Connecting Arab and European Cultures – what is the context? Management education and learning has become an international affair since managers no longer comfortably work in their home cultures but must also be well acquainted with other cultures due to the diversity of the current working environments (Brookes, 2003a:50)…
Generally, Brookes (2003b:121) asserts that expatriate learning is a natural fit under experiential learning since expatriates usually learn to manage across cultures with no formal training or skills in cross-cultural education. In essence, the success of cross-cultural learning is based on experience and thus below follows the details of experiential learning theory (ELT). Literature Review Experiential Learning Theory Process and Cycle This is regarded as one of the most omnipresent theories that explain how managers learn from experience. According to Ye’or (2005), experiential learning takes into account the whole learning process of humans with experience forming the base of the four models of learning: i. Feeling ii. Reflecting iii. Thinking iv. Acting Ye’or (2005) affirms that these four models form a 4-phase learning cycle that describes concrete experience (CE) as the base for observation and reflection (RO) where there is a simulation of the experience into abstract conceptualization (AC). The experience then forms into active experimentation (AE) with the world thus completing the cycle while creating a new cycle to assist in the creation of new CE experiences (Byram, 2008). The theory makes significant distinctions between learning skills, learning abilities, adaptive flexibility and learning style (Mainemelis, Boyatzis, & Kolb, 2002:9). Learning Abilities Experiential learning is associated with the whole process of adapting to the world. Effective learners must engage in four learning abilities both associated with CE, AC, RO, and AE (Carr, 2005:26). CE – here, one need to be involved in experiences and subjectively deal with immediate individual conditions with emphasis on ability to practice the use of feelings, intuitive understanding and being sensitive towards the values and emotions of other people. AC – employs logic, ideas and concepts, which is contrast to CE. The abilities required for AC include thinking, analyzing and coming up with relevant theories to address given situations. Individuals with quality AC abilities are usually good in systematic planning, manipulation of abstract symbols, and the use of quantitative analysis. RO – abilities associated with RO require the individual to understand the meaning of situations and views by cautiously watching and listening. According to Byram (2006), it involves the use of reflective understanding in order to find out how and why certain things happen. Those strong in RO abilities are successful in uncovering the meaning of situations and ideas, analyzing situations from different angles while at the same time appreciating the contributions of others. AE – involves influencing of people actively to change situations. It emphasizes the practical application of the case that works. Those with suitable AE abilities are often ready to take risks and take the accountability for completion of the tasks. Learning Styles This is the preference of the individual to use two sets of learning abilities over the other (Kayes, 2002:141). RO and CE are preferred by diverging learning style whereas AE and AC go with converging style. On the other hand, the assimilating style works well with AC and RO while AE and CE go with ...
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