Journal of Intercultural Communication, Issue 21, October, 2009

Jonas Stier & Margareta Sandström Kjellin

Communicative challenges in multinational project work: Obstacles and tools for reaching common understandings


Focus of this article is communicative challenges in multinational project work as well as how such challenges can be managed. By analyzing their communication in so called reflective dialogues and email correspondence the discussion sheds light upon how the participants of one such project talk about the meaning and pedagogical fruitfulness of horizontal classroom dialogue, and the degree to which they themselves actually communicate in a horizontal fashion within the project group.
Drawing upon the discourse on classroom communication and intercultural communication data was subject to a qualitative analysis. Among other things, different aspects of horizontality in the dialogues were discerned but no significant differences in terms of indexicality were found. It was also shown that variations in the degree of horizontality-verticality in the dialogues and email correspondence may originate in different views on gender, project management and relationships between colleagues.
Moreover, it was shown how reflective dialogues can be a useful tool for arriving at a common conceptual framework within a crossnational collaborative project. This said, the results can presumably be transferred to multicultural, and monocultural classrooms, to teacher teams analyzing problematic (or successful!) learning situations before ’taking measures’, or in order to raise teachers’ intercultural awareness.

Key words: Horizontal – vertical dialogue; moral mediation; classroom interaction

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