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Avoiding misunderstandings: Research group analyses success factors of collaborations between Chinese and German partners

Avoiding misunderstandings: Research group analyses success factors of collaborations between Chinese and German partners

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Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony provides funding for interdisciplinary collaboration between LUH and Tongji University, Shanghai

Cultural obstacles can be a major problem in the context of projects conducted between Chinese and German partners. Chinese and German colleagues often handle innovation processes quite differently. Due to a lack of knowledge or strategies for coping with such cultural differences, misunderstandings frequently occur in collaborative projects. The new research collaboration TraKuLa (transcultural approaches to skills development and teaching) at Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) intends to analyse which factors lead to successful or unsuccessful outcomes in mutual knowledge transfer in the context of collaborative engineering projects in research and innovation conducted between German and Chinese partners.

How can the partners learn from each other in order to work together in a more successful way? Which new insights may be gained through transcultural collaboration? How are innovation processes handled in Germany and China? How can the capacity for collaboration of German partners be adapted in order to enable them to implement collaborations with partners outside of western cultural environments in an effective and efficient manner? In collaboration with colleagues from Tongji University (Shanghai), Professor Steffi Robak, Professor Monika Sester, Professor Ingo Liefner, Professor Michael Beer and their teams intend to learn more about the foundations of successful scientific collaborations with Chinese partners.

Existing findings that have not yet been analysed systematically indicate that many collaborations between German and Chinese partners in the field of science and innovation fail due to irreconcilable cultural differences. Such projects often face difficulties when it comes to managing learning and collaboration processes together and in an efficient manner. The collaborative project intends to gain a better understanding of the impact of these obstacles while exploring the potential of collaborations between Chinese and German partners. The researchers focus on understanding, bridging and utilising behavioural differences, particularly with regard to knowledge culture, motivation, prejudices, communication patterns and personal relationships. The project entitled "Success factors of mutual knowledge transfer in collaborative projects between Chinese and German partners: Joint skills development in the research and innovation phase" is in receipt of funding from the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony amounting to 635,300 euros. Initially, the project is scheduled to be completed by 2022.

TraKuLa consists of four sub-projects led by Professor Steffi Robak (Institute of Vocational Education and Adult Education), Professor Monika Sester (Institute of Cartography and Geoinformatics), Professor Ingo Liefner (Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography) and Professor Michael Beer (Institute of Risk and Reliability) in collaboration with partners from Tongji University (Shanghai). As a team, the researchers will determine the qualitative benefits of mutual knowledge transfer in collaborative research and innovation projects between Chinese and German partners. Moreover, they intend to find out how learning and innovation processes differ and which expectations guide the actions of different partners.

Since the project might be relevant for stakeholders in politics and the industry, the research collaboration intends to hold an online kick-off event open to members of the public. The event is scheduled to take place in spring 2021. Further information on the collaborative project as well as key dates can be found here: https://www.iwkg.uni-hannover.de/de/forschung/trakula/


Note to editors

For further information, please contact Florian Schneider M. Sc., Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography, Tel. +49 151 266 92533, Email schneider@wigeo.uni-hannover.de.