Wednesday, November 4, 2009
PDI and Outliers
Although the title of chapter seven, “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes” appears disengaged from the previous ones, as Malcolm Gladwell begins to narrate the activities of a tragic Korean Air flight, readers get a sense of how the interactions between pilots and co-pilots relates to the larger discussion of cultural legacies. Gladwell posits that some airplane crashes can be linked to the modes of communication, and lack thereof, among the officers within the cockpit.
In addition to pointing out that airplane crashes are the result of a combination of several factors, Gladwell identifies Geert Hofstede’s concept “Power Distance Index" (PDI) – a measuring system “concerned with attitudes toward hierarchy, specifically with how much a particular culture values and respects authority” – as a crucial issue for understanding why, for example, pilots from some nations may have been at a cultural disadvantage for effective and essential communication in an airplane cockpit.
For those us concerned with academic failures and not only airplane crashes, perhaps we should take a closer look at communication problems and PDI in our immediate context. What is one important way that PDI or a distinct mode of communication comes into play positively or adversely concerning how students here at SIUE interact with professors or the university in general? What makes the issue you address so important to academic success of failure?