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Summary of evaluation results
of the SIETAR Europa Congress 2003 Budapest

The purpose of the evaluation of this year's SIETAR Europa Congress was to discern the effectiveness of the new format; obtain input for future SIETAR Congresses as well as collect suggestions from members vis-à-vis topics of interest. What follows is a summary of the analysis of completed evaluation sheets which were returned by participants who had experienced the entire Congress process. It was handed out to participants on the morning of the last day of the Congress.


Who participated in the SIETAR Europa Congress 2003?

According to the final registration list, there were a total of 128 congress participants. A total of 51 completed evaluation sheets were completed which reflects a return rate of 39.8%.

An informal polling of the chosen stakeholder groups and the participants' country of residence was made during the registration process. It is interesting to note that the results of the informal polling reflect similar trends as seen in the questionnaire results which follow.

The top three stakeholder groups present at the Congress (in numerical order) were:

1) trainer/consultant
2) business
3) educator/teacher

Government, NGOs and social workers were under-represented. This implies that planners of future SIETAR Congresses should work to identify representatives from these professional communities to become more actively involved with SIETAR and encourage them to attend its yearly Congress.

A majority of the respondents found the stakeholder categories appropriate to use as a basis for the activities of this year's Congress. However, many mentioned the challenge of having to select only one category since they were active in a number of areas.

The participants of the SIETAR Europa Congress 2003 equally represented both the new and younger members of SIETAR (1-2 years) as well as more senior members (3-5 years and over 5 years). This would imply that the questionnaire results could be interpreted to reflect the opinions of both of these facets of the SIETAR membership.

The majority of the participants were females. The majority of the participants were in the age categories of 30 - 40 and 40 - 50.

On overwhelming majority of the participants lived and worked in Western Europe, while the second largest group originated from Eastern Europe. A minority of participants represented countries from outside of Europe. These results imply that additional effort will be needed to attract a culturally more diverse audience for future SIETAR Congresses.

 

Congress Design

The design of the Congress utilized new learning environments as the basis to foster discussion and personal learning. Each of these learning environments was rated by the majority of congress participants as follows:

Introduction to process: Average to very good

Group discussions of 4 people: Very good to excellent

Group discussion of 6-8 people: Very good to excellent

I learned a lot when I had the chance to get to know the people I was working with (with their background context)

Report to the entire group: Poor to average

I always have difficulty with large group feedback, especially when there are many reports. Perhaps it is a necessary evil.

Report to the entire group poor. However the changed format assisted process

Open plenary discussions: Fair to very good

Open plenary discussion - it is always the same people giving their opinions

Scenarios: Average to excellent

Collaboration opportunities / Open Space: Very good to excellent

Group Moderation / Facilitators: Very good to excellent

A number of themes emerge when this feedback is looked upon as a whole and can provide food-for-thought for SIETAR and future Congress planning teams. The opportunity to discuss and work with colleagues in a small group format (up to 8 people) was highly rated by the participants. Exploring ways to integrate this kind of format into future SIETAR Congresses would provide a "value-added" to participants. On the other hand, the group discussion process was not as well received. Adjustments to the group reporting process were made during the Budapest Congress which improved the discussion process. However, new ways to moderate group and plenary discussions must be further explored in future Congresses. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to using scenarios as a way to explore issues. This would imply that the participants are open and interested in exploring new avenues to enhance informal learning in future Congresses. Last but not least, the collaboration opportunities / open space were highly rated. The number of working groups which evolved out of this process collaborate this result. Presentation of the on-going work of these groups as well as an exploration of ways to continue the process would be an appropriate follow-up for next year's Congress. Reports of the discussions from the Collaboration opportunities session of the Congress will be posted on SIETAR's web site.


Congress Theme

The goal of the Congress is to explore new learning strategies and environments with the participants of the SIETAR Europa Congress. The quality of the discussions during the following Congress sessions was rated for their usefulness to the participants' work in the cross-cultural area as follows:

  • Focus on learning experiences: Average to very good
  • Exploration of the past: Average to very good
    Exploration of current trends and link to own learning environments: Average to excellent
  • Exploration of envisioned future: Average to very good
  • Development of scenarios: Average to excellent
  • Presentation of scenarios: Average to excellent
  • Creation of desired futures: Average to very good
  • Collaboration opportunities: Very good to excellent
  • Presentation of collaborative plans: Average to very good


Effectiveness

The participants rated the Congress as a very good forum for participants to Make a collective experience and provide opportunities for them to Influence the process.


Expectation for the Congress

Hear content presentation Meet with colleagues/ networking Meet potential clients Experience new conference format Budapest location
11,9% 33,9% 5,9% 29,7% 18,6%

The results suggest that a significant reason for members to attend SIETAR Congresses congresses is to meet with colleagues and network. Ways to foster networking within the Congress are necessary to integrate within its structure.


