specific Engineering organisation in South Africa and investigates how managers in an international and culturally diverse engineering environment define intercultural competence, how they cope with intercultural challenges in their daily work routine and how intercultural competence could be promoted within cultural engineering contexts. The contribution by Kirsten Nazarkiewicz focuses on the relevance of conversation as a learning tool to gain intercultural competence. Her paper reflects on communication as a crucial dimension of intercultural learning processes while focusing in particular on the target group of engineers. She presents three significant findings on the characteristics of communication in educational settings. The author argues that the unconscious reproduction of this pedagogical structure is not helpful for intercultural learning and shows how to use these orientations for a collective intercultural learning process that involves experts of different subcultures (technical and intercultural expert) interacting on equal terms. Finally, four approaches for trainers' conduct of talk are introduced to foster intercultural competences. Henning Hinderer highlights the cultural complexities of intercultural technical projects across organizations. He shows how the incorporation of external consultants into a technical project multiplies cultural complexity and suggests a model of how to conceptualize this condition. The author identifies processes of identity-making and othering as crucial constituting factors of intercultural engineering across organizations. He suggests strengthening the position of hybrid individuals who are between professional or organizational cultures to utilize their integrative potential as intercultural boundary-spanners. Project managers are encouraged to incorporate cultural complexity into their activities.Adding to the interpretative understanding of intercultural engineering, Jasmin Mahadevan and Christian Klinke propose analyzing failure and success stories in technical project management. Based on a long-term interpretative study, they show that project reality does not exist as such but is constantly created through stories of project success and failure. They identify three, interrelated types of stories and show when and how intercultural conflict and culturalized interpretations impact the development of intercultural competencies and neglect the complexities of project reality. To overcome these obstacles, they give recommendations to academics and practitioners from various fields.What these articles have in common, is an interpretative approach to specific intercultural settings between social reality and technology. One of their aims is to deconstruct reified national cultural containers and to facilitate a dialogue between such diverse fields as engineering, management and intercultural communication. For doing so, one article concerns the education of future intercultural engineers, another focuses upon intercultural training practice. One article highlights the construction of culture amongst technical management while two other articles conceptualize the complexities of intercultural engineering in technical projects across societal cultures and organizations.The articles presented in this Special Issue outline the field of Intercultural Engineering, this being an academic first. They bring about new thoughts and ideas to empirical research and theoretical approaches in this field and intend to stimulate further debates, research and discussion. You are now welcomed to read on and be stimulated to move the discussion forward, in a constructive, intercultural and controversial way.

Die Artikel in dieser Sonderausgabe beschäftigen sich mit dem Thema Intercultural Engineering in verschiedenen Kontexten und aus verschiedenen Perspektiven und bringen so Interkulturalisten, Manager und IngenieurInnen auf praktischer und theoretischer Ebene zusammen. Claude-Hélène Mayer betont in ihrem Artikel, dass interkulturelle Kompetenzen Schlüsselkompetenzen für international technische Organisationen sind. Der Beitrag von Kirsten Nazarkiewicz konzentriert sich auf die Wichtigkeit von Gesprächen als ein Lerninstrument zum Erwerb von interkulturellen Kompetenzen.Henning Hinderer beleuchtet die kulturelle Komplexität von interkulturellen technischen Projekten jenseits organisationaler Grenzen. Jasmin Mahadevan und Christian Klinke analysieren Erfolgs- und Misserfolgsgeschichten in technischem Projektmanagement. Was diese Artikel eint, ist der interpretative Blick auf spezifische kulturelle Felder zwischen sozialer Wirklichkeit und Technologie. Ein Ziel dieser Artikel ist es, essentialisierte Vorstellungen von Nationalkultur als Container zu dekonstruieren und den Dialog zwischen so unterschiedlichen Feldern wie Ingenieurwesen, Management und Interkultureller Kommunikation zu ermöglichen. Zur Erreichung dieses Ziels beschäftigt sich ein Artikel mit der Ausbildung interkultureller IngenieurInnen, ein anderer fokussiert sich auf die interkulturelle Trainingspraxis. Ein Artikel beleuchtet die Konstruktion von Kultur im technischen Management, zwei weitere konzeptionieren die Komplexitäten von Intercultural Engineering in organisations- und gesellschaftskultur-übergreifenden Projekten. Zusammenfassend stecken die Artikel dieser Sonderausgabe das Feld Intercultural Engineering ab. Sie vermitteln neuartige Gedanken und Ideen für empirische Forschung und theoretische Herangehensweisen an dieses Feld und möchten zukünftige Debatten, Forschung und Diskussionen anregen. Daher möchten wir zum Lesen dieser Beiträge anregen, so dass die diese Diskussion auf konstruktive, interkulturelle und kontroverse Art und Weise weiterfortgeführt werden kann.
Keywords project management; intercultural factors; intercultural communication; technology; social reality; engineer; training; intercultural skills
Classification Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature; Economic Sectors; Counseling System
Document language English
Publication Year 2012
Page/Pages p. 5-16
Journal interculture journal: Online-Zeitschrift für interkulturelle Studien, 11 (2012) 18
Issue topic Intercultural engineering
ISSN 2196-9485
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution