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Failure and saving face in the Asian Culture

  1. Mar 1, 2005 #1

    Integral

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    I have been told that one reason that Asians are not as quick to develop new technology is due to the loss of face that accompanies a failure in their culture. So they are reluctant to explore new avenues which have an uncertain outcome. Failure is not acceptable.

    In the western culture while failure is not a optimal outcome it is recognized that if you have never failed at an endeavor you have never really pushed your limits.

    Is there any validity to this argument?
     
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  3. Mar 2, 2005 #2

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    "Face" isn't just an eastern trait; westerners save face regarding failure to understand easterners by leaning on stereotypes, such as face saving.

    You'll run into a variety of explanations --- from high tech toys being reserved for imperial amusement through conservation of tradition (no Samurai is gonna be caught packing a .45) to population growth keeping resources so pinched that there was no possibility of developing technologies as they were discovered --- this also shows up as the failure to develop a banking and investment capital system argument.

    You want a couple references? This stuff is dry, dry, dry --- I've got a project going that "makes" me read it, but I got my doubts it'll keep anyone interested for explanations of a single-shot question regarding "face."
     
  4. Mar 2, 2005 #3

    Integral

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    The reason I posted to this question is to deal with the stereotype. This a topic at my work place currently as we have a number of "guests" from Singapore whom we are training on our processes and equipment. Clearly there is a cultural difference. The real question lies in how best to work with our Singapore brethren to optimize the training experience for them and provide us with some in sight into their culture.

    I would very much like to separate stereotype from cultural trait. Are there accurate "stereotypes" that actually describe facets of a culture?

    I would very much like to involve our Asian members in this discussion. I am seeking input, I will not argue for the claim in the original post, it is something I was told by a coworker I respect, I want more input.
     
  5. Mar 2, 2005 #4

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    Something I've noticed in similar situations is that there is a cultural tendency to avoid action/feedback in instructional settings that could even vaguely be construed as insulting or embarassing to the instructor --- you'll get polite nods when you conclude or pause with "Everyone with me so far?" Breaking that particular ice sheet, convincing them that it's not an insult to indicate that your explanation hasn't made things perfectly clear is tough. Probably has more to do with the "traditional" respect for education and teaching ('nother stereotypical generalization?).
     
  6. Mar 19, 2005 #5
    You may find that they are highly motivated to succeed and willing to work extremely hard. If so, make use of this.
     
  7. May 6, 2005 #6
    How did the training sessions go then? Did you work them hard? Give them homework?
     
  8. May 6, 2005 #7
    As a korean, i think there is some truth to that statement, more than half.

    I think asians are good at 'refining' current technologies, such as making products which have originally invented from USA/Germany or whatever more fashionable/Ergonomically more desirable.

    However, they *do* lack the 'motivation' to develop existing technologies. It is face-saving on the whole hand, a 'all or nothing' situation.

    I think it is a old tradition that they should strive to get rid of.
     
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