Media Effects: Online Communication and diversity in values and behavioral norms

Welcome to the Forum on "Diversity, Values, Cultures, and Behavioral Styles"

We are looking forward to engaging with participants from all over the globe to consider how these topics impact or can potentially impact disputing and dispute resolution online. 


To start our discussion:
We, along with several other forums on different topics, are invited to engage in a shared analysis of a single case.  We hope that this  will make for a stimulating interdisciplinary, multi-foci analysis.
 
Later in the week we will be introducing further questions about our  forum topic that are not related to the case.
 
Please review the following case and then jump into the discussion!

Ecotourism media effects case.pdf

 
After having read the case, here are a couple of questions to get us started:
*What cultural factors do you think might have influenced the  development of the dispute(s) and that might impact the parties as  they attempt to address the dispute(s) through the use of technology?
 
How might differences in values and context have impacted the  dispute(s) and disputants that they will bring with them "to the virtual table?"




Moderator Bio:

Leah Wing


Leah is on the faculty in Legal Studies in the Political Science Department at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, USA and is Co-Director of the (USA) National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution.  Her research and teaching focuses on issues of power and identity and their effect on disputing on and offline.  Leah has served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Association of Conflict Resolution (2002-2008) and as a member of the editorial board of Conflict Resolution Quarterly since 2002.


Some of her recent publications include: 


Wing, L.  Mediation and Inequality Reconsidered:  Bringing the Discussion to the Table.  Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Vol. 26, 383-404, 2009.


Wing, L.  Whither Neutrality?  Mediation in the Twenty-First Century.  In Trujillo, M.A., Bowland, S.Y., Myers, L. J., Richards, P.M., and Roy, B.(eds.), Re-Centering Culture and Knowledge in Conflict Resolution Practice. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008, 93-107.


Katsh, E. and Wing, L.  Online Dispute Resolution in the Last Decade and the Future. Toledo Law Review, Vol. 38, 101-126, 2006.



Vance Jackson

Vance is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Psychology Program at Green Mountain College.  He received his BS in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Master’s degrees in Community Counseling and Social Psychology from Ball State University, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University.

 

Vance’s teaching and research interests focus on ways that people interact with the social environment around them.  Specifically, Vance is interested in examining ways that negative attitudes, stereotypes, and systems of privilege affect traditionally marginalized populations. In addition, he is interested in examining how gender stereotypes influence the workplace.  Vance teaches numerous courses that explore ways that culture influences our daily lives. In his spare time,Vance enjoys spending quality time with his wife and dog. He also enjoys hiking, playing guitar, reading, and playing soccer.


Sample Publications


 Refereed Journal Articles

Jackson, Z.V., Wright, S.L., & Perrone, K.M. (In Press). Work-family Interface for Men

              in Nontraditional Careers. Journal of Employment Counseling.

Perrone, K. M., Jackson, Z.V., Perrone, P. A., Wright, S. L., & Ksiazak, T. M. (2008).


Perfectionism, achievement of potential, and attributions of success among gifted adults. Advanced Development: A Journal on Adult Giftedness.

  Perrone, K.M., Perrone, P.A., Ksiazak, T.M., Wright, S.L., & Jackson, Z.V. 
(2007). 

Gender differences in self perceptions of giftedness among adults in a longitudinal study of academically talented high school graduates.  Roeper
Review, 29,
259-264.





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Replies to This Discussion

I think that addressing these disputes through the use of technology might bring about the same issues that I believe influenced the development of the dispute. There are three countries involved here: Japan, the U.S. and Belleza. It seems that an important factor to realize here is the vast difference in technology which these countries have access to. As discussed in the beginning of the case, the authoritarian regime in Belleza is currently making an attempt to improve the country's financial situation and "reinvigorate tourism." The case states that the infrastructure of the tourism industry is basically in its infancy and still requires a lot of investment to bring it up to where they would like it to be. With that being said, it seems that there must be a major gap in the technology available in Belleza, as opposed to that available in the United States and/or in Japan. The U.S. and Japan are both very developed countries, and are two of most technological advanced in the world. It seems to me that this gap in technology may be part of the reason as to why this dispute occurred, and is probably another reason why disputes such as this may continue to occur between the travel agency, the hotels and the tours which are provided to Belleza's visiting travelers. What would be a good way to go about resolving this dispute online, when technological advances seem so different?
Catherine raises a wonderful question that stimulates other questions for me:

*should we begin conflict interventions that potentially could involve the use of technology with an inquiry to the parties about what access to technology they have or need to fully participate?

