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What happened in the Czech Republic: ESBD project part 1



Kirjoittanut: Jemina Pennanen - tiimistä Flyyna.

Esseen tyyppi: Akateeminen essee / 3 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 9 minuuttia.

Written by Flora Lang, Seungyeon Shin & Jemina Pennanen

 

Introduction and What happened?

In the second week of November from 8.11 to 10.11, we spent our time organizing an innovation festival at the ESBD department of the University of Brno, Czech Republic. Wednesday was a “Finnovation Day” where we showed how we learn and what kind of projects we have at Proakatemia. We also presented some tools for understanding different cultures, an interactive program about EntreComp, and some inspirational speeches with guests.

 

In this essay, we would like to share our experiences from the planning, implementation, and aftercare phases of the project. How did the project happen initially, how did we go through the uncertainty when it came to event organization, how did we communicate with clients and other student organizers from the Czech Republic, etc.?

 

If we may give a brief history about how we got this project is: In early January of 2023, SYNTRE started the spring semester with a 48-hour challenge. Robert, a client from the Czech Republic, gave us the challenge to come up with a concept and content for an innovation festival at Brno University. The main purpose of the festival was to promote the value of entrepreneurship, and we needed to define the problems and suggest solutions for them. SYNTRE was divided into two groups with the students from the ESBD, and we were able to deliver our work to Robert successfully in the end. Robert was very happy about the outcome of our presentation, and he invited us to the Czech Republic to make the Innovation Festival into real life.

  • Figure 1: Examples of 48h challenge work from SYNTRE. 

 

If you want to learn more about the purpose of the festival and the goal of this project, please check the essay “SYNTRE will be an Innovation Festival organizer in the Czech Republic” written by Seungyeon Shin.  

 

What is Finnovation Day?

The festival was supposed to be a week-long programme starting on Monday, but our main responsibility was Wednesday, which we called ‘Finnovation Day‘, where we had to plan and organize the whole day’s programme. The programme had two parts: morning and afternoon. The morning part consisted of 2 big parts: cultural and educational sessions. 

 

Cultural sessions had a presentation done by Flóra and Jemina where it showed some culture mapping tools such as Hofstede, World Values survey and Erin Meyer’s culture mapping. From the cultural session the participants could learn some cultural differences with reliable tools and sources, also what contributed to Finland being a happiest country from the happiness report and Jemina’s personal story about how it influenced her to be more entrepreneurial. In the educational part, the Entrecomp: European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework was presented, as well as how we learn at Proakatemia.

 

In the afternoon, there was a Project Fair where participants can find both different kinds of Projects from Proakatemia and local projects. Also, we had Hans-Peter Siefen who is Nordic Business Forum co-founder and  group CEO, and also former Proakatemia head coach “Tirri” Tanja Verho. 

 

We wanted to make the day as Proakatemia style as possible. The goal of the day was to inspire people, encourage, learn how to be proactive, and ultimately being confident representing Proakatemia in the Czech Republic. To bring awareness about the value of entrepreneurship and teamwork; and the link between them by introducing different ways how we learn at Proakatemia and to spark the interests of Finland, entrepreneurial mindset and culture. 

  • Figure 2: Visual of Finnovation Day 

 

What we learned from the planning stage

The project was started and confirmed at the beginning of April 2023, but we started to work actively in September. In the meantime we received the travel allowance from Säätiön Hallitus 2000 Euro for 5 people, and two initial members who were supposed to take part in the project had to be changed due to difficulties with work during their exchange programme. 

 

What we struggled a lot at the beginning was the confusion that is coming from uncertainty, and communication with a client and students from ESBD who were supposed to collaborate with us. Here are some of the challenges we faced.

 

  • It was hard to plan the program as we did not know any information on the approximate number of participants. How should we plan the day? Should we make plan B also?
  • The budget for the festival was not defined or given by the client. How should we make an offer to the client and price our work in the circumstances where no budget was given?
  • The collaborating team of the ESBD was very confused because of the lack of information about a festival, so we were either confused how and what to share the work of collaborating.
  • How should we track the plan and our work? Excel or any other tool? 
  • How should we market the festival?

