Facilitating Multicultural Groups: A Practical Guide

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 21 March 2008

Keywords

Citation

Hogan, C. (2008), "Facilitating Multicultural Groups: A Practical Guide", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 16 No. 2. https://doi.org/10.1108/hrmid.2008.04416bae.001

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Facilitating Multicultural Groups: A Practical Guide

Article Type: Suggested reading From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 16, Issue 2.

Facilitating Multicultural Groups: A Practical Guide

Christine Hogan, Kogan Page, 2007

Keywords: Facilitation, Multicultural societies, Training management

This is the latest in a series of books on facilitation from Christine Hogan. The previous titles were Understanding Facilitation and Practical Facilitation.

The book claims to “assist facilitators to prepare, facilitate and evaluate workshops where participants come from a diversity of backgrounds and/or cultures different from those of the facilitator”. As the author points out: “To some extent, all groups are multicultural; it is a question of degree.” Hogan provides concrete examples of strategies, models and processes that facilitators can use to improve their interaction with diverse groups.

The ten chapters fall into three main types. The first looks at the practicalities of delivering facilitation with multicultural groups (preparation with clients, workshop delivery). The second looks at the models of facilitation we use, their appropriateness to different groups and the strategies we can employ to maximize the chances of a positive experience (power and empowerment in groups, strategies to enable multicultural teams to be more effective, metaphors, stories of music and dance, visual techniques, language and silence). Finally there are chapters that explore facilitating for specific purposes (facilitating difference, facilitating reconciliation, facilitating with interpreters and translators).

Each chapter grounds the ideas in the academic discourse before going on to explore the issues in depth. Since this is a practical guide, Hogan provides models and frameworks with which to structure facilitation activities, as well as examples of workshop activities designed to highlight particular learning points.

Further support materials, including three more chapters, are available on Hogan’s web site (www.hogan.id.au). They include a chapter on gender, one on strategies to address HIV/Aids and a chapter on facilitating endings, evaluation and report writing. It is a shame that a chapter on gender is missing, since the way that different cultural groups address issues of gender is a key area for misinterpretation and conflict.

The detailed listing of all sub-headings under the contents page does suggest that the author sees this more as a reference manual than a book whose chapters are designed to be read consecutively. There is often a feeling that the text was originally conceived of as a web resource, where readers determine their own journey through the material, rather than a book with a linear narrative trajectory. This leads to sections where the content does not appear to flow from one point to the next. The book could benefit from a little more signposting and a stronger internal structure.

The examples used are taken from a wide variety of cultures but do have a bias toward those that are more familiar to an antipodean readership. Perhaps the work would have benefited from more examples relating to European, African and Middle Eastern cultures.

This should not detract from the fact that the book is packed with good advice, ideas and insights. It has numerous examples of activities that can be used by all facilitators to enable group members to get a better idea of themselves and their cultural drives. Additional resources on the web provide further practical support for those who wish to implement the ideas put forward in the book.

Reviewed by Peter Lassey.

A longer version of this review was originally published in Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 39 No. 6, 2007.