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Cultural intelligence and intercultural sensitivity: the key elements of expatriate success

In a workplace scenario, cross-cultural competence can be defined as the ability to function effectively in a multicultural setting: a “culturally competent” employee is expected to be able to interact and communicate with people coming from different cultural backgrounds, and to understand (and contextualize) the impact of culture on their…

Category : Articles   11-05-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The Concepts of Happiness and Well-being Across Cultures

"Happiness is dependent on unhappiness, while unhappiness is hidden in happiness." - Chinese proverb - *** What ideas, thoughts, and feelings do you associate with the word "happiness"? Have you ever considered the possibility that the definition of happiness might depend on one's cultural background? Today we're going back to the topic of individualistic…

Category : Articles   04-03-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Shame, honor, and two different flavors of collectivism

"Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash: your picture in the paper nor…

Category : Articles   17-02-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Forgiveness In Individualistic and Collectivist Cultures

Do not be concerned with the faults of other persons. Do not see others' faults with a hateful mind. There is an old saying that if you stop seeing others' faults, then naturally seniors and venerated and juniors are revered. Do not imitate others' faults; just cultivate virtue. Buddha prohibited…

Category : Articles   09-02-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The curious case of the Iceberg of Ignorance, an "allegedly" relevant study (or so they say) - 6th Issue

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts   - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -   *** Dear Reader, You might have noticed that lately, I’ve been writing about culture and leadership: while there’s quite a lot of interesting material…

Category : Mudita's digest   09-02-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The cultural context in business communication, a cross country comparison

One of the most effective ways to learn about oneself is by taking seriously the cultures of others. It forces you to pay attention to those details of life which differentiate them from you - Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language - ***   To continue with the topic of cross-cultural differences in outsourcing…

Category : Articles   03-02-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Leadership styles across cultures, an overview

Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say 'We have done this ourselves'. - Lao Tzu - ***   In last week’s article…

Category : Articles   26-01-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The impact of cultural differences on visual perception

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts. - James Allen, As a Man Thinketh - *** If you were asked which three items of these five best belong together, which ones would you choose, and why? If you chose three items that share similar…

Category : Articles   18-01-2021   by admin

Challenges and misconceptions in intercultural negotiations

Where two principles really do meet which cannot be reconciled with one another, then each man declares the other a fool and a heretic. - Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty - *** Negotiation, “an interaction and process between entities who compromise to agree on matters of mutual interest, while optimizing their individual utilities”, has…

Category : Articles   11-01-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Cultural variations in responses to workplace incivility

Bıçak yarası geçer, dil yarası geçmez (Words cut deeper than swords) - Turkish Proverb - *** With regard to the ethnic/cultural group you belong to (for example: Anglo-American, Asian-American, upper-class Croatian, rural Thais, etc.), how would you choose to answer the following questions?   1. The concept of 'family' includes: - parents, spouse, and children; - all extended…

Category : Articles   04-01-2021   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Challenges in cross cultural marketing and advertising

Understanding languages and other cultures builds bridges. It is the fastest way to bring the world closer together and to Truth. Through understanding, people will be able to see their similarities before differences. - Suzy Kassem - *** "The world’s worst advertising gaffe": a cross-cultural perspective on the "D&G Loves China" campaign.   In two…

Category : Articles   15-11-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Narcissism and competitive communication in individualistic cultures

"When the healthy pursuit of self-interest and self-realization turns into self-absorption, other people can lose their intrinsic value in our eyes and become mere means to the fulfilment of our needs and desires." - P.M. Forni, The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude- *** Conversational Narcissism, described by sociologist Charles Derber…

Category : Articles   04-11-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The Middle East Cluster

This Proto-Indo-European term ghosti referred to a kind of unspoken etiquette, a notion that on seeing strangers on the horizon, rather than choose to fell them with spears or sling-shots, instead we should take the risk of welcoming them across our threshold – on the chance that they might bring…

ACAMS DUBLIN - Cross-cultural communication, the costly risk of misunderstandings

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. - George Bernard Shaw - *** One of the main characteristics of intercultural communication is that it usually takes place between "strangers": people born and raised in different environments, accustomed to often divergent sets of values and beliefs, which…

Category : Articles   25-09-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Time Management Across Different Cultures - 2nd Issue

"Aside from velcro, time is the most mysterious substance in the universe. You can't see it or touch it, yet a plumber can charge you upwards of seventy-five dollars per hour for it, without necessarily fixing anything." - Dave Barry - *** Dear Reader,   Welcome to the second issue of "Oddities & Curiosities", Mudita's "no-frills", irregular…

Category : Mudita's digest   21-09-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Buyer Personas and the role of lifestyle, values, and beliefs in market segmentation

If I have a handful of silver it is because I work and my wife works, and we do not, as some do, sit idling over a gambling table or gossiping on doorsteps never swept, letting the fields grow to weeds and our children go half-fed! - Pearl S. Buck…

Category : Articles   03-09-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The importance of context in the communication process

Dear Reader, As you may have noticed, Mudita has recently launched its first course (available here): going forward, I will share here on the blog snippets of the courses that are currently on offer or due to launch soon. Here’s a short preview of the course on Intercultural Communication: hope you’ll…

Category : Articles   25-08-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Gift Giving Etiquette in the Confucian-Asia cluster: the luxury fruit culture

