Adapting an American-based Simulation to a Hong Kong Classroom

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)22_Publication in policy or professional journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-40
Journal / PublicationBusiness Communication Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000


Case studies tend to embed the language and values of the culture in which they are created. To use an American-based behavioural simulation, Looking Glass Inc., in Hong Kong, we needed to adapt it to the students' language environment and proficiency, their culturally derived behaviours, and their understanding of the context of American business. In Hong Kong, the norms prescribing language use are complex and contradictory; English is a major business, government, and legal language, but Cantonese and sometimes Mandarin have a continuing presence, especially in oral communication. The English in the simulation, however, reflect ing the authors' emphasis on realism, included slang and idiomatic expressions that were confusing even to students otherwise fluent in the language, and thus we had to modify materials to aid comprehension. We also had to adjust our administra tion of the materials to account for cultural differences between the individualistic and low power distance dimensions of the American scene represented in the sim ulation and the collectivistic and high power distance environment our students found more comfortable. Our strategy in adapting the simulation was to stimulate participants in Looking Glass Inc. to act authentically in their roles, negate reac tive and promote proactive behaviour at all four organisational levels, and encour age the thoughtful and complete analysis of the simulation, not something that came naturally. Finally, we had to make explicit several elements of American business assumed by the authors but not known to the students, including Ameri can geography and transportation systems, laws and administrative bodies, and race and gender issues. © 2000, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

Research Area(s)

  • American business systems, Case studies, intercultural communication, simulations