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Bridging the Academic/Business Divide

Finding Common Ground as Interculturalists


By Christopher Deal


In November of 2007, I presented a forum on this topic at the SIETAR USA Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. SIETAR is the Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research. The theme of the conference was Culture and Conflict.


There was a lot of interest in the academic/business divide at the conference and apparently elsewhere as well (I’ve seen it on various blogs). It appears that many people are struggling with these issues. However, this divide is evidently neither discussed widely nor considered to be a cultural conflict. In the presentation, I suggested that we reframe it as a cultural conflict. If we accept the premise that academia and business represent unique cultures, there are several implications.


The first implication is that we should treat each culture with the same level of respect we usually reserve for national, ethnic, and other cultures. That step alone is likely to reduce conflict. Another implication is that we should attempt to shift our frame of reference and adapt to each culture as necessary.


By recognizing this divide as a cultural conflict, it helps us to stop the cycle of degradation that we may sometimes feel justified in perpetuating. We are often rewarded by our respective ingroups when we degrade or denigrate the "other," whether that be academia or business. We must realize, however, that such degradation is wrong, based on the intercultural principles we strive to live by.


I have included a link to the handouts from the session below. Since the presentation took the format of a forum, a large majority of the time was devoted to discussion. The PowerPoint slides included in the handouts were basically just a starting point for the discussion.


Forum Handouts (pdf format, right click and select Save Target As . . .)


I hope to write more on the topic in the future. I also look forward to the opportunity to continue the discussion we started at the conference.


© 2007 Christopher Deal.