Research
TraKuLa

TraKuLa: Transcultural Learning and Competence Approach

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Innovation processes are shaped very differently by Chinese and German participants. Misunderstandings often arise in cooperation projects, because there is a lack of knowledge and strategy for dealing with these differences.

The TraKuLa research association pursues the question of what factors lie behind the failure – but mainly behind the success - of reciprocal knowledge transfer in German-Chinese cooperation projects in the engineering sector for research and innovation.

BACKGROUND

China’s economy has tremendously caught up with industrialised countries in the last 40 years. In the Chinese reform process, measures to improve knowledge and technology transfer and technology absorption from abroad were an important determinant for growth. From 2006 onwards, China started pursuing a new growth model and introduced political guidelines aiming to improve the national innovation capacity. The expansion of internal innovation capacities has also been supported by the "Go Global" policy, which aims to acquire the knowledge of foreign companies and integrate it into the knowledge pool of Chinese companies.

This change has made China become a global leader in innovation. The nature of cooperation between Chinese and foreign partners in research and innovation processes has also changed fundamentally. Nowadays, technology transfer is reciprocal, where partners have different, often complementary knowledge.

Both foreign and Chinese partners jointly have to generate new insights and innovations. Different motivations, capacities and transfer conditions between the partners become relevant, which are not yet well understood. Previous experience, which has not yet been systematically evaluated, shows that many German-Chinese cooperation projects in science and innovation fail due to difficulties in bridging such differences. The research association therefore aims to understand differences in culturally induced behaviour, knowledge cultures, motivation, prejudices, language, communication behaviour, regulative frameworks and personal relationships. In order to counteract dissonances, TraKuLa then wants to work out how these differences can be bridged and even made useful in innovation processes.

AIM OF THE PROJECT

The research association will analyse the differences in motivation and behaviour of German and Chinese cooperation partners in research and innovation processes. In this way, TraKuLa aims to show how to turn difficulties into a joint benefit. The research association thus wants to contribute to an improvement of German actors’ capability to cooperate efficiently and successfully even outside the ’Western‘ working culture.

RESEARCH PROGRAM

TraKuLa examines German-Chinese cooperation processes in engineering. Projects in this area are particularly suitable for researching transcultural learning in innovation processes. Because research in engineering is naturally geared towards applicability, it is possible to draw a line from the research process to the innovation process.

The transcultural competence and learning approach (TraKuLa) provides the conceptual framework. As a result of international cooperation, this approach does not only see a growing understanding of each other's abilities, but also the possibility of jointly developing new knowledge from the partners' different knowledge bases and approaches (see previous research by the Robak working group). This is based on the assumption of open cultures which develop cross-nationally and cross-organisationally, and which draw on aspects of different cultural resources. The approach is adduced to generate, interpret and transform knowledge in learning and innovation processes, and will then be used for the development of common practices.

The research association is divided into four sub-projects. The associates of the individual sub-projects, however, work transdisciplinarily and use the strengths of all participating disciplines. The individual institutes and members of TraKuLa have different roles in this process.

The four sub-projects of the research network:

The two engineering sub-projects "Risk and resilience" and "Databases" serve as the basis for observation. In each case, two research seminars and meetings between researchers and innovators in China will be organised. The research seminars bring together Chinese and German cooperation partners at university level to jointly develop their research planning, implementation and evaluation of engineering projects. At the "innovation meetings", German and Chinese researchers and innovators, i.e. company managers with economic interests, work out whether and how the research results can be translated into a marketable product. Like the research seminars, these meetings are accompanied, analysed and evaluated by the associates of the sub-projects "Analysing Learning Processes" and "Analysing Innovation Processes".

These two social science sub-projects are responsible for carrying out the analyses and the application of creativity techniques, including conception, testing, implementation and evaluation. Both projects are in close exchange about the methodological approach and the survey results. The sub-project of the Institute of Vocational Education and Adult Education focuses more on knowledge transfer in interactive learning processes, while the project of the Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography deals with knowledge transfer in interactive innovation processes.    

COOPERATION

The interdisciplinary research association is made up of the cooperation of four different institutes of Leibniz University Hannover, including the Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography. The Institute for Risk and Reliability and the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformatics are involved as representatives from engineering. The social sciences are represented by the Institute of Vocational Education and Adult Education. The Tongji University in Shanghai is involved with several institutes as well.

Tongji University Shanghai

CONTACT

K. Florian Schneider, M. Sc.
Address
Schneiderberg 50
30167 Hannover
Building
Room
222
K. Florian Schneider, M. Sc.
Address
Schneiderberg 50
30167 Hannover
Building
Room
222