Cultural Ergonomics: Volume 4


Table of contents

(16 chapters)

My warm thanks to Dean James Hunt, Provost, and Professor Jacqueline Muir-Broaddus, Chair of the Psychology Department, for making a home at Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas, for cultural ergonomics and the International Center of Cultural Ergonomics, and for facilitating preparation of this book. Southwestern students Kendra Francisco, Staci Benson, and Ellen Gass contributed helpful assistance. At Elsevier, Fiona Barron, Publishing Editor, has been extraordinarily helpful, and the consideration and support there from Becky Lewsey and Deborah Raven have been particularly noteworthy. Dr. Pierre Falzon, Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers in Paris, made possible the acquisition of documents written by Professor Alain Wisner, who died recently. Computer advice and assistance provided by Richard H. Troxell have been invaluable. Communication and interchange of documents and information with Dr. Eduardo Salas at the University of Central Florida were facilitated by Marcella Maresco and Diana Furman.

Briefly highlighting aspects of the evolution of ergonomics, this introduction to the present volume emphasizes the breadth of the field and acquaints the reader with the emergence of cultural ergonomics as a new sub-discipline. It interweaves in the account comments by the editor on the book’s twelve chapters and some notes relating to the new addition.

Ergonomics has so far been largely an American and Western European discipline. For that reason, present-day ergonomics is not robust enough to cope with the many large and important differences that one finds among the people of the earth. These differences are discussed under five major headings: anthropometry, language, physiology, psychology, and customs and practices. In each case, the differences are so great that they require substantial modifications in commonly accepted ergonomics principles and practices. In some cases, the technical design problems involved in adapting equipment to non-Western societies have required the development of new ergonomics principles. Failure to take account of national and cultural variables may nullify the gains that one might reasonably expect to follow from the application of ergonomics in many areas of the world.

Constraints on human-machine systems’ performance are generally treated as due to anatomy, physiology, and cognitive or behavioral limits. It is assumed that research findings can be universally applied to the design of such systems. It is now clear that social and cultural constraints are equally important, even in simple work systems. Context and culture are at least as important as limits of cognitive ability, and in many situations social and cultural factors are the dominant constraints on performance. This is particularly true in the cross-cultural transfer of advanced technological systems. A particularly clear example is given by population stereotypes of stimulus-response relations.

This chapter is focused on the specification and integration of intercultural variables for human machine systems and the description of content analysis for these variables. Starting with basics of culture-oriented design, these are followed by an approach to machine localization issues and a cost model, then basics of the intercultural design and human machine system engineering process, a definition and specification of intercultural variables, a systematic treatment for their integration into the process, and a description of how to use these variables in the process. Finally, an example of an intercultural variables approach to “information coding” in a human-machine system is presented for China and Germany.

Since much of the design work for vessels and offshore installations occurs in countries other than where the vessel may operate or where the installation may be located, it is particularly important that the expected user be considered and accommodated through the design and operational phases of a project.

Within the framework of engineering design and marine operations, this chapter will discuss “soft” issues, such as organizational and line management decisions and personnel selection procedures, as well as “hardware” issues related to design of living and working environments. In particular, the chapter will address how culture should be considered while identifying “user” needs and requirements.

This paper presents the safety case for the consideration of cross-cultural factors in aviation by focusing on cultural interfaces, those situations where members of one culture encounter people or artifacts from other cultures. Global aviation is strongly influenced by the USA and Western Europe as the largest manufacturers and largest customers; hence almost all cultural interfaces are weighted in favor of the dominant users. The challenge for safety is not to ignore or eliminate these interfaces but to manage the potential threats they pose. To move forward, there is a role for those inside and outside the dominant model.

The focus of global training has primarily been on preparing employees to work effectively in other cultures, such as in expatriate training, acculturation training, and training for technology transfer. One issue that has been ignored is the implication of using training systems that are developed in a specific cultural context and then deployed globally. This chapter proposes a framework to show the influence of culture on one aspect of training effectiveness, the transfer of newly learned skills to the job. Specific relationships are proposed, using Baldwin and Ford’s (1988) transfer of training framework as a guide, and also by synthesizing findings from areas such as cross-cultural psychology, human resource management, education, and technology management.

Seeking to equip industrially developing countries with functioning factories and machines, the author first used the concepts, knowledge, and methods of ergonomics. He then discovered that it is also necessary to develop, test, and use other concepts, other knowledge, and other methods, especially by bringing into consideration the human sciences (geography, demography, epidemiology, sociology, economics, linguistics, anthropology, history) for orienting such countries to means of actualizing technical devices. Reflecting this thinking, the present note proposes an anthropotechnological approach to improve international technology transfer.

This chapter asserts that, notwithstanding the forces of globalization, the gap between Industrially Advanced Country (IAC) “haves” and Industrially Developing Country (IDC) “have nots” is increasing. Poverty, deprivation, over-population, illiteracy, and sub-optimal working conditions attend this scenario. This widening chasm, among other things, feeds discontent which, justified or not, exacerbates tensions. To the extent that this view is valid, the challenge for ergonomics is to contribute to a narrowing of the gap by recognizing that the vast majority of the biomass of humanity is engaged in basic IDC, not advanced technical IAC issues. Their needs are best met by culture-compatible, participatory, small-scale, unsophisticated, low-cost improvements that can be easily assimilated. Strategies for assisting in redressing the imbalance between IDCs and IACs are discussed.

Intercultural interactions, in domains such as civil aviation and international peacekeeping, expand awareness of national differences in cognition. At the same time, experience with national differences in natural settings provides a more complex picture of cognition. The Cultural Lens Model captures the nature and origin of the cognitive differences. This paper reviews cognitive dimensions that vary over national groups. It uses the Cultural Lens Model to describe the implications of these cognitive differences for five intercultural challenges: problem definition, planning, coordination, prediction, and training. Finally, the paper suggests mechanisms for increasing international effectiveness in the face of cognitive differences.

How do you efficiently design a global yet local user experience for Web sites? Arguably, the user-centered design approach has been one of the best methods in designing a successful user experience for Web services in the initial market, but why isn’t this process applied to international markets? This chapter makes a case for applying a user-centered design process to the international expansion of Web sites and discusses issues impacting the creation of a successful user experience for local audiences. Although this chapter primarily focuses on designing large scale Web services, many of the principles can be applied to any sites that undergo internationalization.

Most traditional research on work groups has studied groups and teams that are homogeneous with respect to culture. To alleviate the dearth of material on culturally heterogeneous teams, this chapter provides an overview of the impact of cultural diversity on groups and teams in today’s workforce. First, we focus on the problems involved in defining the constructs of “teams” and “culture.” Second, we provide a brief review of the cultural factors that have been identified as affecting human performance. This review serves as the basis for the third section of this chapter, which investigates if – and how – cultural heterogeneity affects team performance. Finally, we conclude with how culturally diverse workplaces can be managed and how to improve performance when faced with cultural diversity.

Fostered by technological developments and globalization, culturally diverse teams are becoming a mainstay of organizational strategy. As the use of multi-cultural teams continues to increase, it becomes paramount to understand the mechanism(s) by which leaders can promote effectiveness within these teams. Despite this need, there are numerous challenges facing those who seek to understand these phenomena and move science and practice forward. The purpose of this chapter is to present a few of these challenges and approaches which can assist in mitigating these challenges. Finally, we identify what we see as key research needs within this area.

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Book series
Advances in Human Performance and Cognitive Engineering Research
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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