Att bygga broar över kulturgränser. Om svenskars kommunikation med icke-svenskar vid arbete utanför Sverige
Sammanfattning: Globalization creates a need for increased communication competence among Swedes working on the global arena. This study is based on reports of communication processes used by Swedes when interacting professionally with non-Swedes. The reports are derived from interviews.
The study focuses on three areas.
The communication strategies developed by the respondents for intercultural communication.
The relationship beween the choice of communication strategies and the cultural backgrounds of the respondents - understood in terms of their personal and professional experiences.
The basic theoretical frameworks suitable for the analysis and interpretation of the intercultural communication processes in the described context and for the field more generally.
The study also addresses questions concerning language use, cultural training, and gender aspects.Further, wih a point of departure in a review of relevant communication theories, ealier research within intercultural communication both in Sweden and abroad, two principal theoretical approaches are discussed. Social constructionism is used to critically analyse the traditional concepts of "national culture", "culture", and "Swedishness". The other approach is a return to mainstream communication theory as a conceptual cornerstone in studying intercultural communication.
The empirical data consist of 30 qualitative interviews, including 10 international businessmen, 10 Swedish Red Cross delegates, and 10 researchers connected with universities in Sweden, all with wide international experience. Those respondents are all Swedish-born and Sweden-educated.
The interviews reveal five basic communication strategies, a wide selection of tactics, and many insightful observations. All the strategies and tactics can be used in professional communication/negotiations with non-Swedes. The choice of strategies differs greatly according to the professional cultures of those interviewed, while Swedish identity only rarely plays a part in the choice of strategies and the attitudes expressed in regard to working with non-Swedes. While many of the respondents admitted they lack both a deeper knowledge and understanding of the English language as well as a background in intercultural communication, they deny the need for more support and traning in these areas. The women respondents discussed gender difficulties, and they gave a number of examples of prejudicial behaviour they had experienced or heard about when working abroad.
It is clear that a mobilisation of selected traditions within mainstream communication theory would be fruitful for the analysis and theory-building of intercultural communication. In particular, the theoretical horizons of Erving Goffman and Jürgen Habemas serve as useful analytic tools in interpreting the experiences told by members of the different professional cultures. In this context, the conceptual foundation of "national cultures" associated with Geert Hofstede and other researchers are found inadequate. The thesis concludes with the proposal to replace this notion with a renewed approach to intercultural communication that builds upon a combination of social constructionism and mainstream communication theory.
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