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Designing for China Report on intercultural design

Jue Ming Exchange B2.2 s116447

Nina van Adrichem B1.2 s117932

Sander Dijkhuis B2.2 s108968

Assignment: DG406 Intercultural design Assignor: Vera Winthagen Date: April 24–June 5, 2012 Department of Industrial Design Eindhoven University of Technology

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Abstract Based on the framework from Geert Hofstede, values of Chinese culture are explored through examples in various product categories. These are translated into design recommendations, which give rise to a hypothesis about intercultural design.

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Table of contents

1

Introduction

4

2

About China

5

3

Products in China

10

4

Collectivism in China

21

5

Hypothesis about intercultural design

28

6

Conclusion

30

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Chapter 1 Introduction In a globalized economy, designers need to be aware of the values of people in other cultures. This is not only important when designing for these cultures, but also when collaborating with people. In this assignment we have developed such awareness and skills to learn more about other cultures. We have also explored the question how we use this knowledge to bridge differences or design for people with different values. The main source of this assignment was Cultures and Organizations. 1 Most of the terminology and definitions used is based on this source, and will therefore not be cited as much every time. First, a brief introduction on China is provided. Then, Chinese values are explained based on several product categories and dimensions defined by Hofstede. A hypothesis on intercultural design is formulated. The report ends with conclusions and a discussion. This report is one of the deliverables of the Intercultural Design assignment. The other deliverables are presentation slides and personal reflections.

1

Geert Hofstede, 1991. Cultures and Organizations: Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for

Survival: Software of the Mind. Edition published in 2003 by Profile Books Ltd, London. 5

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Chapter 2 About China 2.1

Background and history China (officially People’s Republic of China) is the second-largest country in the world, while it is the world’s most populated county, with over 1.3 billion people. After the fall of Qing Dynasty in 1912, China was in a mess and without a government to rule over. At the same time, communism began to gain popularity in the country and those ideals attracted a majority of the people, who belonged to the lower strata were for these principles especially for the law of equality. The rise of Communism in China is mainly due to a man named Mao Zedong, who became founder of the Communist Party of China. Though under the communist socialism everyone is theoretically equal in every aspect of society, the practice of daily interaction shows the opposite in many walks of life. Meanwhile, the Confucian philosophy supports the ideology of a strict hierarchical system. Therefore, the combination of the two contradictory philosophies (Communism and Confucianism) creates an intricate social interaction and communication.2

2

Source: gowealthy.com, 2010. Communism in China. Accessed on 2012-06-06. 6

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


2.2

Policies It is unlikely that government policies have changed China’s cultural values significantly within the most recent years. However, two policies are strongly correlated to visible changes in society and interpersonal behavior. The first policy is the One-Child Policy, as a limitation in China’s more general population control policy. It has been introduced in 1978 to address overpopulation. It promotes one-child families and forbids couples from having more than one child in urban areas. Parents with multiple children are note given the same benefits as parents with one child.3

Figure 2.1: Expected change in China’s population distribution from 2012 to 2030 from International Futures. Source: Wikimedia Commons, February 6, 2012. License CC BY-SA 3.0.

3

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy 7

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Secondly, the Open Door Policy set in train a transformation of China’s economy. It was adopted in December 1978 by Deng Xiaoping. He realized that China needed Western technology and investment, and opened the door to foreign businesses who wanted to set up in China. Since the adoption, the country has grown to become the world’s second largest economy after the US.4 One visible result of this open market is in the branding of products.

Figure 2.2: Examples of foreign brands in China.

4

Source: David J. Franco, 2012. On the rise and rise of China: threat, challenge, opportunity? In: Ceasefire Magazine, ceasefiremagazine.co.uk. Accessed on 2012-06-03. 8

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


2.3

Hofstede Dimensions Figure 2.3. Ranking of China (in comparison with the Netherlands) according to Hofstede’s dimensions. Source: Itim International. China Geert Hofstede, geert-hofstede.com. Accessed on 2012-06-05.

