— by , Warwick University


In an increasingly internationalised business world, conflicts in intercultural communication still represent one of the major obstacles to effective global collaboration. Therefore, a study was carried out which corroborated the notions underlining the importance of bridging cultures through a mutual process of respectful, well-intended, collaborative communication. Following extensive research on both the fields of intercultural communication as well as business gaming, the validity of business games as educational tools - and Ecotonos in particular - has been examined and largely confirmed, as a clear learning process could be proven throughout the data analysis of the paper “The Use of Business Games as a Way of Identifying and Addressing Conflicts in Intercultural Communication” (Katsoula, E., 2009; University of Warwick).

In this study, Ecotonos was carried out twice with two groups of 12 participants from various different national backgrounds to add diversity, such as Greece, Malaysia, India, Germany, Taiwan, Jordan and Kazakhstan, all at a Master’s level with at least one year of work experience for industrial relevance to the study. The process was intense, yet in line with theory on affective learning, the game created a highly enjoyable environment which in turn increased motivation, teamwork, buy-in and a zealous attitude for both the tasks and the process of achieving them. In the two runs that the game was being conducted, a significant learning process became apparent, illustrating pitfalls as well as opportunities for improving intercultural communication in a collaborative setting. The need for structure and leadership is a feature that resulted in the analysis of results, as it greatly helps towards achieving given goals harmoniously.

Notably, the results demonstrate that through the use of the multicultural business simulation Ecotonos, a culture clash can be well induced, providing excellent learning opportunities. More specifically, the game helped participants realise the sheer complexity that lies within communicating across cultures, as it reaches to behavioural, social, strategic as well as ethical aspects that all need to be carefully taken into consideration. It has been recognised that diversity is an aspect that ought to be managed well, so as to extract the maximum benefits that emerge from culturally unlike individuals. Evidently, having a broader pool of knowledge, skills, expertise and viewpoints can greatly improve the quality of any collaborative venture, consequently increasing a company’s competitive advantage and spectrum of innovation.

When attempting to communicate across cultures, it has been recognised that the utmost important factor to be considered is the perspective from which communication is adopted. It has been stressed throughout this study that it is a matter of using the correct “lens” through which a culture is viewed, stepping away from one’s own preconceptions and being open to new ways of viewing situations. This way, the thought processes of people from other cultures to one’s own may be better understood. From an ethical perspective, the importance of both maintaining and saving face is vital, as it is a prerequisite for reaching mutually benefits and harbouring mutual respect.