Diversity Icebreaker CSR project in the Middle East
Since 2011, Bjørn Z. Ekelund (Human Factors AS, Norway) and Lilach Sagiv (Hebrew University, Israel) have studied application of the Diversity Icebreaker at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It is a part of a larger project aimed at documenting that the DI workshops has similar effects in the communities in the Middle East, as they have in Norway and other regions. Furthermore, plans have been made for training consultants and facilitators in three conflict resolution milieus in Israel and one in Palestine. One of the objectives of this action would be to evaluate the potential, added value of the Diversity Icebreaker in supporting conflict resolution processes. The project is also related to the International Organizations Network (ION: http://www.ion-network.net/home).
Human Factors AS has defined its contribution in the project as a CSR activity for the years 2011 – 2012 with a budged of approximately NOK 400 thousand, of which 20% is financed externally via the SkatteFUNN scheme by the Research Council of Norway.
As a part of this project 26 DI seminars have been conducted at the Hebrew University for a total of approx. 650 participants, in the years 2011-12. The participants were students at the University, whereof about 10% were of Arabic background, 20% were immigrant Jews, and 70% were Jews born and raised in Israel. Simultaneously, a systematic validation and evaluation of the DI in relation to other psychological concepts, was conducted.
The research continues into 2013 – so far two-thirds of the collected material has been analysed and some significant results has been observed pointing to that a DI seminar:
- builds trust;
- creates positive affect and reduces negative emotions;
- enhances creativity;
- enhances awareness of oneself in connection with others;
- and gives equally good results regardless of whether the consultant is a first-time user, conducting the seminar in Hebrew or an experienced, international user using English.
The results also indicate that:
- The DI categories of Red, Blue and Green yielded a similar relation pattern to the personality traits (NEO-PI-R) in Israel, as they had had in Norway.
- There seems to be a relation between the DI categories and personal values (Schwartz).
This allows assuming that both values and personality influence a person’s preferences for Red, Blue or Green significantly
Additionally, Bjørn Z. Ekelund conducted a DI seminar for approx. 100 Palestinian participants in Ramallah, West Bank in 2012; and has experienced similar results (insight and humour we are familiar with in Norway). However, no written account of that seminar has been procured.
THEORY and MODEL development
As aforementioned, the project’s objective was to document whether the Diversity Icebreaker would have similar effects in the Middle East as it was observed in the other parts of the world. In the learning processes with the Hebrew University, it emerged a shared understanding that DI in this context could be best described as trust-buildingintervention – and thereby using this (quickly established) trust in order to enter into good dialogs about conflict-filled issues. A model illustrating how the trust is developed in the DI-seminar was created based on the first evaluations of the results. The model was tested out in a written evaluation conducted within a conflict resolution process in Norway. The model has also been presented later in academic contexts (e.g. on the ION conference in Heilbronn, 2012). Furthermore, the model will be used as a starting point for the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the abovementioned conflict resolution processes.
PLATFORM FOR FUTURE WORK
The project continues also this year, both in terms of research and practical application: In august 2013 Bjørn Z. Ekelund applied the Diversity Icebreaker in a group of 60 teachers from Israel, Palestine and Jordan – teachers that in the next two years shall facilitate a non-violent conflict resolution in nine different schools and their local communities using tools like DI. The project was organised by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), together with local conflict resolution partners from each of the countries. Another trip to the Hebrew University is planned for the November 2013.
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