Culture From a Value Systems Perspective: A Study of CATCH, an Interdisciplinary Research Project in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Norway

Culture From a Value Systems Perspective: A Study of CATCH, an Interdisciplinary Research Project in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Norway

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro, Geir Sogn-Grundvåg
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0214-3.ch009
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International interdisciplinary projects (IDR) are a microcosm of multicultural landscapes. Through a culture theories perspective, in particular, viewing culture as a system of explicitly and implicitly coded values, this chapter conveys the processes and results of a study that investigates and uncovers the management strategies of an IDR project, CATCH. The study of culture from a value systems approach enables a more subtle and nuanced approach to the analysis and framing of cultural heterogeneity in the context of an IDR project, beyond the often dichotomous, cultural dimensions construct. Due to the multiple actors in an IDR project, the example of CATCH illustrates a more nuanced view of cultural filters that arise from each academic discipline. Using the culture as value systems perspective, this chapter shows how multicultural landscapes and different resulting knowledges can be leveraged towards an integrated worldview when solving challenges in a globalized world with limited resources.
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This chapter addresses the call in this book for new (post-cultural dimensions) perspectives in culture theories. It highlights thematically, the complexity and importance of human relations when working across cultures in the context of Industry 4.0. The example of an interdisciplinary research (IDR) project is used in this chapter, to illustrate how co-dependent relationships are navigated and managed towards a common project goal. An IDR project, in particular one that has university-industry collaborators, is a cognitive, sometimes geophysical spatial intersection of actors and stakeholders who have come together for the purpose of solving a real-world challenge. The processes are necessarily heterogeneous landscapes of cultural filters and constructs of its various actors (individual and institutional). We use an IDR project context as an example of talking about culture as a system of values because an IDR project can be viewed as a multi-cultural microcosm of its own. It offers a unique opportunity to investigate and model a theory of culture that is beyond the current dominant cultural dimensions construct that is usually bounded by a national cultures approach. We aim to illustrate in this chapter, how groups of individuals, each in their own capacity of forefront knowledge and expertise in their field and industry sector, leverage upon the inherently heterogeneous cultural fabric of the IDR project in order to facilitate collaborative effort and action towards a common goal. This chapter views cultural values from a more organic perspective, that of nonlinear dynamics and complexity theory (Capra, 1985; Capra & Luigi, 2014).

Culture as ‘System’

Systems thinking began in the 1960s in the field of power engineering when technology was not thought as any single machine but systems, and an assemblage of components originating in heterogeneous technologies (von Bertalanffy, 1968). These ideas took an organic, more ecological turn during the 1980s when applied to the study of emerging ecological paradigms in the fields of biology, behavioural and social sciences.

Advances in technologies shapes our socio-cultural ecological systems, influencing how we live and socialise with each other. The first aspect of systems thinking concerns the relationship between the part and the whole. We are individuals as human beings, yet we belong to various circles (or wholes) of activities and acquaintances in our lives. Language, which is part of human culture and communication for example, is one means of how we create meaning in the different types of activities in which we engage:

Individuals are organized in many potentially different ways in a population, by many different (and cross-cutting) criteria… The more complex and differentiated the social system, the more potential groups and institutions there are. And because each group of institution places individuals in different experiential worlds, and because culture derives in part from this experience, each of these groups and institutions can be a potential container for culture. Thus no population can be adequately characterised as a single culture or by a single cultural descriptor. (Avruch, 1998, p. 17-18)

What can be noted in the various conceptualizations of culture by culture theorists through the decades of work, is how culture can be perceived human socio-ecological system. Whether conceptualising culture as a system of meaning-making (Spencer-Oatey, 2008), or core traditions with attached values (Kroeber & Kluckhohn, 1952) or a type of ‘mental programming’ that calls to mind culture as ‘system’ (Hofstede, 1991), what is fundamental to all descriptions is how culture is a living entity that evolves with the people who create and perpetuate its form in the context of use.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Systems Theory: Systems theory is an interdisciplinary theory about the nature of complex systems in nature, society, and science. It is a framework by which one can use to study, investigate and describe any group of objects that work in collaboration towards a common purpose/goal. Systems theory can be applied to both organic as well as inorganic (informational artifact for example) organizations. The science of systems began with Ludvig von Bertalanffy’s 1968 General System Theory (GST).

Fish: The term ‘fish’ is used in accordance to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO 2018 ) definition referring to fish, crustaceans, mollusks and other aquatic animals. The term excludes aquatic mammals, reptiles, seaweeds and other aquatic plants. The term ‘fish’ is also used in synonymous exchange with the term ‘seafood’.

Integral Theory: Integral theory can be seen as a form of systems theory. Its ideation founder is Ken Wilber, an American transpersonal psychologist, who studied and formulated a framework for a “theory of everything”, the living “totality of matter, body, mind, soul and spirit”. Integral theory draws from a number of different scientific paradigms on human-cognitive development, putting them together in a single framework whose applications are useful due to its breadth of scope and capacity to accommodate a multitude of contexts.

Cultural Dimensions Construct: The cultural dimensions construct of culture theory is often reflected in applications of Hofstede’s national culture dimensions ( Peterson & Hofstede, 2003 ; Smith, Dugan, & Trompenaars, 1996 ).

Interdisciplinary Research Project (IDR): For the purposes of this chapter, the term IDR is used to refer to both academic interdisciplinary research as well as industry-university research collaboration.

Holon: Used in accordance to Koestler (1967) , referring to an entity that is simultaneously a whole and a part.

CATCH: CATCH is a 4-year (2014-2018) interdisciplinary research project set within the context of the fisheries and aquaculture research and business sector in Norway. CATCH, an applied sciences industry-university collaboration towards higher quality yield of capture-based aquaculture for cod.

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