Power Distance Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. In the case of China, there is a high PDI of 80. This means that Chinese people are accepting the inequalities amongst people more easily than people from the Netherlands do. There is conformity to hierarchy and authority. This is reflected in the strong influence of the Chinese government in for example press. Another example is social status; the way people refer to each other by using their title or age. The high PDI can also be seen in the marketing area; to promote a product there is often used a spokesman or model to appeal Chinese customers. For the younger audience, a celebrity can have a lot of influence, as for the older generations, showing images of the company founders and leaders can be appealing.

Individualism This dimension can be described as the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. With other words: to which

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


extent people are thinking about themselves as ‘I’ or ‘we’, which shows respectively the level of individualism or collectivism. China scores 20 in Hofstede’s IDV ranking, therefore it is clearly a collectivistic society where people are part of ingroups and supposed to take care for them in exchange for loyalty, instead of only looking after themselves. An example of this is the highly valued family bounding where individual’s desires and aspirations should be curbed if necessary for the good of the group. A more detailed explanation of individualism and collectivism in china can be found in chapter 4 Collectivism in China.

Masculinity This dimension refers to the differences in equality between men and women and on the other hand it refers to which extent the society is driven by competition and achievement. The masculinity index for China is 66, which means Chinese are highly valuing success. For example, people are very much focused on school performances such as exam scores. Another example in which masculinity can be seen is the fact that work comes over personal leisure time, or sometimes even family(when people have to work somewhere else). Also the role of women in the society is very limited; men take responsibility and power positions, even in urban regions where this difference seems to be less important than in rural regions. The one-child policy enhances this discrimination, because parents prefer to have a boy instead of a girl, because the boy can work and care for his parents later.5

Uncertainty avoidance Uncertainty avoidance is defined as the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these. In case of China, the UAI scored 30, which is a low ranking. This means there is a high degree of acceptance of uncertainty, so people are not afraid of what will happen in the future and they are not trying to control the future by rules, beliefs and structures. This rate is reflected in the Chinese language for example; which is full of ambiguous meanings

5

Source: Promotional Product International Blog, 2008. China Report: Cultural dimension of China,

www.ppiblog.com, accessed on 2012-06-05. 10

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


indicating that Chinese people are comfortable with ambiguity and they can be very flexible to suit a certain situation. Chinese are also adaptable and entrepreneurial, which can be seen as an indication of feeling comfortable when facing situations that have no frame or structure.

Long term orientation This dimension is focused on the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view. With the score of 118 on LTO, China is extremely long-term orientated, therefore perseverance and willingness to serve a higher goal are respected values. People are thrifty and sparing with resources and investment tends to be in long term projects, so chinese business partners can be easily offended by tight set deadlines for example. Also trust plays a role in long-term orientation; once chinese people established a personal and reliable relationship is it is hard to break and once a relation is broken, it is very difficult to re-establish.

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Chapter 3 Products in China

3.1 Children’s products One industry that clearly shows cultural values is the children’s products industry. It shows what decisions parents make for the next generation, and it can be assumed that those are based on the values they believe are important.

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


A market analysis has shown that even though the number of children in china aged 14 and below are decreasing, the revenue earned from children product’s market in China each year is increasing.6 This revenue increase can be explained from the fact that without siblings, one child is has a more important place in the family. Also, now six people care for it: two parents and four grandparents. Another factor is of course the large economic growth of the country in general. One Child Policy has made the younger generation of China who have been raised to believe that they hold a special place in the world. This kind of upbringing leads to individualism over collectivism.

Figure 3.1 Source: see footnote.

6

Source: Yiannis Mostrous, 2011. China’s Little Emperors: Profit From the Largest “Me” Generation in

History. In: Global Investment Strategist, ki.nlh1.com. Accessed on 2012-06-05. 13

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Chinese children’s TV While not exactly children’s products, there are some developments in the preferences on what post-80s and younger post-90s generations watch on TV.7 Specifically, the younger generation appears to prefer light rather than serious topics as they face heavy stress. They tend to be more interested in celebrities and trendiness rather than patriotism and heroism. Thirdly, they pay more attention to brand names. This development also seems to indicate a movement away from collectivism: traditional values are replaced by matters that allow people to develop their own personality.

