Tag Archive | Cross-cultural

Culture & Service Design

Service design is allegedly a human-centered method for developing new services. A great effort is made for capturing users’ needs, mental models, experiences, desired outcomes… —you name it! Although this is done specifically borrowing techniques from ethnography, there’s barely no mention to cultural differences! With increasingly global companies, rising migration rates or whole sectors —such as tourism— based on making customers experiencing other countries, isn’t it time to deeply embed cross-cultural issues in service design?

My personal journey

Yes! That was my initial motivation to enroll the Cross-cultural issues in service development course. I couldn’t believe such an amazing topic was included in our Service Innovation and Design MBA.

Somehow, I’ve always been aware and curious about cultures. I come from a region shared by two, right on the border of a third one. I’ve travelled to foreign countries on my own since I was twelve. I lived abroad for some years. I’ve been living for the past thirteen in yet another culture and language. And I’m a trained translator with some five years of experience in this profession. Plus, lately I’ve signed on commuting to —a very exotic to me— Finland once a month for studying…

Nevertheless, my view was very narrow. I came to the class just thinking: “research the culture, pass the knowledge to the rest of the design team and build a great service. That’s it!”.

My journey in cross-cultural issues course

My journey during the cross-cultural issues course

Of course, that wasn’t just it. And I had to learn much more. Gain a broader view. Discover there’re theoretical frameworks that help you understand cultures. Suffer some cross-cultural issues myself while doing the cross-cultural assignments with a multi-cultural team… And only then, by the end of our term, with the help of my Chinese, Norwegian and Sudanese classmates, while attempting to solve a service challenge for the Finnish tax agency involving Estonian, Russian and Polish construction workers… —OK, this sounds totally like a joke by now— then I started to grasp how and when can you involve culture in service design!

But let’s start with the view broadening!

What do you mean by culture, anyway?

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Cross-cultural issues in Service Development

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Are you interested in different cultures, curios and want to get a deeper understanding of how you can tackle cross-cultural issues within service development? Laurea offers an elective course within this topic, which can be integrated in your MBA in Service Innovation and Design, and I highly recommend it!

The course consists of a group of students small enough to discuss, without the greatness of feeling intimidated. It also brings together people from different backgrounds, both students from different classes and students from different countries from all over the world. This creates a good arena to discuss and get real insight and case examples, which can vary a lot from where you come from.

The aim of this course is described as: “deeply understanding preferences and cultural needs, when offering services to customers and end-users from different cultures. Services are often offered globally, and this kind of understanding is described as “prerequisite” for effective Service Design”. In order to learn this, the study offers a theoretical basis of cultural perspectives, which is taught through assignments (individual and in groups), group discussions and lectures, a lot of them being guest lectures. We even had the opportunity to work on a real case for TAX Finland, which I found very motivating!

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