Coworking Spaces: Culture, Communication, and ICT for Development

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The first journal that we chose to review is Coworking Spaces: Culture, Communication, and ICT for Development: A Caribbean Study, written by Deborah Dysart-Gale, Kristina Pitula, and Thiruvengadam Radhakrishnan. It was published in Journal of Transactions on Professional Communication, volume 54, issue number 1 in 2011. This research problems are to development projects in information and communication technologies may fail if local users perceive them as incompatible with existing work practices or cultural values. The social service department of a developing Caribbean nation present study examines cultural communication in the design of a prototype information-management system and the requirements-engineering process required communication within a culturally heterogeneous group of local and outside stakeholders.

Researchers have become aware of the importance of cultural factors in facilitating the design and diffusion of culturally appropriate communication technologies in recent years. The criticism has emerged on one hand against overinflated assessment of technology as a panacea to “break down cultural barriers and bring world peace” and against an overemphasis on cultural factors. On the other hand, is viewed as the sole determining factor in technological diffusion. The discipline of professional communication, with its pragmatic attention to the circulation of information among stakeholders, is uniquely positioned to chart such theoretical and practical middle ground. The relationship between communication and culture is complex are Communication patterns are determined by culture and altered by technology. These complex interactions become visible at the level of professional communication within an organization or community that can be understand better these interactions, the impact of technological innovation upon the communication practices of the social work department of a small English-speaking Caribbean country to replace the existing paper-based system for tracking the provision of client services. The stakeholders of the system held diverse beliefs and values regarding social work and were also divided in their attitudes toward the proposed technological innovation that was been discovered in the research.

In other words, like many countries in the region, an important portion of its wealth comes from citizens working overseas for extended periods. While this migration infuses necessary cash into the economy, it prevents the community of the full social contributions of some of its most talented and resourceful members. Unemployment and the migration patterns of the country’s most able citizens serve to raise the relative proportion of residents requiring social services. Anticipating a reduction in foreign aid as a result of the global economic recession, department administrators resolved to follow the example of neighboring countries in acquiring a computerized client database. This was done to improve service delivery by reducing redundancy, monitoring programs, and enhancing the quality of grant applications through the inclusion of statistical evidence of service need and program efficiency.

Meanwhile, Professional communication offers an alternative perspective to reductionist or essentializing definitions of culture. By focusing on the artifacts through which information is circulated within communities and organizations. Professional communication scholarship views culture as one variable among several that create verbal differences. The verbal differences come from a wide variety of sources, including disciplinary or educational background, gender roles, perceptions of genre constraints, and linguistic habits. St. Amant likewise notes that although English has transcended national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries to become the language of choice for professional communication, “human rhetorical expectations and preferences vary from group to group and culture to culture” with specific regard to scientific and technical communication. Furthermore, the growing dominance of computer and online writing in international professional communication has created an expectation for linear exchanges of typed text. These observations leave little question that rhetoric is culturally inflected. Practices of written and spoken communication determine the activity and work processes of organizations.

In other effect and factor due to communication observational data, the constraints of distance work of eliciting requirements for the database and workshops through telephone and email correspondence with the department supervisor over a period of approximately three months. However, although the administrators clearly outlined the behaviors that needed improvement, they were less able to provide a detailed description of the positive changes in professional oral and written communication they wished to see implemented. The administrators were unable to convey their vision of ideal or desired professional writing. The administrators also discussed the desired content of the capacity-building workshops, identifying the shortcomings they perceived in the SAOs’ professional communication.

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SAOs’ “undisciplined” behavior and made general statements about deficiencies in their quarterly reports and other writing because of this inability to provide clear guidance about their expectations for the SAOs’ writing, the administrators requested a seminar in writing skills to utilize and organize the data into effective, useful reports. To prepare for the workshop, we assembled instructional materials on a variety of professional communication topics from which the SAOs could choose as a means of customizing the curriculum of their two-day skills-building workshop. In contrast to the positive discussions with the administrators, however, our first interviews with the SAOs revealed their resistance about the database.

The organizational culture of the department given the low priority to writing and the written word. The department believe keeping record to them as “paper based” it was better described as “talk-based” their preference for obtaining information about the proposed database system through the discussion of schematic PowerPoint slides as opposed to the text-heavy.

After observing and analyzing the cultural aspects of the departmental work practices, scheduled workshop with the officers have begun. To introduce the database project and solicit the SAOs’ input into its design for the first. Secondly, to provide instruction in professional report writing. The author acknowledged as “the computer expert” (Pitula) conducted the first hour of the workshop, scheduled as a collaborative discussion of interface design and general discussion of the project. Although cordial, respectful relations existed between the researchers and the SAOs, the officers again showed reluctance in this discussion. They restated their opinion that the database had no practical value, insisting that the current paper-based system already provided complete, adequate information about client needs, if only the administrators would take the time to carefully read the reports and recommendations. A further concern was that the database was another in a series of disruptive and ultimately ineffective technologies introduced “to make the administrators look good.” Finally, they expressed concern that working with computerized records would negatively impact interpersonal relationships with clients, who “will just become numbers for us.”

A thorough review of the literature revealed more should be done the relationship among culture, communication patterns, and technology, which we explored through our observations of the departmental stakeholders. Administrators’ expectations of professional communication were shaped by their cross-cultural experiences in their overseas academic studies. However, they had no objection to participating in skills-building workshops that included a significant writing component. It was within the context of the writing workshop that the SAOs worked to formulate persuasive arguments for the administrators that required statistical, quantitative evidence. The long-term acceptance of the database and its impact on the department’s professional communication patterns, both oral and written are further studies that underway to be assessed. It is anticipated that these studies and workshops will reveal improvement in written records and track the integration of the database in the daily departmental work processes. Ultimately, it is hoped that the stakeholders will use the database and other new technologies to improve their existing communication practices, enabling them to develop the rhetorical skills to engage productively with a wider audience of developers, donors, and other communities facing similar social and economic disruption.

In the current literature review, a major limitation discovered helpful to adopt an ethnographic approach as outlined, focusing our attention on the stakeholders’ subjective experience of the database and its potential impact on their workplace. This approach took us in a different direction then Hofstede’s dimensions of national culture to account for the process of technology diffusion. Secondly, gained an appreciation of the SAOs’ ability to adjust their rhetorical strategies to fit the expectations of an expanded audience and to incorporate the database in these strategies. This discussion decreasing as group members gained familiarity and facility with new ideas.

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