7

Source: Siu Yu Hsu, 2011. Individualism and Collectivism in Chinese and American Advertisements.

Master’s thesis at the Liberty University, digitalcommons.liberty.edu. Accessed on 2012-06-05. 14

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Some specific Chinese children’s TV programs were found that reflect values. One striking example is Under the Same Blue Sky. 8 It showcased achievements of Chinese children as an inspiration. This has a nationalist element, but also fits with the above-average masculinity index as it promotes success and achievement.

Figure 3.2 Source: see footnote.

8

Source: Kara Chan, 2006. Children’s Television Programs in China: A Discourse of Success and

Modernity. Manuscript published in: The Discourses of Cultural China in Globalizing Age. Accessed from www.coms.hkbu.edu.hk on 2012-06-05. 15

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Toy categories

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


To discover about the way values are reflected in toys, the Chinese and American Toys�R�Us websites were compared.9 What was striking, and also verified in Dutch governmental advice10, is that construction, scientific and educational toys are often highlighted. While on the US website many toys for just playing together are featured, the Chinese site promotes educational toys for every age group.

9

Sources: www.toysrus.com, www.toysrus.com.cn, accessed on 2012-05-07.

10

Source: Agentschap NL, 2011. China: traditioneel speelgoed en spellen, www.agentschapnl.nl, accessed

on 2012-06-05. 17

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Figures 3.3 + 3.4: differences between websites of same company

In the same Dutch source, it is mentioned that sales of these toys have increased in 2010 by 21% and 20%. International companies are joining this trend: for example LEGO has opened an Education Center in Shanghai for children and their parents.

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Figure 3.5. Lego Education Center in Shanghai, 2008.11

This preference for educational and constructive toys are believed to be a sign of increasing individualism in which personal and self-directed development is more important than learning from teachers. It also serves as a preparation for the masculine society: by educating children well, they can compete better with others.

11

Source: YouTube, youtu.be/N0bEZ2UzKvQ. Accessed on 2012-06-03. 19

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Product quality

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Recently, huge problems have been identified regarding the quality of Chinese production. For example, in 2007, over a million toy trains were recalled because of lead paint.12 Within the domestic market as well, this raised demand for higher quality products. This helps explain the peculiar increase of revenue of children’s products.13 The government’s message is that the problems really are exceptions, but that it will pay more attention to verifying quality. “With Christmas drawing near, Chinese manufacturers will guarantee that their export toys are safe for children all over the world,” Li Changjiang, a minister with General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said at a press conference on Oct 17, 2007.14

12

Source: Dan Shapley, 2007. Can You Trust Toys Made in China? In: The Daily Green, thedailygreen.com. Accessed on 2012-06-03. 13 Source: Yiannis Mostrous, 2011. China’s Little Emperors: Profit From the Largest “Me” Generation in History. In: Global Investment Strategist, ki.nlh1.com. Accessed on 2012-06-05. 14

Source: China.org.cn, 2007. China pledges high quality Christmas toys. Accessed on 2012-06-05. 21

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Brands

One of the leading and fastest growing developers and retailers of children’s products in China is Boshiwa International Holding Limited. It carries proprietary brands like Boshiwa, Baby2 and Dr. Frog, and also licensed brands like Harry Potter, Prince of Tennis, NBA, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United, Bob the Builder and Thomas and Friends. 15

15

Source: Boshiwa International Holding Limited, boshiwa.cn. Accessed on 2012-06-05. 22

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


From a brand awareness research done in 2009, targeting at mid-high end children’s apparel market in China, showing that Harry Potter is one of the higher brand that mid-high end children recognised. This actually shows that young generations in China grew up in a society where they are exposed to not just local brands, but also influenced by brands from the western countries. This would not have been possible without the Open Door Policy mentioned eaerlier. The desire to express oneself by brands in general is linked to increasing individualism.

