The framework of the project

EU-CAB is a project in the framework of the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education and co-funded by the EU. The project duration is from October 2018 to September 2021.

“EU-CAB” …

… is stemming from the full title of the project: Comparative Analyses of European Identities in Business and Every-Day Behaviour. We also like the notion of the “cab” transporting people throughout Europe, makings contacts and spreading their ideas and knowledge.

What is it all about?

The aim of the project is to find out whether and to what extent the return to national state positions in the economy and society in selected EU countries, which seems to be apparent latest since the summit of the refugee movement in 2015, reflects on identity and behaviour of the people in the states concerned. There is broad consensus on the “Couple Franco-Allemand” playing a decisive role in Europe. Starting point of the empirical research are therefore France and Germany. The project range is enlarged by Hungary, Finland, Poland, and Portugal. By this thought-out choice of countries, a broad range of countries is covered, both politically and geographically.

Who is participating?

The target group of the EU-CAB project are students coming from all the participating countries. They are enrolled in faculties such as business and economics, communication, languages, social and youth studies, and information technology.  

The overall objectives for the participants are: The students shall acquire a high level of competencies in working together in a pan-European team. They shall gain in-depth understanding and a solid knowledge base of other European countries and the functioning of Europe as a whole. They shall support each other while working in a foreign country and respect eventual differences in behaviour and culture. They shall strengthen their competencies to learn together, take decisions in unstructured situations, solve conflict in a mutually respectful work atmosphere and reach goals as a team.

The scientific staff of the partners involved in this project are working in internationally oriented study programmes at their respective universities.

How do we proceed concretely?

The EU-CAB project is based on a number of Intensive Study Programmes, taking place successively in all of the participating countries. Each country will be visited once by the group of participating students, so that the group is always set up by students coming from six different nationalities. The pan-European group as a whole will be instructed and supervised by trained staff of the respective host country, and, mostly, accompanied by teaching staff from the “visiting” universities.

The students will conduct empirical scientific studies in the area of social sciences. They will be thoroughly trained beforehand in the application of the scientific tools and methods chosen.They will collect data, which they analyse supported by the staff and share with other students by publishing their findings open source.

Students will work in the two fields of
a) structured observation of behaviour and
b) surveys in order to measure collective identities.

In order to collect data students will participate in business meetings, observe behaviour in every-day situations like in a restaurant or supermarket, they will observe behaviours and take notes systematically and based on scientific methods. In addition, they will motivate people to participate in surveys that serve as the database to describe and measure collective identities.

The participating research staff will supervise all steps of data collection, analyses and deduction of conclusions. The common study activities will be embedded in appropriate study courses (modules) that deal with different kinds of communication and social skills, such as intercultural communication, EU-matters, culture and history, social and methodological competences, or business language courses. The participation of the students involved will thus be acknowledged within the framework of the Bologna system and granted with ECTS points.

Which scientific methods do we use?

The methodologies selected are as follows:
a) To measure behaviours, qualitative and quantitative behaviour data will be used, applying the systematic observation method SYMLOG (Systematic Multiple Level Observation of Groups, Bales & Cohen, 1982).
b) To describe and compare identities throughout the participating countries self-concept data will be collected, as the scientific community widely agrees on the fact that “identity” and “self-concept” address the same phenomenon. The method to be applied is the Self-Concept Grid developed by Orlik (Orlik, P. (2006): Sprachspiele und Lebensformen, Lengerich; Orlik, P. (1979): Das Selbstkonzept als Bezugssystem sozialer Kognitionen, in: Zeitschrift für Sozialpsychologie, 10, 167-182), which is based on the grid-technique developed by Kelly (Kelly, G. A. (1955). The Psychology of Personal Constructs. New York).

The application of both methods can be learned fast, as has been proven by several tests that have been conducted with similar groups of students up-front. The training of the teaching staff will be done beforehand in order to be qualified to apply the methods and demonstrate their use to their students. Each teacher will train students’ groups composed of all the six nations participating in the project. Those students who are visiting participants in a foreign hosting country will be limited to observe non-verbal behaviour, as they will most likely not be able to understand the verbal behaviour. The comparison of their foreign perspective with the local students’ view will lead to an essential gain for all students as they will become aware of cultural biases while working together. 

Examples of leading questions

  • Are different collective identities still empirically verifiable in the participating states or is it already possible to prove a common European basis?
  • Which different or similar behaviours can be empirically proven e.g. in dealing with conflict or decision taking?
  • Are there systematic differences between the perceptions of students depending on their nationalities?
  • Are there systematic biases in the way they perceive their own culture and foreign environments?

What do we expect from the project?

The results will be twofold: On a personal level, the students and also the staff will have gained a better understanding of various European nations and their cultures. They will have developed ways to communicate and cooperate and to overcome language and cultural barriers. The will have got a deeper understanding of mechanisms of teamwork across borders, and the challenges and chances connected with EU-intercultural teams. Last but not least, they will get back into their own national environments and disseminate the experience and knowledge they have acquired into their business environments (for DHBW-students), their universities and their private surroundings.

On a scientific level, the results will consist of a broad database collected with the means of scientifically recognised methods on behaviours and identities of citizens in different European countries. We expect to receive a deeper understanding of attitudes towards other countries and the idea of Europe as a whole. As these data and results will be made accessible to all interested and relevant institutions, structures and businesses, political and cultural bodies as well as companies and universities, another result will be the creation of a platform where data and analyses will be shared.