 

Saara Eriksson, the project manager of the Sprint Innovation Festival, gave us some valuable tips and it helped us a lot to find answers to these questions. Here are some tips from Saara. 

 

  • Ask the client and define the target group. Find out what kind of space we have for the festival.
  • Think about what we are providing, in other words, what we are selling to the client. What are we going to do in the planning, execution, and after stages of the project? Price your work and make an offer based on these. 
  • Create a shared workspace where all the project members can see the whole picture of the project: what are the things done, what is going on now, what needs to be done in the future. It can be a Miro board or Notion. 
  • There are so many tools for project management like Excel, but Notion is a good tool as you can put all the things in the same place as well as already existing templates for tracking the projects. 
  • Create an information pack containing basic information about a festival: what, where, when, what to expect from the participants. Make a poster based on this and print it out or email it to teachers or students.
  • People do work when they know what they are expected to do. Make a 30 minutes weekly meeting with ESBD students to be clear about roles and responsibilities.

 

  1. Culture session

The goal of the culture session was to reflect on how culture and its norms affect us when it comes to the entrepreneurial mindset. This was also the time for learning about different cultural theories and comparison tools to make working in an intercultural team and working with teams from other countries easier and more predictable. In the first half of this session the participants could learn about stereotypes, while later we went into the theories of Hofstede and Erin Mayer; and looked at the World Value Survey. The final part was more about the Happiness Report.

 

3.1. Generalization, stereotypes, and their escalation

Generalization refers to the phenomenon of characterizing people of the same group with similar or the same attributes and behaviors. It is a flexible and useful hypothesis that can give a general idea of drawing boundaries when participating in intercultural communications that later one can test and draw conclusions from that individual instance, (Bennett 2013). Even if the hypothesis was multiple times confirmed. Generalizations can be positive or negative. 

 

Once our generalization becomes a belief of the whole group, it will be called stereotypes. Stereotypes usually are about gender, religion or country of origin. Stereotypes are most often negative, however, they can be positive. (AFS-USA n.d.) Stereotypes can occur of one’s own group, called in-group or about people outside of the group called out-group. Having a stereotype about the in-group is auto-stereotype while having stereotypes is called hetero-stereotype. (Vasecka n.d.) 

 

Both types of stereotypes will develop throughout time and throughout different ways and very specifically. This means that even about the same out-group the stereotype will be different depending who we ask. For example, Finns may have different stereotypes about the French than Russians will have about the French. This is because stereotypes form through expereinces and through generations, translated from historical contexts media,  sociologically, etc.  (Fiske 2017) 

Stereotypes are a negative phenomenon as they can turn into prejudice and then discrimination. Prejudice is a negative attitude towards the out-group, while discrimination shows in the behavior. (Takano et al. 2023)

Figure 3. From Stereotypes to Discrimination

 

3.2. Hofstede and World Value Survey

3.2.1. Hofstede

*It is important to note that when we talk about culture, it doesn’t represent every individual of that culture. It is an overlook of the data representing the average of the individuals in the given culture*

Culture: the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time (Cambridge Dictionary)

Geert Hofstede (1928-2020) was a Dutch social psychologist, who was one of the first (if not THE first) to study cultures in comparison to each other. He set up 6 elements on which culture can be observed and compared. On the Finnovation day, we focused on 3 of them ( numbers 1, 2, and 5)

The points on the scale vary from 0 to 100.

Figure 4. Hofstede culture comparisons between Finland, Brazil, and Nigeria (Hofstede Insights)

  1. Power distance (low versus high)

Individuals of a culture are naturally not equal. This spectrum observes the degree of inequality and its appearance between the more and the less powerful members of the culture. In a low power distance culture such as Finland, there will be a more flat-like hierarchy observed in the work life, education, and even in the home life. In high power distance culture, a clear and strict hierarchy can be observed, which is respected by the culture as a whole. Many Asian, South American, and African cultures have high power distance.