Figure 3.7

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Baby skin care

An Euromonitor analysis of beauty and personal care mentions that while there is a global growth of baby skin care products, China is a main driver of this growth. It accounts for 51% of total global growth in baby skin care.16 Apparently, one-child families also pay more for healthcare of children.

16

Source: Cosmetics Business, 2011. Children’s market - doing it for the kids, cosmeticsbusiness.com.

Accessed on 2012-06-05. 24

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Conclusion Chinese children’s products reflect values. Trends are moving towards individualism, even though as a whole, China is still a collectivistic country. The highly competitive society, a sign of masculinity, gives a large amount of pressure to the younger generation. Design recommendations Based on the findings about children’s products, two design recommendations were formulated. In children’s products, focus on the fact that most of the children have no siblings. Create products that stimulate development, allow for playing alone and customization. Rather than aiming for cheap mass production, aim for high quality products as sales in those areas are increasing. For example, create safe products of eco-friendly materials.

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


3.2

Communication products Chinese people are really willing to use new media, tools, and services, so China has an enormous market for communication products. A good example of this is the internet branche in China. In figure 3.8 can be seen that the number of internet users was growing rapidly the last 12 years and there is expected this number of internet users will reach more than 650 million in 2015 (still, this represents only half of China’s total population). Surprisingly, only about 20% of China’s population owns a PC, so people are going a lot to Internet cafés, they use shared computers in workplaces or other households.17 In total, China as a country, spends more than 1 billion hours online per day. In conclusion, there can be said there is a huge market for developing (internet) products, which is for example also reflected in the popularity of social networks and instant messaging.

17

source: BCG report China’s Digital Generations 2.0 May 2010. 26

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Figure 3.8: source: 18

18

source: http://www.china-mike.com/facts-about-china/facts-technology-internet-media/ 27

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Censorship As mentioned earlier, the government has a strong influence on what Chinese are allowed to communicate through for example the internet. By having a strong censor policy, the authorities try to protect itself from being criticized by the people. They constantly try to prevent rumors and critical discussions from being published through the web and actively shape public’s opinion to a positive view towards the government. For example by deploying a ‘cyber’ police, which cleans up the content of websites when it may threats the government. Another example is the 50-cent party; where commentators are hired by the government to post positive comments towards communist party policies on all kinds of chatrooms and messaging sites. Chinese people are accepting this kind of censorship policies, which can be reflected on the high power distance index China knows. People conform with authority to set boundaries even when this limits their personal freedom of speech. Also collectivism plays a role in these censorship policies, because it can be seen as a way to avoid conflicts and keep harmony in the group, which is a very collectivistic value. Besides this actively shaping opinions from Chinese on the internet, the government has also banned a number of foreign and domestic sites and services on beforehand. Foreign companies who want to launch their sites and services in China should conform to the strict laws, which some companies, such as Google, refused for the reason that they had to have internal content monitors and this would affect their content quite badly. 19Besides protecting policies from negative opinions, the government tries to protect the economy by blocking popular foreign sites and let the domestic market have its opportunity to serve the huge internet market in China.

19

source: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/malcolmmoore/100070017/why-does-china-block-foreignwebsites/ 28

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Figure 3.9 + 3.10: comparing YouTube with Chinese clone YouKu

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Social network clones While the international websites and services are blocked by the government, Chinese versions of exactly the same concepts are popping out of the ground and growing rapidly in number of users. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, internet communication is still increasing popularity in China, so the Chinese are willing to use the social network ‘clones’ if the original foreign sites are blocked. For example, Youku is an copy of the foreign website for posting videos: Youtube. Sina Weibo seems to be the Chinese microblog forum platform just like Twitter, and QQ is looking like the instant messaging service MSN, as well as Renren is a clone of the social network of Facebook.20

Instant messaging QQ is an example of one of the most popular Instant messaging tools in China. The service already counts more than 700 million users (which is about 50% of China’s total population) This extremely big number can be explained by the fact that Chinese people are preferring IM rather than mailing, as can be seen in figure 3.11. Using IM enables the users to have conversations on a more indirect level than personal real life conversations. The use of loads of emoticons to express feelings is also contributing in this indirectness while communicating. This seems to be linked to the Hofstede dimension of collectivism. Compared to faceto-face and phone communication, IM is rather indirect. Indirectness in communication is linked to collectivism, as it creates a safe layer to keep in harmony with contacts. Rather than directly reacting on another person’s words and giving direct access to voice pitch and other ways of talking, there is time to formulate a reply and accompany it with visual emoticons.

