Power Distance Company
What is it? An activity that involves participant interaction based on assigned power and status differences.
What materials do you need? Playing cards (one card per participant) Why do you do it? The perceived power and status of ourselves and those around us affect our interactions on multiple levels: conversation topics, breadth and depth of conversations, communication initiation behaviors, nonverbal behaviors, comfort levels, uncertainty avoidance behaviors, and interaction satisfaction levels. We learn different rules about power and status, and their roles in interaction situations, from our cultural backgrounds. This activity prompts participants to consider the roles of power and status in interaction and to critically analyze the communicative impact of perceived power and status differences. This is a simple activity to do but can often engage participants on intense levels. It is a useful activity to use when introducing power distance as a cultural dimension.
What is the process? All participants should come to an open space, where there is enough space to move about comfortably. Tell the participants that they are all employees of a particular company (you can adapt this context to fit your needs) and that they are all attending the "end of the year" company picnic to celebrate their successful business year. You may have the group come up with the type of company they'd like to be (there is lots of room for creativity here!) and with a company name. Inform them that they will have the opportunity to walk around and chat with their fellow employees about company news or whatever else they'd like to talk out - this is a social gathering after all! Prior to their conversations, however, each employee will draw a card, indicating the person's status in the company. Once drawn, participants should NOT LOOK at their own cards, but rather hold them facing out on their foreheads. This allows everyone else to see the person's card...
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