  1. Individualism (individualism versus collectivism)

In individualistic cultures such as Finland, it is most important for people to take care of themselves and their very tight community. In collectivist cultures, loyalty is a keyword. The members of the group will first and foremost take care of each other. This can extend further than just the close family or even extended family. It includes the whole village. With the lowest score on the scale, Nigeria is an example of a fully collectivist culture.

  1. Motivation towards achievement and success
  2. Uncertainty avoidance
  3. Long-term orientation (normative versus pragmatic)

Normative cultures (lower end on the scale) will be more traditional and doubtful of change. Nigeria and China will be very much on that end. Pragmatic cultures on the other hand are open for change, update their practises more often, but are encouraged to make sustainable choices. 

  1. Indulgence

 

Hofstede on its own, although interesting isn’t giving the full picture. When comparing countries and cultures, one needs to look at the reasons (historical, geographical, social) and other factors to conclude. One of the easiest things to observe is that the more individualistic a culture is, the higher the GDP per capita will be. Similar conclusions can be drawn by using other rankings and measurements.

Culture comparison tool: https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison-tool

(The Culture Factory n.d.) 

 

3.2.2. World Value Survey (https://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSOnline.jsp)

The World Values Survey is one of those tools that we can combine with Hofstede to get a better understanding. World Value Survey collects data on people’s values and beliefs across cultures. These values and beliefs can be compared to other countries or to themselves as the data is available in waves of 5 years. The most recent spans from 2017 to 2020.

Example questions:

  • Q1: Important in life: Family
  • Q6: Important in life: Religion
  • Q17: Important child qualities: Obedience
  • Q25: Neighbor: Unmarried couples living together
  • Q142: Worries: Losing my job or not finding a job

World Values Survey also made a depiction of culture on the scale of traditional vs secular and survival vs self-expression values.

Figure 5. The Inglehart-Welzel World Cultural Map 2023 (World Values Survey 2023)

 

Traditional vs. secular values: Traditional values emphasize the importance of obedience, religion, traditional family models, and nationalism. Secular values rely on self-expression and promote independence. 

Survival vs. self-expression values: Survival values focus more on certainty in aspects such as money or health. Cultures towards the survival scale tend to be more nationalistic or more devoted to certain beliefs. Self-expression values on the other hand have more room to freely express and act on individual beliefs.

 

References:

AFS-USA. n.d. What are Generalizations & Stereotypes? Retrieved 11.11.2023

 

Bennett, M. 2013. Stereotypes/Generalization. Extended Encyclopedia Entries

 

Fiske, S. 2017.  Prejudices in Cultural Contexts: Shared Stereotypes (Gender, Age) versus Variable Stereotypes (Race, Ethnicity, Religion).  Princeton University. https://oar.princeton.edu/jspui/bitstream/88435/pr1dt88/1/nihms868339.pdf

https://www.afsusa.org/study-abroad/culture-trek/culture-points/what-are-generalizations-and-stereotypes/#:~:text=Cultural%20generalizations%20involve%20categorizing%20members,interact%20with%20a%20certain%20culture.

 

in C. Cortés (Ed) Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10.11.2023. https://www.idrinstitute.org/resources/stereotypes-generalizations/

 

Inglehart, R., C. Haerpfer, A. Moreno, C. Welzel, K. Kizilova, J. Diez-Medrano, M. Lagos, P. Norris, E. Ponarin & B. Puranen et al. (eds.). 2022. World Values Survey: Round Six – Country-Pooled Datafile Version: https://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSDocumentationWV6.jsp. Madrid: JD Systems Institute.

 

Takano, M., Nakazato K. and Taka, F. 2022. Dynamics of discrimination and prejudice via two types of social contagion. Science Direct. Retrieved 2.12.2023. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0096300323000851#:~:text=Prejudice%20refers%20to%20a%20negative,specific%20actions%20driven%20by%20prejudice.

 

The Culture Factor. n.d. Country comparison tool. Hofstede Insights. Retrieved 10.11.2023 https://www.hofstede-insights.com/

 

World Happiness Report 2023. Worldhappiness.report. https://worldhappiness.report/

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