20

source: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/152/behind-the-great-firewall-of-china.html 30

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Figure 3.11: source21

Design recommendations Based on the findings about (internet) communication in China, two recommendations are formulated to keep in mind while designing for China: Make use of the fact that real time- and instant communication is still increasing popularity. Designing such a platform or service can work out really well, however only when conforming to all laws of the government. Due to the facts that only 20% of the population owns a PC and the phone population is increasing, designing for a more mobile application will also be an opportunity to attract Chinese users. 3.3

21

Insurance products

source: http://www.china-mike.com/facts-about-china/facts-technology-internet-media/ 31

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Insurance industry As well as almost all other markets in China, the insurance market is also growing. From 2000 to 2007, the average growth for life-insurances was 30,9% and non-life insurances 20,0%. Auto insurance had the biggest part up to 70% of non-life insurances. For the life insurances, life, health and accident premiums had respectively a 88,6%, 7,6% and 3,8% share. Not only the total profits of the premiums are increasing, Chinese people are getting covered for health more and more during the last 12 years. In figure 3.12 can be seen that 25% of the China’s population in 2000 has been developing to 95% of the population who is covered for health issues in 2012. Therefore, the target the government had set to insure every citizen (rural and urban area) for medical care in 2010 is almost reached. 22 Figure 3.12: insurance premiums 2000-2007

Figure 3.13: Health insurance coverage23

22

Source: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/11/08-060046/en/index.html

23

Sources: Cynthia L. Tomovic (Editor), 2000? Working Across Cultures - China: Cultural Profile. Purdue

University website. Factsanddetails.com website, 2005. Health Care in China. Shanlian Hu, 2008. Universal coverage and health financing from China’s perspective. WHO website. China Knowledge website, 2009. China Insurance Industry.

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


These huge growths can be explained by the fact that since China has opened up to international business (see open door policy in chapter 2.2), after which the economy in general was rapidly growing, so Chinese people got a better personal financial situation as well and eventually got more interest in being insured well. On the other hand, the open door policy caused competition in the insurance market, so domestic and international insurance companies were fighting each other to provide the best and cheapest insurance to the Chinese people. Next to the economical reasons, since 2009 the government is trying to improve the medical and health system in China, so especially in rural areas, subsidies are provided to farmers to get them proper health insurance. 24 Insurances and Hofstede dimensions The insurance market is not the first thing you will think about while discussing cultural values, but it seems that there can be found a few conclusions related to Hofstede’s dimensions actually. Uncertainty avoidance index is low in China (30), which means people are not afraid of the future, so why are there so many life insurances? It may be a bit far-fetched, but the low uncertainty avoidance rate can make Chinese people feel comfortable with thinking about death and unforeseen situations, so it is not a crime to buy a life insurance anymore. That is exactly the point where another dimension is important, namely collectivism. People put others in the first place in collectivistic societies as China. Life insurance is especially taken to be sure the family got no (financial) troubles after death/diseases. So this is a very collectivistic thing to do: taking care for beloved ones even before something happened. This is also correlated with the dimension of long term orientation, because Chinese people are thinking about the long term consequences for their children already while taking insurance for them. For example, in china there exist certain kinds of insurances where savings and insurances are combined together as one package. This money can be used for expensive events like when the child want to study or marry and at the same time they are covered for medical care. 25

24

Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-02/23/content_14672547.htm

25

Source: https://statistics.wharton.upenn.edu/files/?whdmsaction=public:main.file&fileID=1761 33

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Conclusions There can be concluded that the insurance product market is growing, especially the life insurances are increasing, partly due to the government policies and economic growth in general. Design recommendation The insurance market is not really an area where you can design a lot, but one factor may have some opportunities to be creative: the advertising/promoting side of insurances have a lot to do with the Chinese values. It is therefore important to build trust with the customer and create a personal relationship, use family relationships(collectivism).

