Business Across Cultures
IN THIS SUMMARY
In a global economy, contemplation of culture is neither new nor unusual. In fact, it is crucial for a successful business venture. Often, when company executives seek to break into the international market or form alliances or mergers with another company, they spend a lot of time and money, studying their own culture, as well as the culture they are merging with. But, culture is a tricky thing. It is hard to wrap your arms around, and in many instances, the concept of culture is simplified to a point where it no longer has meaning. Fons Trompenaars and Peter Woolliams pull together extensive research and practical experience in Business Across Cultures to create a toolkit for executives, contemplating the tricky terrain of culture. The authors compare culture to an onion, which has three main layers. The first is the outer layer, which represents the visual aspect of culture. It is the superficial layer represented by clothes, food, and music, or in the business world, the organizational structure and the Human Resources handbook. The second or middle layer is the organization's idea of right and wrong, good and bad. The third layer is the deepest cultural layer, and it is the one that is the hardest for an outsider to see, much less to crack. This inner layer is the implicit culture, which equates to the organization's basic assumptions, their routines and methods. However, it is the layer that is crucial to two separate organization's merging or reconciling. Trompenaars and Woolliams believe that it is not enough to recognize cultural differences, but that corporations must also respect and reconcile the differences. They may have different views of the world, but neither is right and neither is wrong. They are just different views of how the world works. However, somehow, these differences must be reconciled and integrated.