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Researching Workplace Issues and Diversity in a Foreign Country

Preparing for Your Research Project


Many of you have experienced working side by side with people that are different from you, be it of a different race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, religion, class, ethnicity, educational background, body size, etc. At a base in Germany, Okinawa or in a village in Iraq or Afghanistan, you had to deal with others that did not always behave like you or more likely did not understand you. In order for you to get a taste of what social scientists such as anthropologists, sociologists, geographers, linguists etc. do when they encounter that in their research, you are going to prepare for that in a research project of your own.

Now that you have a country selected. You need to learn more about your country not because you are going there for a visit. No, you have to imagine you are going to work there in a job that you'd like to do in a foreign setting. You could imagine yourself perhaps working in a shipyard, in a hospital, as a manager in a corporation, in a production department of a factory, as a construction engineer, an agriculturalist, biologist, or an ICT specialist, etc. You may compare the workplace of the selected country to the American Workplace

The purpose of this research is for you to discover what is happening in the workplace in your selected country. What are the concerns and issues that employers as well as employees encounter? Is there diversity in the workplace? Might there be training on diversity available? What is the cultural setting? What are working conditions like? What benefits are offered to employees? Does the culture influence ethical behavior? What are some of the basic laws in the Human Resource Area there? How different or how similar are they compared to the USA? For example, is the workweek 40 hours and one needs to be paid for overtime? Are rules and regulations strictly followed? Can you find descriptions on the working poor to compare with the same category in the USA? If you have a chance to interview someone from that country about the workplace, do so for one or two reports. You need to read, listen, and put yourself in situations where the "other" is of the dominant ethnic background in that country. You will need to figure out how the people you imagine to work with express themselves differently from you, handle situations in a way that works for them, but might not work for you here in the USA. Look for cultural similarities and differences.

Selecting a Country and Imagining a Work Scenario

After the first four weeks of reports and familiarizing yourself with your country, you may select a research topic for the remainder of the course if you so desire. I will give suggestions in general, but if you like to specialize in a certain area that is excellent. An example would be computerization in the workplace, or benefits in the workplace, or gender in the workplace, the poor and work, etc. Use the HPU virtual library's databases to look up articles on your country of choice that have cultural information. The emphasis of the articles in journals you choose to read should always be on your topic or in general on the work force and work place, its conditions, policies, emigration or immigration policies, income comparisons, conditions of poverty and the poor in the workplace, etc. Bucher should inspire you to choose topics that you like to explore. Every week that you report a bit of your research should add up in the end to the final paper in Week 7 on your country's people and workplace. Thus it should be clear now that the overall focus is on the workplace and all it may imply.

What do you need to be aware of when you are in a position to work side by side with someone in your country's work environment? How would you handle yourself? Be creative. Ideally, you will not need to do additional research for the final report. If you have done a little every week throughout the course, you only need to sit down and reflect on what you have learned from this course and imagine sharing with a co-worker about your experience in the selected country's workplace and compare that to what you learned about the American workplace. What are the points to be aware of in the diversity consciousness from the emic and etic perspective?

It is very likely that with the globalization of the workplace, you will encounter surprises in the future when you need to work with or perhaps manage people of a very different culture to your own. Through this project it is hoped that you are open to learn about other people's beliefs, values, and practices. What are the questions you need to ask and what do you need to do to work with people from other cultures, even here in the USA? Prepare yourself by taking an anthropological approach using web research. "Anthropology takes quite a different approach to culture. Most anthropologists would define culture as the shared set of (implicit and explicit) values, ideas, concepts, and rules of behavior that allow a social group to function and perpetuate itself. Rather than simply the presence or absence of a particular attribute, culture is understood as the dynamic and evolving socially constructed reality that exists in the minds of social group members. It is the ‘normative glue’ that allows group members to communicate and work effectively together" ( You might realize that you find comfort in your own work environment and decide that it is the best place, but at the same time you need to be cognizant and open to a changing workforce. It can happen regardless of where you are. People migrate more than ever before. Many work places in the USA have changed markedly over the last 20 years. Many types of jobs (industry) have ceased to exist, and its workers had to make choices to either move on and work elsewhere or learn completely new skills in order to be employed again in their home town surroundings. New skills are needed at a rapid rate in the USA. To be able to adapt to an ever changing environment is more valuable than money can buy.

You will be guided week by week in this research project with a suggested topic that you may want to follow, however as said before, you are also given the freedom to explore your own. My suggestions are suggestions or ideas only. Beyond the required peer review, please read each other’s reports to see similarities and differences between the cultures and environments you study. Your colleagues will benefit greatly it if you could react to each other's reports. Put questions to your co-students, and be curious about the workers and work places they describe.. Make comments if you can advise or know something about what they write. Be helpful.

My suggestions each week will be found in the attachment in the respective report in Bb’s Assignment description. Submitting Weekly Country Research Reports We will be using Canvas’ discussion forum for the reporting project. This allows for a broader pool of peer reviewers and augments sharing beyond your respective class section. The final report will be submitted both in Canvas and Bb.

For the FIRST Week the report should read as a narrative synopsis of the major points of your first investigation about your country. As introductory topics for the first week, for example, you may want to report on who the people are and what they are occupied with (industrial, agrarian), what to call them, geographic significant features, size of the population, language they speak, currency they use, show a map if possible where the country is located or which countries are bordering it, the climate, capital of the nation and form of government, predominant religion, what does it import and export, its staple food, and whatever else seems significant to understand its people and what they do. Provide statistics as much as possible and the source of your information. Some historical facts that seem to characterize the country might be included in the narrative. In addition supply us with a link to its major newspaper(s) in English and keep that in your Favorites for your own use.

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