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


Chapter 4 Collectivism in China

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


4.1

About individualism and collectivism When we asked other students during our presentation how important they find it to visit their grandparents regularly, most of the local students spent like once a month, some even met up with their grandparents twice a year. When we compared it with the culture in China, people are expected to visit their family members at least once a week. Even when there are no special occasion, it is the presence of each family member that matters. Definitions from Hofstede: “Individualism pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family.” “Collectivism pertains to societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive ingroups, which throughout people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.” The degree of Individualism in the society can be measured by individualism index (IDV), where individualism index score low for collectivist and high for individualist society. The dimension was strongly associated with the relative importance attached to the ‘work goal’ items, with individualist pole being having personal time, a job which leaves you sufficient time for your personal or family life. Freedom, where you have considerable freedom to adopt your own approach to the job. And having challenging work to do, from which you can achieve a personal sense of accomplishment. Whereas for collectivist pole, having training opportunities and having good physical working conditions are important. As well as being able to fully utilise your skills and abilities on the job.

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Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


4.2

Individualism in China From the Individualism Index (IDV): We can see that Netherlands scored 80, ranked 4-6 as a highly individualist society, compared to China scored 20, ranked 58-63. In China, they view other cultures with less collectivistic philosophy as cold and not supportive. Collectivistic cultures have a great emphasize on groups and think more in terms of “we”. New individualism: projection of status, but no independence of society. “The leading goose gets shot down.”26

Figure 4.1: ranking countries by IDV A Pepsi-Lays commercial in China which highlights the importance of gathering together for reunion dinner during Chinese New Year Eve. It is one of the most important events in the New Year’s Evening, where it reflects how Chinese society values the importance of family. The dinner gives all the family members a chance to get together and enjoy the happiness of a family union.27 Figure 4.2: Screenshot of Chinese pepsi commercial

26

Source: Tom Doctoroff, 2009. Winning Designs in China: Standing Out to Fit In. In: The Huffington Post

(web), 2009-07-26. Accessed on 2012-06-06. 27

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqMgxwAXuP0 37

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


A futuristic design of a Chinese car in 2025. How the design of the car is cater based on the values in China. The seats of the car are places in a semi circle facing each other rather than the conventional seating of rows, highlighting the high-context versus low-context communication in China.28 Figure 4.3: example of design futuristic car

It is out of question to disagree with someone’s opinion in public. You will do that in a more private and personal atmosphere to protect a person from the “loss of face”. In collectivistic cultures a direct confrontation will be always avoided. Expressions or phrases are used which describe a disagreement or negative statement instead of saying no. Saying no would mean to destroy the harmony in the group. 29 In school, class are treated as an ingroups. Bonds within a class are quite strong, where there are inter-classes competition and how students in a class got to work together, this creating a sense of togetherness as an ingroups. In a collectivism education system, institutions emphasize on learn to do, whereas in a individualist education system, students are taught how to learn to learn. In the workplace, the relationship between employer and employee or business partners is based on trust and harmony and a deep understanding of moral values. The wealth of the company and the groups inside are more important than the individual ones.30 Mao Tse Tung, the Chinese Communist leader of the 20th century and the principal founder of the People's Republic of China said, “Individualism has been interpreted as representing the selfish, class nature of the bourgeoisie, against which the Communist Party has counterpoised proletarian collectivism and reliance on the Party.”31 Here are some key differences between collectivist and individualist given by Hofstede. collectivist

individualist

private life invaded by group(s)

everyone has a right to privacy

opinions predetermined by group

everyone expected to have private

membership

opinion

28

Source: Partnership Johnson Controls: the 2025 Chinese car. In: L'école de design (web), 2011-09-12.

