THE CULTURAL QUEST: COLLABORATIVELY-DERIVED INSIGHT ON SYSTEMIC ORGANIZATIONAL DYNAMICS
1 Parsons The New School for Design (UNITED STATES)
2 Fachhochschule Potsdam (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:This paper concerns the development of tools that enable teams of culturally dissimilar and geographically dispersed students to leverage endogenous group discord as a means of gaining valuable insight into systemic organizational dynamics — the social and technological forces that define the types of work with which such teams are engaged along with each individual student’s ability to collaborate with his or her teammates. Particular attention is given to a research methodology called the "cultural quest" which we developed in the context of a design-oriented course on the urban environment that was offered to undergraduate students located in the United States as well as Germany. Based upon a relatively common ethnographic technique known as the cultural probe, with which insight is generated by instructing members of the population of interest to document specific aspects of their immediate environment, the cultural quest serves as a means of gathering local, indigenous perspectives on social and artifactual facets of culture. What distinguishes the methodology is the collaborative manner in which such insight is generated and the perspectives that this process affords on systemic dynamics that extend across multiple levels of analysis. After explicating the conceptual framework within which we developed the cultural quest, we articulate the methodology in detail and exemplify its pedagogic value with samples of student-generated work. We then describe ways in which we are tailoring the methodology to address specific curricular constraints and discuss the use of cultural quests in other forms of research and design practice.
Keywords: design, research, organizational behavior, collaboration, pedagogy.