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COLUMN: Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

About the Skills of Translation in Business Translating documents and materials across cultures can cause quite a few headaches. During the facilitation of a training session, a lawyer came to us and shared the following translation experience. After he had put a lot of time into preparing a contract with a future Chinese joint-venture partner, […]

COLUMN: S t r e t c h a b l e Time

Stretchable Time

About the Concept of Time across Cultures During business dealings with people from other cultures, we may encounter that different cultures have different approaches to the concept of time. An interesting example comes from an Indian call-centre: an Indian employee was somewhat confused by a complaint from an Australian client, saying: “It’s very difficult to […]

COLUMN: The Accidental Manager

The accidental Business Manager

A while ago I was talking to an Australian sales manager about dealing with cultural differences in international business. Before our conversation he said, he had never realised that this topic has been an academic discipline for close to 60 years and a management discipline for more than 40 years. He was quite surprised to […]

COLUMN: Rules are Rules, Right?

Rules are rules right

About the questions whether the same Rules Apply across Cultures Just in case you thought that rules, morals and laws were universal… think again. Different cultures can have very different ideas as to how rules, morals, and laws should be applied causing much cross-cultural surprise, confusion and frustration! Societies that value uniformity, also feel that […]

COLUMN: Do’s and Don’ts at Work

Do's and Dont's at Work

An Australian manager prepared himself for each of the countries he was going to visit during a two-week business trip by memorising his substantial list of “Do’s and Don’ts” about China, India and Japan: he was going to meet with a project team in Shanghai, negotiations for a new subsidiary in Bombay, and meet with […]

COLUMN: I Did it My Way

I did it my Way

About the motivation for personal development and taking accountability Last year we encountered two interesting cases within multinational organisations where manager’s lack of motivation to learn about cultural differences negatively impacted the effectiveness of their multicultural teams. Case 1 In the first case we facilitated training for a group of managers responsible for managing multicultural […]

COLUMN: Losing Face and Losing the Deal

Losing Face

A Dutch Project Director, working for an American company and based in Singapore, was more than ready for the upcoming team meeting. Her American colleague, a more senior Project Director had managed to avoid her over the past few days. The American had recently chosen to ignore serious ethical business protocols in order to win […]

COLUMN: The Matrix Re-loaded

The Matrix reloaded

During a training session involving the Australian management team of an American multinational organisation, we talked about the matrix structure, where a professional or a business unit can have two or sometimes three bosses. We also discussed cultural differences with regard to power holders, hierarchical relations and structures: as these differences are considered to be […]