A Tool That Maps Out Cultural Differences – Harvard Business Review



Interesting approach to understanding cross-cultural differences from a management perspective. Canada does not figure but the graphs are interesting. Risk of stereotyping, of course, but it may help people reflect on their styles and the impact on others:

Erin Meyer, an American (from Minnesota) in Paris who coaches executives in managing cross-cultural career moves and teaches at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, has a theory about these malentendus. The problem, she argues, is that most people tend to emphasize just one or two, at most three, dimensions of cultural difference when it comes to parsing and predicting foreigners’ behavior.

But cultures differ along many more than three dimensions, so the more dimensions you consider, the less likely you are to trip up on a cultural paradox — you’ll be able to tell that incoming French manager to tone down critiques of his American subordinates before he upsets them.

The trouble, of course, is that it’s cognitively difficult for us to keep more than three dimensions of comparison in our head at once. What’s more, we tend to lose sight of the fact that relative, not absolute differences, are what matters. Most cultures would find the Brazilians to be very relaxed about punctuality, for instance, but Brazilians themselves tend to struggle to adapt to Indians’ even more casual notions of time.

A Tool That Maps Out Cultural Differences – David Champion – Harvard Business Review.

The Rise of Multicultural Managers | INSEAD Knowledge

A good overview by INSEAD academics of some of the advantages for larger companies of multicultural managers and leaders, and some of the advantages:

  • “Making creative associations and drawing analogies between geographical markets, allowing L’Oreal to develop global products and build global brands while remaining sensitive to local market differences.
  • Interpreting complex knowledge – i.e. tacit, collective and culture-dependent, hence impossible to simply “explain” across cultures and contexts, an essential skill when marketing products like cosmetics, where much of understanding is tacit and culture-dependent.
  •  Anticipating cross-cultural conflicts, and addressing them, something critical to the effectiveness of global teams.
  •  Integrating new team members from different cultures into teams that quickly develop their own norms of interaction and a strong “in or out” identity, making joining the team once it has been in existence for a while particularly difficult.
  • Mediating the relationship between global teams, with a high level of cultural diversity among their members, and the senior executives they report to, or their interaction with local subsidiary staff they collaborate with, who are usually monocultural.”

The Rise of Multicultural Managers | INSEAD Knowledge.