I was reminded of the Human Genone Project during a conference session today looking at “intra-disciplinary” and “inter-disciplinary” approaches to “advancing service science with cultural considerations.” The conference, funded by the National Science Foundation and presented by the International Services System Engineering Research Lab (ISSER) at the University of Puerto Rico, looks at how “the outcome of interaction between the service provider and service recipient is very much influenced by the cultural and social background of these two or more players” at the point of a service transaction (e.g. customer service phone center, sales, healthcare, etc.)
The Genome Project confirmed the constructed nature of race: there are more differences genetically between members of a single ‘race’ than between ‘races.’ I was surprised to find the same experience today between Engineers and Marketers. I accidentally sat at the wrong table this morning (we were assigned by discipline) and sat with the Engineers. It was fantastic–they were able to talk about their work in Human/Machine interaction and how that might vary in different cultures, and as the sole marketer at the table they loved my creative ideas, and I was chosen to create a lively presentation summarizing our discussion.
I then regrouped with my fellow marketers, and…not so easy. We each had different ideas on how to approach the subject and rather than consensus or dialogue, we ended up with a laundry list of 45 different considerations related to intercultural identity and service delivery. Sure, great to brainstorm and have ideas, but at the end of the day our “mono-culture” discussion (marketer to marketer) was more challenging than our “cross-culture” (engineer to marketer) discussion.
The discussions are fascinating–how to create a framework or model for inter-cultural service science. We are a multi-displinary group looking at systems to facilitate cross-cultural communication, whether it be national origin, cultural identity or organizational culture.
The process also is worthy of note: in talking about culture, participnts own cultural identities became a moot point, it was their ideas, knowledge and area of academic research that were most important.