The impact of intercultural factors on the planning of theological education in the Dominican Republic
Penland, Jonathan Stephen
MetadataShow full item record
Western theological educators participate in the planning of theological education programs for rapidly growing churches in postcolonial societies like the Dominican Republic. Their work can be self-defeating unless they understand the intercultural factors produced by their placement within a postcolonial context. This critical ethnographic case study examined how intercultural factors shaped the planning of the theological education program of the Dominican Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA). Twenty-one participants were selected as a purposive sample. Each participant was interviewed using the Critical Incident Technique. In this study, a critical incident was defined as a key decision that changed the direction and development of the theological education program. Interviews lasted approximately an hour and were audio-taped, transcribed, and reviewed by the participants. The constant comparative method of data analysis was used during the 16 months of the study. The 21 participants mentioned 43 critical incidents. Data analysis identified five interrelated intercultural factors that impacted the planning of the theological education program in five distinct ways. The first factor was Dominican hybridity and collectivity versus American individuality. The second was Dominican extensive power distance orientation versus American compressed power distance orientation. The third was Dominican preference for consensus versus American top-down management. The fourth was Dominican acquiescence to American control versus American organizational loyalty. The fifth was Dominican racial and gender inequality versus American racial and gender equality. These five intercultural factors impacted the theological education program by producing communication difficulties, blurring lines of authority, leaving organizational cross-purposes undetected, encouraging unilateral decisionmaking, and marginalizing the rural poor. Three conclusions were drawn from this study. The first conclusion was that frame factors limited collaborative planning to the resolution of substantive issues and left key metaissues unresolved. The second conclusion was that subordinate stakeholders did not have access to the planning table regardless of whether the education committee was American-led or Dominican-led. The third conclusion was that educational planning reproduced Dominican societal inequalities.