SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  OSD10-HS7 (OSD)
Title:  Analytical Tools for Local Economic Analysis
Research & Technical Areas:  Information Systems, Human Systems

Acquisition Program:  
  Objective:  The objective of this topic is to increase cross-cultural communication by providing collaboration and negotiation tools that are easy to use regardless of cultural, social or educational background.
  Description:  Cross-cultural communication in highly regionalized locations can be tremendously challenging [1]. This situation is often exacerbated when warfighters are forced to speed the process in order to accomplish immediate or pressing goals. This is because in order to establish effective cross-cultural communication, a common reference framework is need to establish trust, develop working relationships and share concepts and ideas. Creatinbg this framework is challenging since different cultural groups differ in how they engage in organizational collaboration and teamwork [2]. Common beliefs about teamwork emphasize competencies that promote interactions that are based on Western culture [3], yet increasingly, military regions of interest include those containing cultures that significantly differ from Western ideals. Approaches based on one’s own cultural ideals are often inconsistent with communication styles of foreign populations [2] and can lead to misunderstanding, with profound negative impact to mission success. Currently, military personnel are not extensively trained in cross-cultural collaboration or trust building and are forced to accomplish these tasks through trial and error, often resulting in mis-communication and trust erosion. In fact, at most levels of leadership most cultural communication and negotiations are conducted by military commanders with only basic cultural training [4]. These leaders enter into these communications equipped with only their personal experiences and beliefs, resulting in tremendous variability in communication success. The US military needs to not only effectively communicate with the culture in which the military operation is taking place, but also with other organizations and cultures engaged in stability, security, transition and reconstruction efforts. Communication problems between these groups may intensify problems associated with the mission [4]. Tools and techniques that are culture-neutral must be incorporated into the dialogue in order to increase communication between the military and foreign populations. Solving the cross-cultural communication challenge entails much more than simply translating languages. The focus of this topic is on developing technologies that facilitate the development of common reference frameworks, enabling the rapid establishment of trust, and the quick creation of effective working relationships – even in the absence of direct ability to translate each other’s specific languages. These tools would provide an ‘electronic sandbox’ capability that would allow representatives from two different cultures to quickly establish common reference points using interactive techniques to create shared experiences that accelerate the development of trust, provide the tools for a common dialogue and enable effective working relationships. These devices should be portable, extensible and ruggedized for use under typical combat conditions.

  PHASE I: Prepare a requirements specification for collaboration and negotiation tools to accelerate the development of cross-cultural communication. The performer will propose a system specifications and a preliminary design/architecture that at a minimum: a) defines cultural reference points that enable effective establishment of cross cultural communication; b) support an easy to use interface to allow individual users to craft, design and/or sketch out specific experiences; c) graphically represent these experiences pull in unfiltered data at the source. A final report will be generated, including plans for Phase II, such as: key component technological milestones, and plans for at least one operational test and evaluation. Phase 1 should also include the processing and submission of all required human subjects use protocols if required for Phase II.
  PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate technologies for to increasing cross-cultural communication by providing collaboration and negotiation tools that are easy to use regardless of cultural, social or educational background, based on the preliminary design from Phase I. All appropriate testing will be performed, and a critical design review will be performed to finalize the prototype specifications. Phase II deliverables will include: (1) a working prototype of the technology (2) specification for its development, and (3) test data on its performance collected using one or more operational systems.

  PHASE III: This technology will have broad applications in military as well as commercial settings. Military applications of this technology include enabling military personnel at all levels of command to quickly establish cross cultural communication to improve likelihood of mission success. Similarly, commercial applications for this capability include domains where personnel with different social – cultural backgrounds must continually interact in dynamic situations where the probability of miscommunication is high and the risk and consequences, great and the need for up to the minute data sets remains unmet.

  References:  [1] Critical Studies (1998). Eds. Heisey, RD, & Gong, W. ISBN: 90-420-0454-1; Editions Rodopi B.V., Amsterdam – Atlanta GA [2] Klein, HA, & McHugh, AP. (2005). National differences in teamwork in Organizational simulation. Eds. Rouse W, and Boff, KR. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ pp 229-252. [3] Sims, DE, Salas, E & Burke, CS. (2003). Is there a “big five” in teamwork? Paper presented at the 19th Annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. University of Central Florida. [4] Zolin, R. (2002). Swift trust in Hastily Formed Networks. Naval Postgraduate School Monterey CA Faculty Council. Report # A112484; available at:

Keywords:  Social, Cultural, Transition, Reconstruction, Civilian, Cross Cultural Communication

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