Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cross Cultural Communications

Good morning Cyberweek 2009 Participants,

I am still in Paris and it is a bright sunny day here. Today I am sharing a bit of information and then I offer you a scenario which I would like you to contemplate.

Culture is made up of many aspects or layers. The outer and more visible layers are all found under the concept of "practices". The first visible layer of "practices" is a culture's symbols. These are words, behaviors, things that carry a particular meaning only known by those who are in that culture. Next layer under "practices" are the culture's heroes. These are the people who are revered and the honor shown them is only understood by those who are members of that culture. Finally under "practices" are the rituals that are at first appearance not necessary to the non member of the culture but for each member of that culture, these ways of behaving are essential for that culture. At the core of all cultures are its values. These drive the meaning in all of the outer layers of a culture. A culture's values are not easily known yet drive all behaviors and choices within each member's life.

With this information, consider the following scenario: Henrik Johnson is a Swedish engineer working full time as a project manager on a job site in Jakarta, Indonesia. Henrik is a specialist in tea globally. His work force in Indonesia are 100% from Indonesia. Henrik sets up virtual meetings on a twice a week basis with his team leaders located in three parts of Indonesia. He has decided that he will have once a month meeting in Jakarta, with a follow up dinner quarterly in his home. His Swedish wife, Marta, and their three daughters, have moved with him to assure a positive and productive work experience for all concerned. When the first quarterly dinner at his home is announced and the invitations are sent out by Hendrik and his wife, Marta, none of the outlying team leaders accept the invitation to dinner at the Johnson home. Why?

I look foward to hearing from you and learning your thoughts on this scenario and its question.

Warm regards,


Jane E. Smith, Esq.
LiSimba Consulting Services, Inc.
Building Relationships for International Business Success

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