Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cultural Competency in Technology Practice

The growth of biosocial medicinal approaches to care has prompted many in the allied health industries to rethink the importance of cultural identities in life outcomes. The Office of Minority Health stated that "Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations."

The parallels with technology industries and practices are considerable and demand greater attention.

We can apply the ideas of cultural competency in health into technology practice. The purpose of this entry is to develop some critical questions about how cultural competency may affect technology practice, consumption, production, and participation.
  1. What are the cultural and linguistic competencies that companies need to develop to better understand the cultural needs of how users interact with technology products? 
  2. What are the cultural and linguistic competencies that different technology users bring with them when they interact with technology? 
  3. What are the behaviors and attitudes cultural groups have about technology and technology practice?
  4. Will providing more targeted, cultural-based technology experiences to users mean higher user satisfaction, greater buy-in, greater use, and greater economic consumption?
  5. What differences do we see between culture groups' usages of technology, and how much of this difference can be attributed to cultural values and beliefs? 

Over the course of the next few months, I will explore these ideas in more detail, drawing examples from technology industries. The goal here is to examine how different cultures use technology, and how that usage is influenced by sociocultural and socioeconomic values/identities. 

Cultural identities play a huge part in life experiences. It is no stretch then to theorize that cultural identities play a role in technology. 

A surface Google search using the search terms "cultural competency and technology" elicited mainly health related content, which means we might have an interesting, previously unexplored, space.  Excellent.

It may be that the infusion of cultural competency in technology practice will enhance ROI for both producers and consumers.       

A quick and dirty primer for those interested in reading more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_competence

A succinct overview can also be found at the Office of Minority Health: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=11

National Center for Cultural Competency: http://nccc.georgetown.edu/

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