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Towards Reciprocal Partnerships in the Cross-cultural Mentoring Process

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Title: Towards Reciprocal Partnerships in the Cross-cultural Mentoring Process
Author(s): Shin, Shania (Sun Won)
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Behavioural Sciences
Discipline: Adult education
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2014
1. Objectives This research seeks to uncover the latent potential in mentoring relationships to move towards a reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnership in cross-cultural contexts. While the prevailing concept of mentoring remains vague and limited to one-way knowledge transmission in existing literature on mentoring. Cultural Historical Activity Theory was employed in this study to shed light on the mentorship process as a transformative activity towards building reciprocal partnerships. For that purpose, the trajectory of mentorship discourse was scrutinized using various typologies of questions, typologies of shaping meaningful targets and within the framework of an interactive activity system. The three research questions posed in this study are 1) How different types of question is used in the direction of dynamic discourse in different mentoring processes, 2) How the meaningful and shared targets are formed and shifted in the reciprocal mentorship processes, and 3) The cross-cultural context is recognized and employed when the dyad shapes the meaningful targets in the mentorship processes. 2. Methods In this study, three different mentor-mentee dyads were selected among 28 dyads representing 21 nations; these dyads had been participating in a pilot mentorship program organized by the Helsinki Education and Research Area (HERA) from September 2012 to April 2013. Diversity in terms of mentor and mentee's educational, occupational and cultural context was taken into account as a core criterion of the selection process. The successive meetings of the three dyads were video-taped and transcribed for the purpose of analyzing and comparing the three trajectories in the different mentorship processes. In order to answer the three research questions, the discourse of the three selected dyads was scrutinized and reconceptualized using different approaches such as typology of questions, the lapse of time, the different types of meaningful targets as well as the perspective of activity theory. At the same time, the researcher's qualitative analysis and interpretation were complemented with quantitative analysis based on predetermined criteria and triangulation methods. 3. Results and conclusions This study finds that the function of questions in the mentorship process to be a meaningful indicator promoting reciprocal discourse. Second, the trajectory of shaping meaningful targets in the actual mentorship process was reconceptualized by correlating questions to the potential of mutually beneficial mentorship. Last, the modeling structure of an activity system in mentorship was identified as a novel approach to understand and mobilize resources surrounding the practitioners. These findings demonstrate cross-cultural mentorship to potentially lead to a reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnership. In the mentorship process.

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