29

Source: http://www.via-web.de/individualism-versus-collectivism/

30

Source: http://www.via-web.de/individualism-versus-collectivism/

31

Source: Andrew J. Nathan. The problem of individualism in modern Chinese culture. On the web:

tsquare.tv. Accessed 2012-06-06. 38

Designing for China: report on intercultural design Jue Ming, Nina van Adrichem, Sander Dijkhuis


laws and rights differ by group

laws and rights supposed to be the same for all

low per capita GNP

high per capita GNP

dominant economic role of state

restrained economic role of state

political power exercised by

political power exercised by voters

interest groups press controlled by the state

press freedom

ideologies: equality > individual

ideologies: individual freedom >

freedom

equality

ultimate goals: harmony and

ultimate goal: self-actualization by

consensus in society

every individual

Figure 4.4: Maslow pyramid of human needs

4.3

Design proposal Original design: MyWater

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Figure 4.5: final prototype MyWater

The original project we have chosen to make a redesign was Nina’s B1.1. project ‘Relax, eat well and have a good night of sleep’ in the theme of Changing Behavior. After a lot of brainstorms, explorations and choices there was set a direction for the project: finding a way to stimulate people to drink healthier. Thus there was the idea to do this by making the users drink more water instead of unhealthy drinks as coffee and soft drinks. In order to achieve this, research and user tests showed that the design should constantly provide water to the user, the water should be fresh and cooled and it has to offer the water to the user to drink with the least amount of barriers and actions required. When one wants to drink water, he has to think of where to get it first, then stand up, go there, fill a glass or bottle, and go back to continue work. To reach the goal of stimulating people to drink healthier, the number of barriers should be reduced here. This turned out to a design for a personal water dispenser on every desk in the workplace, as can be seen in figure 4.5. With the dispenser on the desk the user can just grab the glass and drink! Even when he does not even think about drinking water, the dispenser will remind the user of a automatically filled fresh glass of water when he has not drank for like an hour by fading in subtle lights. This way it stimulates the user to drink more water in a positive way without forcing him to do this.

Figure 4.6 shows a schematic of how the devices are divided. Every employee has his own device, which he gets from a basis station where it Figure 4.6: division of devices amongst employees.

gets cleaned and charged every night. At the time of the design process, there was not thought about cultural values that much, but now we can see that this personal water supplier device is an individualistic approach.

Redesign: OurWater

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As can be read in chapter 4.2, China has a highly collectivistic culture. Therefore we wanted to add more collectivistic values to the redesign of the water dispenser, so we thought of sharing the drinking experience with an users’ in-group instead of satisfying the needs of only one employee at a time. We thought of making one device for multiple users(see figure 4.7), and besides all triggers from the original design(availability, no barriers to get it) we thought of triggering the group to drink together by changing the taste of the water when more people are joining. Figure 4.7: division of devices amongst employees in new design

Technology This seemed to be an ambitious goal, but we have found a just-released technology for changing taste of water using a small current. This way, the water still remains healthy and nothing needs to be added. Therefore, we expect this technology could be applied in our redesign in the near future as well. This technology now only works when drinking via a drinking straw, so that could be a new barrier for the user to get water. So as in figure 5.5 is showed, the more users are participating in drinking, the ‘better’ the taste of the water will be. Nevertheless, there should be done research on how exactly a certain flavour of water is being experienced to be able to reach the final goal: invite social drinking, without forcing the users.

Figure 4.8: Source: Nakamura, H., Miyashita, H., 2012. Development and Evaluation of Interactive System for Synchronizing Electric Taste and Visual Content. In: CHI 2012.

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Figure 5.6: Possible designs for OurWater. First one is based on the original appearance. Second one does look much more inviting.

Figure 5.5: Changing taste when more users joining

4.4

Interview with Wei Chen We also asked feedback from Wei Chen, who is originally from China and assignor here at the Industrial Design department. She said that she liked the concept of sharing with the group, but she thinks Chinese people are not sharing that much activities with each other, but more their experiences. So it should actually start a discussion topic like 'how does it taste?', 'how does it work?', 'would you like to try it?' It is more about the sharing experience and communication. In terms of work, she also said that people in china are communicating differently than Dutch people. Chinese people are talking more indirect, avoiding the point. Chinese culture tend to observe more of people's body language and the conversation itself to know more about hidden meaning, thus even if you don't speak it, people will guess. Also overworking is very common and not seen as a negative thing there(shows high rate of masculinity). If everybody is still at work, they just stay there support their colleagues. So individuals supporting the group is given high value for Chinese people.

