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university of tampere: faculty of education: research: research projects: multi-train:
Faculty of EducationMULTI-TRAIN


The objective of the MULTI-TRAIN project is to provide empirically validated know-how about how to contribute to successful daily intercultural interaction and learning in social and health care work in Finland. In doing so, the project will make us of the methodology of contextual action research approach. The elementary aim is to help social and health care organizations to manage cultural change, to solve interaction problems arising and to create conditions for sustainable transformation processes.

The basis for the project design and for the composition of the research team are four key factors causing concern in daily social and health care work: Management of diversity; Recruitment/qualification; Intercultural interaction; and Intercultural learning. 

Our research question sounds: What kind of changes and transformation processes are needed to create conditions for successful intercultural interaction and learning in multicultural social and health care work?

The project researchers will work in close collaboration with five participating social and health care providers:

Hatanpää hospital

Karhula hospital

Koukkuniemi Home for the Elderly

Kuopio University Hospital (KUH)

Mainio Vire

Project design

As no single discipline could investigate all the components of the topic in question, the project adopts a multi-disciplinary approach. According to Susman (1983), in each transformative cycle of an action research process there are the five following phases: Diagnosing; Action planning; Taking action; Evaluating; and Specifying learning.

DIAGNOSIS (Identifying interaction problems) In the first phase, key factors causing concern in the participating organizations will be identified. This will be done in collaboration with the representatives of the work communities. In each case an Expert Team will be set up. The team members will work in close collaboration with project researchers. Individual and group interviews and observations will be used to review the characteristics of everyday intercultural interaction situations among managers (incl. HRM personnel) and the representatives of minority and majority population, including physicians, nurses and their patients (if possible).  The goal is to obtain information on the interventions needed for different agents to work successfully side by side.

ACTION PLANNING (Considering alternative courses of action) In each organization, the diagnosis will be followed by collaborative assessments and postulation of possible solutions, from which a single plan of action will emerge. Working practices and presumed interaction problems will be assessed both from an organizational point of view and as they occur in daily lives of individual people. After reaching an agreement of focus groups and interventions needed, introductory materials will be prepared and delivered in each participating organization.

TAKING ACTION (Selecting a course of action) The plan of action will be implemented in collaboration with the project researchers and work communities. Information on diversity issues will be delivered in multiple ways. In this task, the know-how of transnational personnel will be utilized. Training sessions, multicultural counselling activities and other interventions will mainly be accomplished by the members of the research team. The researchers work with the representatives of the participating organizations to propose a new course of action and to improve the knowledge, practices and strategies in cultural diversity issues. The role of human resource practices is vital on this account. The aim of interventions is to create conditions and enabling supportive working practices for successful daily interaction and collaboration.

EVALUATING (Studying the consequences of an action) The outcomes of different courses of action will be evaluated. Data on the participants’ experiences and conceptions will be collected via individual and group interviews. In particular, we are interested in whether the respondents have experienced culturally empowering situations. In addition, our intention is to ascertain whether and how HRM practices have been changed. The findings will be interpreted in light of how successful the action has been. This analytical process entails reflexive collaboration with the project staff and the local Expert Teams. 

SPECIFYING LEARNING (Identifying general findings) The project staff and Expert Teams will continue their work to identify general findings and fix follow-up activities. The goal is to produce mutually acceptable outcomes for each organization, with the process being maintained by them afterwards. A key issue of concern is what kind of educational activities are needed in order to encourage intercultural understanding among all actors involved. A further issue of importance is to commit local managers to take responsibility for the future activities. 


Susman, G. (1983) Action Research: A Sociotechnical Systems Perspective. In Morgan, G. (Ed.) Beyond Mtehod: Strategies for Social Science Research. London: Sage Publications, 95-113.


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