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DG406 Intercultural Design Final Reflection Jacquelyn van Kampen 0732234 Assignor M. Verkuijl

Friday March 26, 2010


Theory I found the theory portion of this assignment to be very interesting. As I read through each section I often stopped and said “ahh yea, that is so true!” After reading through the theory I was able to understand what each value represented and more importantly, how I can use them as a designer. I learned that countries with a high power distance might look for a design that shows a clear difference in hierarchy. When working with a client or group mate coming from a high power distance country there must be a respect for the highest member of the power. The most interesting value to me was uncertainty avoidance. I learned that uncertainty avoidance is a person or a culture’s extent of feeling threatened by uncertain events or the unknown. I think that this topic has the most interesting effect on design. It was said during the presentation that uncertainty avoidance plays a large influence on creativity. Seeing as I come from a country that has an average UA, I often compare my design work to designs from countries with high or low UA. I found that it is not so much in the final design where the difference can be seen but more in the design process. The countries with a high UA often have a very structured process full of planning and deadlines, where as a low UA design process would be much more free flowing. This was demonstrated and is explained further during the workshop reflection. I also found an interest in the masculinity vs femininity value. I had not heard of this value before studying Hofstede’s book however I can relate to this theory on a very personal level. I explain this further in the next section entitled self-reflection.

Each culture has individual values, rituals, heroes and symbols that are meaningful to them. When I reflect on this model for my country, I was able to create the following chart.


Canada Symbols Heroes Rituals Values

Self Reflection I moved to Eindhoven from my hometown of Conestogo, Ontario, Canada In August 2009. I have always felt an interest in The Netherlands. I traveled with my family to Holland when I was twelve years old and knew right then and there that I wanted to live here someday. Ten years later, here I am studying industrial design at the Technical University Eindhoven. I think the value that attracted me to The Netherlands was the quality of life. People would sit outside on a terrace all afternoon enjoying a coffee and chatting with friends. As I have learned now, this shows high femininity. Although this seemed to be appealing to me I did struggle with adjusting to a “feminine� way of life.


As a Canadian, I have grown up with many similar values as The Netherlands. Our PDI and IDV values are almost identical. The largest difference can be found in the femininity/masculinity dimension. I had many talks with my coach about my adjustment to the Dutch society. The very first question I asked my coach was, “what can I do in order to get an ‘E’ verdict?” My coach, a native Dutch man, laughed and told me he had never had a student ask him that question before. He then explained that my ambition was refreshing but that I might find I stick out because of my competitive nature.

I understand now why my coach was so struck by my question. The Netherlands is a very feminine society and the need or want for competitive behavior is very low. I grew up being told I must go to University in order to succeed. Having a good education would eventually lead to a successful life. Also in my society you have to fight in order to get ahead. I also became aware that I personally possess a slightly higher than average level of uncertainty avoidance. When it comes to preparing for presentations I am sure to be prepared well in advance in order to be fully aware of what needs to be said or done. I used the Hofstede values to reflect on the “society” of the department of Industrial design at the TU/e. I find it very interesting how within our department there is a very low level of power distance, the coaches and assignors are on the same level as the students. Also the femininity level is very high within the department. I have noticed there is barely any competitive behavior. This is very different from the Industrial Design programs I considered in Canada and the United States. I wonder how this sort of a learning environment will affect me as I develop into a designer.


Workshop Reflection My group chose Turkey as our country to represent during the workshop. Turkey has a very high level of uncertainty avoidance. We used this value in our business meeting by creating many charts and diagrams full of facts and figures. We presented in a very organized manner. Another value that we used to represent the Turkish culture was collectivism. We were sure to confer with each other before anything was decided. This being said, because of the high power distance the final decision was made by the oldest male in our group. The workshop was interesting because we were doing business with a country whose individualism was very high, masculinity was high and uncertainty avoidance was very low. Our two cultures contrasted. This caused the biggest problem when we, as a country with collectivist values, wanted to establish a relationship with our client and they only were interested in doing business. I don’t think this would have resulted in a business deal because our country would never feel comfortable enough with them. In the end a deal was not made. Through the process of the workshop I learned that I have to adjust my actions and approaches in order to make a successful business deal in another culture.


Design Through preliminary research we found the following facts relating to Jamaica. In rural areas, only 45% of households have piped water. 23% get water from standpipes and 23% use rainwater tanks. 8% of rural households rely on rivers, streams and ponds for their water supply. Most villagers have to travel distances to get their water supplies. When the water supply breaks down, National Water Council (NWC) has to send trucks to provide villagers with water. The government aims to alleviate the situation by giving its villagers greater access to potable water in a cost-effective and efficient manner, with due regard to health and environmental considerations. It intends to do so through water shops, wayside tanks and individual household rainwater tanks and wells. Due to the high masculinity index of Jamaica, we expect the men of the household will be the ones who carry out the actual purchase of our proposed water bottle. However, since women are naturally more caring, they will be the ones influencing the purchase of the bottle for the betterment of their family. Jamaica also scores very low on the uncertainty avoidance index. This allowed us to be very creative with our design. Marketing campaign poster

Because Jamaica scores average on power distance and individualism we decided to focus on the values of high masculinity and low uncertainty avoidance. The design itself represents masculinity because of the very powerful pumping motion necessary in order to filter and shoot out the water. Also the bottle is quite large and strong looking. It represents low uncertainty avoidance due to the surprising way it squirts the water. This can be seen as fun and creative. Because there are problems with access to clean filtered water in Jamaica the bottle filters the water through the


pumping motion. The fact that the user can put contaminated water from any source into the bottle and just trust that the hidden filter will clean it represents a low uncertainty avoidance value. Low uncertainty avoidance is also represented through our marketing campaign due to the lack of professional input and facts or figures in both the commercial and on the poster. Masculinity is shown through the behavior of the characters in the commercial. Both the man and the woman show high masculinity values however the woman still cares for the household and for her husband. This would be appealing to our target group because they can relate to the characters. Reflection on Teamwork and Class Atmosphere I found the class atmosphere within this assignment to be very inspired. The lectures and presentations were very active. The questions asked during the presentations brought the theory and examples to the next level. This positive attitude really enhanced the learning experience for me. I developed my teamwork skills through this assignment also because our group was very good at dividing tasks and staying focused. We worked very well together. Overall Conclusion I am confident that I can use the theory learned through this assignment in the future. The theory is relatable and has influenced my perspective as a designer. I look forward to using this newly learned information to enhance my designs and business strategies in the future.


Intercultural Design Report