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X-Culture Stories

X-Culture Stories

Just saw J.T. Hinson, one of our former X-Culture participants. He participated in the competition last year.

His story is very inspiring.

His team still stays in touch and communicates on a regular basis. After his team won the X-Culture Competition, his employer was so impressed with J.T.’s work that he offered to pay J.T.’s tuition for the remainder of his studies at UNCG. And he was so impressed by work of one of J.T.’s team members that he offered her a job.

Here is a brief note J.T. sent me after the meeting


Recorded video presentations and live webinars are an indispensable tool in a project like X-Culture.

Over these years, we’ve experimental with about a dozen platforms, such as WebEx, Zoom, BlackBoard Elluminate, Skype Pro, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar,  Adobe Connect, and more.

After much testing, we settled for


Wow! It was great! We’ll do it every semester from now on.

But let me start from the beginning.

So, for a long time, I wanted to provide my students with an opportunity to present their reports at the end of the X-Culture project. Unfortunately, I have 150+ every semester, each on a different team. So it’s 150 presentations. Even at 5 min per presentation, it will take two several days of non-stop presenting. That won’t work.

But then I thought


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A company Facebook page could be a great tool for promoting your business, building a community, and getting useful input from your followers. But managing it could be quite challenging, and frustrating at times.

Yesterday was exactly two years since I’ve created the X-Culture page. We now have 87,000 followers and add about 30 new followers a day.

Here is our experience so far, what I have learned over these 2 years, and what is still a mystery to me.



First, we used X-Culture’s FB page for updates, reminders, and newsletters.

However, soon enough we learned that FB doesn’t show your posts to all your followers. Bummer!


What a pleasant surprise.
I have just received a letter from a student who participated in X-Culture in 2010. Our very first cohort.

She writes,

“Dear Dr. Taras,

I’m contacting you because of the great experienced I had in X-Culture as a student. I’m now a professor at Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara. I would like to know how my students can participate in the X-Cultural project.

I hope we can participate on this excellent project.”


One of the issues we’ve been struggling with for some time is regional representatives.

It has become especially salient since we launched X-Culture Kids – and we seek your advice.

At the first glance, X-Culture does not need regional representatives. Our very simple recruitment strategy has worked very well. The number of applications has been almost doubling annually since X-Culture was launched in 2010.


by Vas Taras

Open-source collaboration and crowd sourcing – the principles at heart of X-Culture – have already changed a number of industries.

Conspicuously, however, business research, education, and consulting are stuck in the “do it in the house” paradigm. We think we can change that.

It would make sense to first share how X-Culture started. It’s a fascinating story of serendipity and hard work. However, history can wait. I’d like to start by sharing our plans for the nearest future.

And no, I am not afraid to opening reveal our new program/service/product plans. Our goal is to make a world a better place by connecting cultures and providing platforms for collaborating learning, research, and business consulting. If somebody takes our ideas and does it better, it’ll mean less work for us.

So, here are the new directions we are exploring.



X-Culture handles an enormous amount of email correspondence.

Our email accounts ([email protected] and [email protected]) must be more internationally connected emails in the world. I am not exaggerating. On a given day, each account receives 200-300 emails from an average of 25-30 countries. And at least once a week, we sent out about 10,000 emails to 45 countries. Sometimes more.

The correspondence with the X-Culture students and professors. All those survey invitations, reminders, newsletters. I am not even counting personal correspondence.

We are occasionally blocked as our email providers limit correspondence to 500 outgoing personal emails per day and 50,000 outgoing survey-related emails. It’s a huge problem, because tends of thousands of people depend on these accounts.

In this blog, I will share with you the challenges of email overload we face, the tricks we use to stay under limit – as well as ask for your help with solving some remaining problems.



X-Culture collects immense amounts of data. Over 2,000 variables. Multi-Level. Multi-Source. Multi-Method. Longitudinal.

We have weekly surveys of all X-Culture participants.

However, much of it is self-report questionnaires. As we learned the hard way, self-report questionnaires are tricky. It’s not that people intentionally lie. But the threat to validity of the data posed by the subjective interpretation of the questions, anchoring, acquiescence bias, extreme response bias, comparison bias, socially-describable answers, and good old response fatigue are HUGE.

Bad data in, misleading results out. Garbage in, garbage out.

In this blog, I will tell you how we detect random (or systemically bias) response, tricks we use to minimize the problem, as well as share some funny (and some troubling) stories about self-report data collection.



The biggest, and really only real problem in team-based projects is free-riding.

It happens always and a lot. Studies show that up to 30% of all team members, regardless of age, profession, or compensation, work less than expected by their team.

In X-Culture, we started off with the usual free-riding rate of about 30%.

Through a series of experiments, we’ve developed procedures that have reduced that number to  3% “bona-fide” free-riders and about 11% “under-performers”.

We have several papers that describe our experiments and research in this area. This blog will provide an overview of the most notable issues, findings, and solutions.