Comparison of Budapest format with previous Congresses

A majority (71%) of the evaluation comments are positive about the new format which was tried out in Budapest. Some sample quotes are:

"Very engaging, very stimulating, worthwhile, small (4-8) groups right space"

"I was able to really meet with people, getting an understanding of where they are, that we share many common experiences / fears / joys. Excellent opportunity to rethink, to win trust and perhaps collaborate in the future. Not so academic as before and relevant to me / my business."

"Very good - good opportunity to get to know each other; interactive; no ‚lecturing-down'"

"Much better learning experience; also learning that not everybody is willing to dare to share!?"

"1) collaborative, 2) sharing, 3) inclusive, 4) personal"

"I really liked the interaction and the mixing of people from different backgrounds and interests. I hope that some element of this format can be kept in combination with more standard formats."

"Not this way, there should be more variation."

"I thoroughly enjoyed the format. Gained number and quality of contacts. Most in-depth thinking of "other". Found format inspiring & exhausting."

"It should be more balanced between quality (e.g. presentations) and participatory."

"Very good and important for a mixture format next year."

"Better. Many opportunities for exchange and real contact with others."

Learning Moments during the Budapest Congress
A majority of the comments about learning moments during the Congress stated that it occurred most often in a small group format (4 to 8 people).

"Small groups with specific interest group - by discussing details each one helped another"

"During personal talks while working in small groups."

This would imply that the use of small groups in the design of future Congress formats would be recommended.

In terms of group discussions the respondents preferred small group discussions (6-8 people) rather than plenum sessions. However when there are "in larger groups moments of recognition" a plenum group discussion was none-the-less considered insightful.

Informal settings were also mentioned as important for the learning process: "Having personal / professional talks to people during free time". This would imply that Congress planners should allow for sufficient time for talking in informal settings, i.e. Budapest had 30 minute breaks both in the morning and afternoon while 90 minutes were scheduled for lunch.


Feedback on Budapest Conference Format

Almost ¾ of respondents agreed that a participatory element within the Congress format should be included in future SIETAR Congresses.

Should a participatory conference format (similar to this year's Congress) be planned to follow-up on the issues discussed in this Congress?

Yes No Don't Know
71,1 % 22,2 % 6,7%


"Half of next year's congress should have this format amended (if there is no time, do it while those not interested do sightseeing) 1. Based on stakeholder groups immediately 2. More emphasis on present/future 3. no scenarios 4. "free moments" to visit with other stakeholder groups 5. Limited group discussions"

"Perhaps a combination of a key note speech and paticipatory format around this topic; would keep some form of open space."

"I like to have choices as it was before and not be forced to participate in a group when you do not feel like it. I want to determine what I want to learn and do."

"At the beginning or mid-conference."

"But with some lectures too."

"Missed freedom to choose things fitting my interest, goals, energy level, etc."

"A conference could be combined with both a participatory and workshop/presentation format."

"Half and half, I think. Half content, half participation and follow-up on this year's agenda."


The implications of these statements are that an integration of a participatory element in the design of future SIETAR Congresses is expected and desirable by participants.


Methods to communicate, support change and collaborative efforts

The participants were asked to identify their top three priorities for communicating the results of the discussions which were held during the Congress. The top three methods mentioned were:

  1. Establish a working group to communicate about results / link action groups (31.5%)
  2. Write a report on the Congress documenting who participated, the discussion which was held, what was decided and whom to contact to become involved in the on-going process (20.4%)
  3. Initiate regional meetings to explore potential planning efforts (15.7%)

Working groups did emerge as part of the session Collaboration opportunities / Opens pace session. An unedited transcript of the results of the Congress' discussion is being prepared courtesy of Monica Armour (monicati@interlog.com) and Susan Vonsild (smv@interlink.dk) and will be posted for reference by members on the SIETAR website. However ways to initiate regional meetings to explore potential local and / or cross-country planning efforts should be a topic of consideration by SIETAR country organizations as well as SIETAR Europa.

