The influence of intercultural factors in corporate education : a case study from the transport and logistics industry

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As an adult education practitioner over the last twenty years the researcher has worked in different corporate sectors such as Energy, Finance and more recently Transport and Logistics, from which this study is taken. The context he has worked in has always been the training departments of these corporations at a National, Regional (Asia and Europe) and Global level. The constant theme prevailing throughout these corporations is their approach to training, which is a One Size Fits All that is, the corporate message needs to remain the same across the globe. However, how the corporate message is transmitted can be approached differently to expedite meaning, improve comprehensive cognition and rapidly impact the bottom line through quicker skill and competency uptake. Another theme is the researcher’s hunch that corporations can develop better practices by working with the cultural wisdom that exists with their multicultural workforce. This research is a comparative study of corporate education across two cultures to identify intercultural factors that may enhance or hinder learning. It is hoped this study clarifies those concepts, assisting practitioners to develop more effective organisational development programmes for cross cultural learning situations whilst offering a template guide for practitioners to research and study their practice. Drawing on Myles Horton (1991) ideas, a study was designed on a corporate global curriculum and how it was developed and used in a range of settings across Europe. Through Content Analysis of course materials, the study used data from a course module to perform a number of comprehensive reviews. Observations and interviews were performed using an Insider/Outsider approach with the facilitators. Mapping these responses provided data to revisit the Content Analysis stage to identify new codes, categories, relationships, networks and maps. These were checked with the same stakeholders to confirm accuracy of the findings which would be used to review the existing One Size Fits All approach and justify a move from dichotomous to dialectical practices in corporate education. Overall this study suggests training can be enhanced by using learner identity, by blending cultures of the learner and the corporate and by creating an authentic Third Space, between the individual and corporation, where learning for all can be situated. This study also suggests detractors exist (such as unilateral approaches) which limit employee learning and corporate effectiveness. Finally, this study provides a first step on the path for practitioners to attempt (what has historically been the scholarly task of researching practice) praxis, as Freire (1968) sees it, to improve their practice and transform the wider field of practice.
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