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.