Concept of the CEEPUS-Network
After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 the taking up of broken relations between Austria and its surrounding neighours became a new and exiting reality. Cultural relations which had been existing for almost a millennium had been interrupted for more than 40 years and could now be tied together cautiously with the aim of getting to know each other and to learn from each other.
In the light of the political, cultural and economical changes necessary for the "New democracies" in Central Europe, Network A-30 wants to contribute to those developments by giving students and university teachers the opportunity in getting to know the particular situation at each others universities and to arrive at a deeper understanding by STUDYING the MENTALITIES, CULTURAL RULES and PRAGMATIC FEATURE GUIDING COMMUNICATION in the PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES of the network.
The building of a peaceful and democratic Europe requires that prejudices and lack of information are actively fought against. In this respect it is important that business relations and joint ventures work well and to the advantage of all partners. The Network A-30 wants to contribute to that by doing research in INTERCULTURAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION in CENTRAL EUROPE as there are very little data available about how differences in mentalities in the countries of Central Europe are influencing the success of joint business activities.
It seems however that there is a number of communication rules shared by the network countries making them a kind of "Speech bundle" which cuts across language borders. It is one of the tasks of the research programme to find out whether this hypothesis has some empirical grounding.
Many new nations which constituted themselves after 1989 have considerable problems in finding a new identity and collective self assurance. Quite often there is a strong move towards considering the national language as the main or even the sole source of identity and by that causing considerable problems with linguistic and ethnic minorities. Among other objectives the NETWORK A-30 wants to draw attention to the particular situation of Austria as one of several German speaking countries. The German language there appears as Austrian German and it is not the sole source of identity as the German language is shared with other countries. How this situation is managed can serve as model for the IDENTITY BUILDING in Eastern Europe.
For students of German studying in one of the countries in the East of Austria, Austrian German usually is the first variety of German they come in contact with. It is important to understand that GERMAN is PLURICENTRIC LANGUAGE and Austrian German is not some kind of "dialect" but a national variety of German. The Network therefore wants to contribute to an improvement of the hitherto rather poor image of Austrian German and to more TOLERANCE TOWARDS LANGUAGE VARIATION in and between languages.
The network also wants to contribute to a LOWERING of the ASYMMETRY in LANGUAGE SKILLS. It is a fact that Austrians usally don't speak the languages of the neighbouring countries whereas many speakers in those countries usually have a good knowledge of German. It is our intention to organize a summer school for the learning of Easter European languages.
Geert Hofstede (1984): Culture's Consequences. International Differences in Work-Related Values.
Geert Hofstede (1991): Cultures and Organizations. Software of the Mind. Intercultural Cooperation and its Importance for Survival.
Michael Clyne (1994): Intercultural Communication at Work.
Leslie Bodi (1995): Traditionen des Österreichischen Deutsch.