Reflections on cross-cultural cooperation #1

In this category we reflect and comment on theories and practices in the field of cross-cultural cooperation.

We start with some reflections on Geert Hofstede's theory of cultural dimensions, which has become a dominant paradigm in the field. People around the world follow in his footsteps. Those certified in Hofstede's dimensions, teachers, trainers and others duplicate his model. Other specialists in the field continue to stick to Hofstede's basic assumptions. Fons Trompenaars developed his dimensions reminiscent of Hofstede and set up his own institute for certification. Erin Meyer training at INSEAD. "The Business school for the world" as they claim to be, likes to compare "the French", "the English", and "the Indians" to make her point. The extent and influence of this dominant paradigm is difficult to fathom.

All of these people have learned to discuss cross-cultural cooperation in terms of comparison between nations: "The Japanese are like this; the French are like that; the Brazilians are like that." Who are "the Japanese"? Who are "the French"? Who are "the Brazilians"? Rather than helping people to think beyond stereotypes, does it not make things worse if we see people as nations?

Hofstede should be credited for his enormous contribution to the field, but we are not in the 1970s anymore, so let us try to uplift the dialogue on diversity and cross-cultural cooperation to a dialogue between people.

Cultures are not static.
People are not nations.
We plead for bottom-up strategies instead of a priori assumptions, for diversity and flexibility instead of fixed categories. 

The Lies that Bind. Rethinking Identity

Anthony Kwame Appiah is one of my favorite authors. I would like to promote all of his books. From In My Father's House, to The Ethics of Identity, Cosmopolitanism, to The Lies That Bind. Rethinking Identity. They are beautifully written, sharp, poetic, charming, bright, personal, eye-opening and eloquent. If more people would read his work we would live in a different world.

#culturalquantum

Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding #5

This category introduces participant's cases that we discussed in workshops. The variety of issues people come across reflects the multitude of cross-cultural misunderstandings and how disrupting and dysfunctional they can be.

"We were at a local school in the countryside in Ethiopia for data collection. The day before, children were asked by their teachers to bring their parents if possible (to answer one of our questionnaires). But when we arrived, nobody of our team gave clear information to the parents about what was going to happen. Maybe some of them were already waiting there for hours. I was feeling ashamed and very uncomfortable because in my opinion it was not very respectful to keep them waiting without concrete information and guidelines about our plan of action. Because I was just as student at that moment, I did not dare to ask my supervisors why they did not explain our plan and purpose to the parents or to advise them to do so."

#culturalquantum

Can Non-Europeans Think?

My confrontation and deep immersion into Asian literature, philosophy, and art often made me wonder why so little of all that was known to the general public in the West. The history of literature I was taught at university in Europe only contained only Western literature. Art history contained only Western art, with in the fringes some 'ethnic' art from other places in the world. Management books I read all promoted western-style management.

Hamid Dabashi was one of the authors who made me realize why. Can Non-Europeans Think? is a must read. It is eye-opening and bright.

#culturalquantum 

Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding #4

This category introduces participant's cases that we discussed in workshops. The variety of issues people come across reflects the multitude of cross-cultural misunderstandings and how disrupting and dysfunctional they can be.

"I thought everyone here greet each other with a kiss. I tried to kiss my professor but he rejected with a handshake and smile. He then explain a man was not supposed to kiss people who have higher status than he does. Very very awkward."

#culturalquantum

Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding #3

This category introduces participant's cases that we discussed in workshops. The variety of issues people come across reflects the multitude of cross-cultural misunderstandings and how disrupting and dysfunctional they can be.

"I went to visit a supplier to one of our main customers with whom we interact for achieving the best results in our product. We tried to help them out with a problem they were facing. A Chinese colleague who had some (but limited) related technical background accompanied me. Every question I asked resulted in a half hour (seemingly heated) discussion in Chinese, which was afterwards summarized and translated as “OK” or Not OK”."

#culturalquantum

 

 

Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding #2

This category introduces participant's cases that we discussed in workshops. The variety of issues people come across reflects the multitude of cross-cultural misunderstandings and how disrupting and dysfunctional they can be.

"In our project in Colombia we wanted to involve all different stakeholders to participate in an active way. We had a meeting to organize and harmonize the activities of different organizations to avoid duplicating efforts. However, everyone wanted to think only about his own activities and interests. It was also difficult to communicate as the local leaders prefer to speak Quechua (native language) and it was difficult for us to follow the discussions. I think they did not want to share with us all the things that were happening and there were other stories of the past that could be affecting and needed to be solved before going forward."

#culturalquantum

Cross-Cultural Misunderstanding #1

This category introduces participant's cases that we discussed in workshops. The variety of issues people come across reflects the multitude of cross-cultural misunderstandings and how disrupting and dysfunctional they can be.

 "I flew from Germany to China for a meeting with my counterpart at an engine company: despite of long preparations and agreements via email, after arriving on site it turned out the appropriate people were not available, the scheduled meetings could not take place, … As a result a 3 day visit was reduced to a 3 hour courtesy meeting."

#culturalquantum

Cultural Quantum. A Practical Method for Efficient Cross-Cultural Cooperation

In this book I describe and apply the Cultural Quantum® Five Step Method to a variety of cases. It took me a long time to develop and fine-tune the method. My deep immersion into Asia pushed me in learning to look at the world around me beyond my the European frame of reference I was brought up with. I soon discovered many worlds that were endlessly fascinating and enriching. I hope you will join me in this journey.

In this category of 'Must Read Books' I will introduce books I love and authors who's books are in line with what we stand for. Watch this space!

#culturalquantum

What people say about Cultural Quantum

 
Close

Join Our Community