*what if intervenors routinely included technology-related questions in the list of what they ask disputants--about the conflict itself? For example, if the intervenors asked the parties how technology or if technology was a part of the landscape of the dispute.

How else might technology be an implicit part of the landscape of the context for the parties in this dispute?
Leah
The case study raised the issue of corruption/bribery (one frame) versus engagement of local knowledgeable consultants (another frame) as a concern. I think there is an awful lot here that has both to do with local cultural norms and patterns of structural violence. The founder of Transparency International, Peter Eigen, gives a Ted Talk on the corruption issue, speaking about the waste he saw while working with the World Bank on large development projects that didn't really serve the local people well at all. I know this is moving a bit far afield from resolving the case in the scenario, but the question of what is a culturally appropriate exchange of money for access or services, as a way of adding money to a poor economy, and the improper influence of wasteful corruption seems like something to keep in mind. I know there are growing movements to use web technologies to map or report bribes and corrupt practices, and these could qualify as ODR, yes?
Within this conflict, there were already numerous parties involved. There were three countries involved had been the U.S., Japan, and Belleza. The three countries have different cultural practices, to deal with certain situations. As stated in the facts about GMC, it seems that Belleza is a government that is corruptible if you know the right people and have money. It seems that the communication between the Japanese tourist company and Belleza tourist service had a misunderstanding. It seems first, there was a miscommunication of hotel services to be provided. There was a novice guide through the mountains, as well as a novice kayaking instructor. Cultural misunderstandings would have brought up the fact that this would make anyone else upset, because they had paid a lump sum of money, expecting something of a higher level than what was presented.
When the two groups address the dispute, they must have a thorough analyses of the situation, if they are to broadcast it via media. One side of the conflict would want to reestablish or salvage what is left within the business relationship, in order to stay in business. The other wants to hold the business relationship until they find a suitable other for replacement. The values of both parties would possibly be the same, but the underlying context, or reasons of keeping the contracts would alter relationships.
Thanks everyone for a great discussion. After reading the case, several questions arise for me:

*In general, what effects did cultural differences have on the evolution of the conflict?

*Are there specific cultural misunderstandings that could occur when using an online mediation (videoconferencing) format? How could these be avoided? Also, are there cultural misunderstandings that could be avoided by using this online format?

*So much of our interpersonal communication is actually nonverbal. Do online mediation formats limit our ability to fully communicate with one another? As a negotiator, are there advantages/disadvantages to limiting your nonverbal behaviors?

Vance
Touching on a corner of Vance's questions, it would seem to me that even agreeing to participate in a process at this stage might have different cultural connotations, both on the transmitting and the receiving side. One side might intend their agreement to participate as an apolgetic, respectful or placating gesture, and the other might interpret it as an aggressive or arrogant move. And, vice versa: One party might intend their participation as simply a business-like approach to settling a dispute, while the other interprets it as a sign of apology and blame shouldering (an assumption that will certainly be shattered in the conversation itself!). I'm not going to go so far as to suggest which of these possibilities might best suit a US, Japanese or Belleze party, with what little I know about cultural dynamics in those of those countries which really exist, to say nothing of that which doesn't... Still - food for thought?



Vance Jackson said:
Thanks everyone for a great discussion. After reading the case, several questions arise for me:

*In general, what effects did cultural differences have on the evolution of the conflict?

*Are there specific cultural misunderstandings that could occur when using an online mediation (videoconferencing) format? How could these be avoided? Also, are there cultural misunderstandings that could be avoided by using this online format?

*So much of our interpersonal communication is actually nonverbal. Do online mediation formats limit our ability to fully communicate with one another? As a negotiator, are there advantages/disadvantages to limiting your nonverbal behaviors?

Vance
In regard to Vance's questions, I think that online communication could allow for many cultural misunderstandings. For one, not being able to physically face the other party may cause initial tension. Every culture is different, there may be practices or social norms that come into play that would affect an online conversation. If translators are needed, the online format may cause the discussion to take much longer, again aggrivating tensions. Also, in some cultures certain words or phrases do not translate exactly from one language to another, which may cause another point of issue, the online format can exacerbate this issue as well. Also, I agree with comments made earlier by Catherine. The technological stages the countries are in differ dramatically. The fact that Japan and the US are adquatey versed in technology and Belleza may be in the beginning stages could be a major contributing factor the dispute. It seems to me, that as the online world expands though, online conflict resolution will as well. Having the ability to use videoconferencing and other online formats just expands the way people across the globe can communicate and dispute.

Vance Jackson said:
Thanks everyone for a great discussion. After reading the case, several questions arise for me:

*In general, what effects did cultural differences have on the evolution of the conflict?