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4.5

Conclusion Individualism/collectivism influences human relationships everywhere. In the family, school, work, state, and politics. We think that when designing for specifically individualism or collectivism, you really have to think whether you are designing for a group or for individual needs. Keep the characteristics of this target group in mind to be able to find opportunities to design for. The shift from collectivism towards a more individualistic behavior can be very interesting to design for. Although it is increasing very slowly and gradually, Chinese people (youth in particular) are trying to stand out in their own ingroup, without wanting to draw too much attention on themselves, which is still a very collectivistic fact.

4.6

Design recommendations A design for collectivist values might be more effective when it gives rise to interpersonal interaction indirectly. I.e. not ‘force’ interactions. So enable users to share the experience together after/while using the product for example. When designing for the highest human need according to the Maslow pyramid, it is important to determine whether self-actualization or group actualization is intended. In order to design for the growing individualism in China, it is important to not go too far. The goal should be to design for “standing out while fitting in”, as explained in this section.

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Chapter 5 Hypothesis about intercultural design

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As remarked by the assignor Vera Winthagen, no definitive framework exists yet to design for other cultures. Therefore, the research and design exercises serve as inspiration towards a hypothesis about intercultural design. After several remarks about the requirements for such a framework, a hypothetical design process and approach are formulated. From the research, it is clear that products can tell a lot about cultural values. Therefore it is important to pay attention to these values when designing products, and to look at existing products to learn about the values. As shown, we have been able to identify design opportunities in all product categories. Also, as especially seen with the collectivistic values in China, these are defining how people feel in communication. Therefore, an intercultural design framework should not only be about products, but also about collaboration with people from other cultures. The redesign of MyWater shows how different cultural values can inspire original designs. The new OurWater concept could be fit for the Chinese market, but even in Dutch society this can be an innovation. Therefore, an intercultural design framework will not only be useful when designing for other societies, but also when seeking inspiration for original designs. The theory by Hofstede does not give a complete view on culture that is directly useful in design. It helps however to point out major directions to look for, and as the research in this report shows, can be successful in relevating interesting aspects of culture. The step of doing own research specific to product categories is considered essential in order to develop useful knowledge. Based on the experience of this assignment, we think that it is possible to design for another culture. This is our proposal for a design process to do so: 1. Find products in the category that you are designing for. 2. Reflect on links with Hofstede values. Also use Hofstede values to look for scientific research about the values in this industry. 3. By acting out scenarios in order to create empathy and evoke imagination, develop a concept towards a prototype. 4. Ask an expert from the targeted culture for feedback on the concept related to his/her own values. 5. After cycles of steps 3 and 4, create a prototype that can be put in context.

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6. Using Hofstede’s framework as a guide of what to look for and observe and interview people using the prototype in context. At all contact points with the people from the other culture, it is essential to keep their values in mind when communicating. Not doing so can hurt, cause miscommunication and is likely to cause bad results. This process is summarized in the visualization we made below.

Strategies for intercultural design.

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Chapter 6 Conclusion In this report, Chinese values were explained and illustrated with many examples. These were linked to design opportunities, which led to a more general hypothesis on intercultural design. The most defining and dynamic value in China seems to be collectivism. In different product categories, developments and conflicts were found regarding this value, and especially the move of younger generations towards individualism. Another striking aspect was the direct influence of Chinese government on behavior. It cannot be concluded yet that values are changed, but the way cultural values are expressed by people’s actions can apparently change in a matter of years. Both examples show that even though Hofstede provides a useful characterization of cultural values, it is important to look at concrete contextualized examples in order to find the subtleties and dynamics of a culture.

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DG406: Intercultural Design  

Report on Assignment DG406