 

Suggested Topics for future SIETAR Congresses

A plethora of suggestions for Congress themes were listed in the evaluation responses ranging from theoretical issues to practical skills as well as reflecting upon the development of SIETAR as an organization:

Reflecting upon IC practice

Theory , Research, Strategy

  • IC Theory and practice
  • Research, cooperation
  • Learning opportunities in both methodologies and contents
  • More theoretical and practical links
  • Strategies and tools specified
  • Innovative methodologies / concept
  • Beyond Hofstede: How to put Hofstede in this time and future, looking forward
  • Survey our actual research in ICC

New Developments / trends

  • Relevant and new developments: How can help be organized to solve practical/workload problems
  • IC-Practice new trends
  • Up-coming trends
  • New trends
  • How do our clients' needs change (invite some HR people from business to describe their trends) Where is the trend going?
  • From global think to local act
  • Shift from national culture to microcosmic communities

Standards

  • Establishing certain standards of IC trainers - not to spoil our image
  • Standards for IC education / training
  • Qualification standards for ICM

Techniques / Tools

  • The use of games in IC training in different cultures
  • Experiential learning
  • Use of simulations
  • Train the trainer tools
  • New methods "dialogue"
  • Evaluation and self-assessment in IC education / training
  • Expand boundaries (approach, context, learning tools...)

Organizational Processes

  • Intercultural coaching / mediation
  • Intercultural organizational change - best practice
  • Network - human contacts in intercultural relations
  • Intercultural support vs training
  • Conflict management

Looking at topics from an IC perspective

  • Importance of Emotional Intelligence in IC
  • Life-long IC Learning
  • The role of IC field in the social / conflict resolution arena
  • Intercultural coaching of students
  • How to initiate the interculturalization of a technical institute
  • Virtual work groups
  • Religion
  • Language
  • How to integrate IC into language teaching
  • Immigration
  • Mobile workforce
  • Communicating and understanding identities
  • Feeling different
  • Arts (performing, visual, music)

IC Practice in Europe today

  • Adjustment to new IC climate in Europe
  • Inclusion of Eastern Europe
  • Country specific topics
  • East/West Europe
  • European integration process
  • European integration
  • Best practice in country - specific orientation


Minorities and IC

  • Minorities inclusion
  • Diversity management
  • Tools for dealing with minorities
  • Minorities with EU countries

About SIETAR and its development

  • political SIETAR?
  • Is SIETAR incorporating intercultural principles in the organization? i.e. Language
  • Real participation/representation in SIETAR work
  • Power / Privilege: Implications for intercultural work / SIETAR
  • Diversity within SIETAR (racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation)
  • How to raise funds for participation


Exploring new congress formats for SIETAR Congresses

  • Keep that format (interactive) and it will develop
  • Small group activities-Large group integration
  • Combination of new format to generate standards, learning etc.
  • Pre-conference contribution and on-line form activity
  • Sharing, mini-conferences, topic groups


About the planning and organization of the SIETAR Europa Congress Budapest 2003

How did the participants find out about this year's Congress? A number of methods were used:

  • Announcement and description in SIETAR's website
  • Through SIETAR country organizations
  • Via direct E-Mail contact
  • Through the use of personal telephone calls

The questionnaire results indicate that the top three methods to promote this year's Congress were the announcement and description on the web (28.3%) and direct e-mail contacts (28.3) followed by word-of-mouth / recommendations (20%).

How did the Congress participants rate the coordination of the Congress? The website information, pre-registration and on-site registration were given an overall rating of very good. There were, however, some comments about problems with the online registration process. The pre-conference workshop was also given a rating of very good. The post-conference workshop was cancelled for lack of registrants. Perhaps this is an indication that workshops should be offered prior to the beginning of the Congress, rather than post-conference. Last but not least, the meeting facilities and hotel were rated good to very good. Selected comments from the questionnaire can shed light on this slightly lower rating. While the use of technical equipment (video projections, microphones, flip charts and pin boards) was positively rated, however the poor acoustics were singled out as a poor feature of the meeting space. These comments confirm that a professional infrastructure (meeting facilities, technical equipment, refreshments etc.) is expected by the Congress participants. A number of comments expressed a disappointment that the hotel was situated so far from the city center, making an exploration of Budapest difficult. This is a significant feedback since almost 20% of the participants gave as a reason to participate this year's was to attend the Congress as well as to explore the city of Budapest. The events were received a rating of very good. Comments suggest that future Congress planners should continue to develop events with a strong tie between the Congress location and the evening activities. Moreover, participants would like to be able to experience various aspects of inter-cultural work away from the meeting facilities (off-site) during the Congress as well.

One participant summarized her positive experience by thanking the SIETAR Board for exploring new avenues to discuss inter-cultural issues through this year's Congress format:

Thanks to the board for your courage to do this wonderful Congress!
It was one of the best Congresses I have even been to!
Thanks a lot to all of you!

The Entheos Group and its dedicated facilitator / moderation team would like to echo these sentiments. It would like to thank both SIETAR as well as the hard-working Budapest-based Planning Team for making this year's SIETAR Europa Congress a great success as confirmed in the participants' feedback summarized in this report.

For comments or questions about the design of the SIETAR Europa Congress 2003 or the summary of the evaluation results, please contact the Entheos Group at info@entheosgroup.net or at 0049-89-74664440