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effective communication in engineering, scientific, and other technical environments
  • ProComm2017

Communication Across Borders: Strategies for International Group Communication and Cooperation

500px-blank_globe-svgIncreasingly, engineering projects are crossing national boundaries.  Groups working together are having to work in virtual, physically dispersed teams, making communication practices both more challenging and more essential to the success of a project. While the field is still young, communication researchers have started to catalogue challenges and identify key strategies for improving virtual communication across borders, such as Pam Estes Brewer’s book International Virtual Teams: Engineering Global Success.

Marjorie Rush Hovde’s 2014 IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication article,  “Factors that Enable and Challenge International Engineering Communication” [1], provides a concise explanation of the nature of the challenges. From the literature in the field, she identifies cultural difference as one of these challenges, but breaks it down further into two categories:

  1. Assumptions, knowledge, etiquette: Cultures work on different sets of assumed knowledge and beliefs, and assuming a shared set of knowledge and beliefs amongst all members in an international team can be problematic.
  2. Communication styles: Cultures also have different communication styles, based on social conventions and accepted behaviours. Interrupting may be seen as rude in one culture, yet expected or even desired in another.

Her own research, observing engineering team meetings between a US and UK design team, revealed more specific differences creating challenges between groups.
Below are a selection of differences that you might not have considered:
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4Q16 Special Issue of IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication on Entrepreneurship Communication

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The December 2016 special issue of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication on entrepreneurship communication has recently been published online. If you are a paper subscriber, you will receive the issue, printed together with the … [Continue reading]

The Impact of Indirect Speech Acts on Professional Communication

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We don't always say what we mean ... In fact, we often avoid direct speech acts – saying what we mean – in the service of politeness and conflict avoidance, relying instead on indirect speech to communicate complex thoughts. An indirect … [Continue reading]

Greg Pogue on Entrepreneurial Communication

We asked Greg Pogue of the IC² Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, who, with Clay Spinuzzi, hosted a session and panel on entrepreneurial communication at ProComm 2016 about the fundamentals of making a good "pitch." Watch his response … [Continue reading]

Bruce Maylath on the Cult of Monolingualism

At the 2016 IEEE ProComm conference, we asked Bruce Maylath, winner of the 2016 Ronald S. Blicq award, about the cult of monolingualism and the dangers it presents to communicating technical work. Listen to his responses and examples in the video … [Continue reading]