The Origins of Cultural Differences and Their Impact on Management

The Origins of Cultural Differences and Their Impact on Management

The Origins of Cultural Differences and Their Impact on Management

The Origins of Cultural Differences and Their Impact on Management

Synopsis

In cross-cultural business settings, the author suggests that it is not enough to know that behavior differs across cultures, but also how differences in values drive these behavior. To truly understand the differences among cultures, one must understand their origins, how they emerged on the world stage, the various economic, political, physical, social, and religious forces that shaped them. This is a unique book in that it traces the antecedents of people's behavior and shows readers why cultures differ and includes suggestions for adjusting to these differences. Engrossing and revealing, Scarborough's book will be essential for corporate management and others involved in international commerce, but also for their counterparts in the public sector, who also understand why it is necessary to get along with people from other cultures in the pursuit of mutually beneficial goals.

Excerpt

America is often called a melting pot. My colleague and friend Ivan Blanco says it is a salad. It really is more of a stew. The notion of a melting pot suggests that new arrivals are absorbed and folded into a homogenous, liquid mass--what chemists would call a solution. We are indeed thrown into a common pot where we are subjected to the heat of trying to get along with and understand one another. As we simmer, our essences and flavors intermingle but we still retain our identity. A bit of meat may absorb some of the flavor of a piece of onion, but we still can stick a fork into the pot and pull out morsels we can identify clearly as one or the other. The result then is actually more a mixture than a solution because we retain our essences, that is, our cultural origins. We have no basis to estimate how long this pot must simmer before the mixture really becomes a solution. Perhaps one day it will come to pass.

As one tries to recognize the flavors and the simmering interactions among the ingredients in a pot, one is dealing with the challenge of cultural diversity within the stew. Some stews are more homogenous than others because they have been simmering longer or because there has been little experimentation with new ingredients or seasonings. Some are more flavorful because of a more eclectic mix of ingredients or more-exotic seasonings. Each stew, or culture, has its own recipe of core values. Managers trying to function within a given stew pot may assume, to their regret, conformance with the recipe by each ingredient, that is, each person or cultural group. More-sophisticated managers recognize the potential to be gained by exploiting both the obvious and more-subtle differences among the ingredients even while trying to maintain harmony among them. Added ingredients must conform to the basic recipe, or they may upset a delicate balance.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.