*Are there specific cultural misunderstandings that could occur when using an online mediation (videoconferencing) format? How could these be avoided? Also, are there cultural misunderstandings that could be avoided by using this online format?

*So much of our interpersonal communication is actually nonverbal. Do online mediation formats limit our ability to fully communicate with one another? As a negotiator, are there advantages/disadvantages to limiting your nonverbal behaviors?

Vance
I think this dispute definitely catches all parties involved between a rock and a hard place. In regards to Vance's question about cultural misunderstandings...I have to agree with the point that Mary made. It is true that many things, especially certain expressions we may use, do not LITERALLY translate (and may in fact translate and offend the other party not understanding the culture and context in which it is used). This poses a problem to just having a translator who has merely learned the language. It would probably be best (and of course easier said than done) to have translators on both sides who are fluent in both the language AND the culture of both countries. Again, this is easier said than done. Videoconferencing is probably the most personal way to solve online disputes, and also the best when it comes to verifying identity. But, the need for translation may significantly slow down this process.
The need to understand the cultural meaning behind words has been highlighted by both Mary and Catherine. (And I also offer up the notion that we need to understand the cultural meaning behind what is not said, sometimes). As I write that I want you to hear the emphasis in my voice so I looked for the ability to italize. But I have learned that many folks would think that I was yelling if I put that all in capital letters. Has anyone worked on a case online in which they have asked the parties to explain their cultural meaning behind what they are saying? How did that work out? Or has anyone created or used more sophistocated software that provides for a richer analysis of the text to explicate the cultural underpinnings--not just more icons--but really helps the parties understand the cultural meanings?
Leah

Vance Jackson said:
Thanks everyone for a great discussion. After reading the case, several questions arise for me:

*In general, what effects did cultural differences have on the evolution of the conflict?

*Are there specific cultural misunderstandings that could occur when using an online mediation (videoconferencing) format? How could these be avoided? Also, are there cultural misunderstandings that could be avoided by using this online format?

*So much of our interpersonal communication is actually nonverbal. Do online mediation formats limit our ability to fully communicate with one another? As a negotiator, are there advantages/disadvantages to limiting your nonverbal behaviors?

Vance


This has already been touched upon by Mary and Catherine, but I believe that online or electronic communication in general can be extremely limiting. Cultural misunderstandings is definitely an issue here as we have three vastly different cultures involved but I think that settling disputes online can be problematic even within a single culture. As Vance said, much of our interpersonal communication is nonverbal. Personally, I know that talking on the phone or video chatting, even with people I'm very close to, can be misleading simply because you cannot see their body language in its entirety. Even in the case of video chatting, people can feel a strong disconnect without the direct, face-to-face interaction that we're used to and misunderstandings can easily arise. As humans we rely heavily on body language and we react differently to situations when we're limited to verbal and/or partial body language.
I think the point Vance brings up about a lot of interpersonal communication being nonverbal is very important to this situation as well as ODR in general. The cultures involved here are very different, so as others have said it will be difficult to properly convey one's true message through a computer screen. While different cultures speak different languages, many nonverbal ways of communication are more universal. Things like body language, posture, and facial emotions are pretty much understood throughout the world. The lack of nonverbal communication could certainly be a problem of ODR. One positive about the use of ODR is that it is easier to keep emotions in check in an online situation than it is in person. With a contentious subject, it is sometimes hard to remain civil in the heat of an argument. Online resolution allows one to focus more upon the facts of the situation instead of emotions. This would be beneficial to a mediator and arbitrator as well.
I believe that it is the use of technology that can be considered one of the main problems in this case. Belleza obviously doesn’t have access to the same types of technology that both Japan and the United States do. Therefore, we have to assume that they cannot operate their tourism business with the same efficiency that Japan and the U.S. can. This will inherently lead to problems when trying to coordinate between these countries. Also, Japan and the U.S. are both considered developed countries, while Belleza would not be. They are simply trying to get their tourism business of the ground, and as in every new business there are going to be problems that arise in the beginning. A solution to this problem may be a technical analyst from one of these countries going to Belleza and helping them upgrade their technology to where it can work seamlessly with those in the U.S. and Japan. I believe that when the parties of both GMC and the tourism company from Japan/U.S. sit down at this virtual table that they will be able to hash out their differences rather smoothly. Both companies need the other if they wish to flourish in this new endeavor. I believe that they will come to an agreement on a sum of money to be repaid to the Japanese company, so long as their business relationship can be maintained after their negotiations.

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