This useful reference guide has been written by Dr Deborah Swallow and Eilidh Milnes, both experts on cross-cultural issues. They have worked internationally with major companies to allow them to cross the cultural divide in order to do business successfully.
In this book they illustrate only too graphically how easy it is to make a mistake which can and has scuppered business deals. Examples of how business can go wrong are instructional but I have to say that they also make the book entertaining.
The framework of the book makes it easy to read and helps it to deliver what the authors claim for it which is to “bridge the cultural gaps” within their organisations. They use the analogy of a “pilot’s cockput to describe the various functions, instruments and levers that managers can employ to close the cultural gaps that prevent their organisations from succeeding fully.”
The book covers a range of basic business issues, from leadership to risk. Each chapter begins with a spectrum, so for example, the chapter, covering management, shows how certain areas sit on the spectrum of ‘equality’ to ‘hierarchy’. Thereafter we are given examples of ‘culture crashes’, ‘culture tips’ and ‘cultural insights’. There is space too, to record your thoughts and some action that you think might be required, at a personal, team and organisation level and also in relation to customers.
As a result of reading the book, I quickly built up an idea of the cultural differences that need to be taken account of, in different parts of the world and so how you would respond to different situations. The authors suggest that if you understand that the world tends to ‘cluster’ into different cultures, it makes it easier rather than trying to think in terms of individual countries. An example is of the Far East where ‘face’ is very important and where a deal could easily be lost because of an inability to understand this.
This book will provide you with a good grounding in what you need to know to operate internationally in the business world and when you think in those terms, I am sure that you will agree that it is an excellent investment.
Annie Casey is the business manager for the3rdimagazine.