Good practice principles for CPLs working cross-culturally
To help Collaborative Partnership Leaders do their work effectively, the Centre for Academic Quality Assurance has developed the following good practice principles.
Do your homework
Ensure you have a basic familiarity with the country your partner is located in, the customs and traditions, the people, the organisation, the dress code and business etiquette. You might want to find out about the hierarchy and how important it is and who reports to whom.
Develop reliable information sources
You might contact the International Recruitment Manager in the International Office for country specific information or you might make contact or speak to someone from that country or a colleague who has visited before. Please refer to the Collaborative Partnership Leader Database to identify colleagues who support partners in the same country or organisation.
Explore communication preferences
Different cultures have different ways of communicating. Establish expectations about verbal communication and in particular pace and conciseness, language used, humour, enunciation, directness and firmness. Be aware of cultural non-verbal communication nuances such as the use of eye contact and body language and views on personal space and gesticulation.
Adjust your communication style as appropriate
Make particular efforts to keep your communication clear, simple and unambiguous.
Understand and explore
Don't be afraid to enquire about other people's culture. Be appropriately curious. Explain things about your culture and teaching, learning, assessment and quality assurance practices at the University. Explain why certain things are important. Explain with clear rationale what might happen if rules are broken.
Appreciate and acknowledge similarities and differences
Explore and respect the teaching, learning, assessment, quality assurance, and student engagement practices of your collaborative partner.
Invest energy in understanding not judging
Keep an open mind. Do not make assumptions that practices are deficient or wrong if they are different to what is done in the University and United Kingdom. Recognise and respect country and institutional differences.
Cope with cultural surprises
No matter how much you prepare in advance, you will find yourself faced with people and/or practices that you find puzzling. When you do, try to find out why. Doing so will often lead to new insights.
Convey a genuine interest in the partner
Building trust takes time. Allow time for this in your schedule. The acquisition of cultural competence is a dynamic, on-going, developmental process that requires a long-term commitment and is achieved over time.
Reflect and seek feedback
Reflect on and learn from your interactions and experiences after they occur. After an interaction think about whether you got the messages across you intended.