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Opinion - Harry C Triandis: Researchers and Practitioners

25 Jan 2019 10:01 PM | Brett Parry (Administrator)

Researchers try to find how the world ticks. Practitioners try to make the world tick better.

To find out how the world ticks researchers construct theoretical models, consisting of many variables. Then they spend much time operationalizing the variables testing their reliability and both their internal and external validity. Then they check if the models are supported by the data, which they collect in many cultures. They analyze the data both within and across cultures. When they find support for their theory they publish it. If they do not find support they modify the theory and try again.

Practitioners want to find support for interventions that make the world better.  They want both individuals and cultures to become more (1) healthy (both physically and mentally), (2) happy, (3) so they live a long time and (4) preserve the environment.  If the interventions have beneficial outcomes, they try to get relevant populations to use them. Wide popular acceptance of the interventions occurs only some of the time.

When each group looks at the work of the other they say “that is good but it does not have much direct relevance for what I do.” Thus they do not feel that necessarily they must attend the professional meetings of the other group. So often they create their own organizations, like the International Academy for Intercultural Research (IAIR) and SIETAR or the American Psychological Society (APS) and the American Psychological Association (APA). That is unfortunate because unified they command more resources than they do when they are separate. But large size also means large meetings, whereas small meetings have the advantage that one has more intimate talks with a few colleagues, rather than feeling lost in a sea of unknown people.

Separate or together is the major theme. Separation allows one to meet colleagues working on the same problem, but one misses the stimulation of an entirely different perspective. Togetherness means having more resources to do greater things. Large size organizations are more bureaucratic, and require people to do a lot of paperwork. Paperwork appears to be a waste of time to people who want to discover how the world ticks or how to make the world better.

Large groups have more difficulties communicating, cooperating and reaching consensus. Thus, there is a tendency to shift to smaller and smaller groups of like-minded specialists. 

The tendency toward separation is probably stronger than the tendency toward togetherness. Thus we need to accept that the two groups will remain separate. But we might benefit by increasing the exchange of ideas across the groups. This might be done by having the leadership of each group attend the meetings of the other group.  These leaders might identify events that might interest their own group, and then invite two or three presentations from the other group to one’s own group.

                                         Harry C. Triandis


  • 18 Feb 2019 3:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Comment sent in my Michael Tucker:

    Harry—well said and so true about out intercultural world. Togetherness was the original concept behind SIETAR International. Researchers would come together with educators and trainers to share, discuss and collaborate. Researchers would focus on what practitioners needed and practitioners would apply research results. Then researchers split off into IAIR. Sandy Fowler and I tried to bring research back into SIETAR USA by means of special sessions at conferences. More of this needs to be done by both IAIR and SIETAR USA
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