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift. - Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur - *** In a previous article we’ve discussed about the importance of guanxi in Chinese business: as explained by the author (Calipe Chong), guanxi - that literally translates as “relationships” - is to be intended as the “mechanism that provides…

Category : Articles   22-07-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The Eastern Europe Cluster

But they could neither of them persuade me, for there is nothing dearer to a man than his own country and his parents, and however splendid a home he may have in a foreign country, if it be far from father or mother, he does not care about it. - Homer, The…

The Nordic Cluster

The Swedish system is best understood not in terms of socialism, but in terms of Rousseau, he continued: Rousseau was an extreme egalitarian and he really hated any kind of dependence --depending on other people destroyed your integrity, your authenticity-- therefore the ideal situation was one where every citizen was…

Crisis Management and the influence of cultural diversity on national responses to emergencies: an East v West comparison

  Individuality and freedom are undoubtedly the greatest achievements of modern culture. . . . But we have fallen into the trap of individualism . . . and have lost sight of the relationships between the individual and the social system, between freedom and responsibility. . . . Our young adults—even…

Category : Articles   14-05-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

II/II Virtual Teams: the implications of socio-emotional distance

Every once in a while, people need to be in the presence of things that are really far away.   - Ian Frazier - *** Dear readers, While in the previous article we’vetalked about proxemics, territoriality, and contact to introduce the topic ofspace management across different cultures, this week we’re going toexplore some of thefactors…

Category : Articles   23-04-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

I/II - Virtual Teams: space management across different cultures

Distance has the same effect on the mind as on the eye - Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia *** The recent Coronavirus outbreak compelled the majority of organizations around the world to roll out mandatory remote working for their staff: while some employees are not new to remote working, for…

Category : Articles   30-03-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Global leadership and the differences between Indian and American culture

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. - George Bernard Shaw - ***   Dear readers, in a previous article about the importance of cultural compatibility in outsourcing it’s been highlighted that the top locations for outsourcing deals are either Asian (Confucian Asia/Southern Asia) or Latin American countries,…

Category : Articles   18-03-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The Latin America Cluster

Yes, Latinos dream more. When you live in poverty, when your president is imposed upon you, when they kill someone and no one gets indicted, and when only a few get rich, of course you dream more. It's no coincidence that magic realism happens in Latin America, because for us…

Ethnocentrism, the biggest threat to global organizations

If anyone, no matter who, were given the opportunity of choosing from amongst all the nations in the world the set of beliefs which he thought best, he would inevitably—after careful considerations of their relative merits—choose that of his own country. Everyone without exception believes his own native customs, and…

Category : Articles   27-02-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

The Anglo Cluster

This is the story of America. Everybody's doing what they think they're supposed to do. - Jack Kerouac, On The Road -   As anticipated in the previous article , the Globe Project - a study on cross-cultural leadership - groups the societal cultures object of the research into ten major culture clusters,…

Global Leadership, an introduction to culture clusters

Dear readers, Those of you who’ve been following this blog for the past few months might be already familiar with Hofstede’s framework and with the concept of cultural dimensions (infographics available here): let me now introduce you to Project GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Research), a study about Leadership…

Social and business connections in China: an insider’s perspective on guanxi

Maria’s intro:   The visitors who have been reading this blog over the past few months, by now might have a good understanding of what makes the “Eastern” and the “Western” approaches to business so different from each other. One of those factors - perhaps the most important one - is the concept…

Category : Articles   06-02-2020   by Calipe Chong

Global business networking and the hidden dangers of LinkedIn

1. Ethical concerns as a small (unverified) business owner LinkedIn - “the world’s largest professional network”, boasts over “660+ million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide”, has the mission to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful” and the vision to “create economic opportunity…

Category : Articles   03-02-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

#AskMudita Current topic: Main cultural differences between Latin- and North America

Dear readers, This is an example of the messages I occasionally receive through the online form:   “Dear Sir/Madam, I am writing to ask if you could please point me in the right direction. I am South American and have a hard time understanding certain personality traits Americans have, especially in the workplace.…

Category : Articles   23-01-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

I/II. Social connections, harmony, consensus: Confucian beliefs and business culture in China, Japan and Korea

Fundamentally, Japanese culture is based on rice farming. Rice farming requires a lot of water, and water must be shared evenly by everyone. Planting rice also required teams of people walking from row to row, as the same speed. And all of this has meant that uniqueness had to be…

Category : Articles   03-01-2020   by Maria Antonietta Marino

"Giving and losing "face": honour, social reputation and networking in Asian countries"

People will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou - While Maya Angelou’s quote is universal and likely to resonate with most people regardless of their cultural background, interactions between Westerners and members of Asian cultures may be negatively affected by the poor understanding of “face”, a concept relevant…

Category : Articles   27-12-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Uncertainty Avoidance

You never know these days. Uninvited guests may force you to take an unplanned trip to an unknown destination; doesn’t hurt to be in your Sunday clothes. - Anurag Shourie - *** Uncertainty Avoidance, one of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, is the degree to which members of a specific culture are comfortable with uncertainty and…

II/II: "Why do we work so hard?”: Introduction to guilt- and shame cultures

A man must not be without shame, for the shame of being without shame is shamelessness indeed. - Mencius - There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us…

Category : Articles   16-12-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

I/II: "Why do we work so hard?” Motivation and reward across different cultures

The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense    Thomas A. Edison   Why do we work hard? What are the driving forces behind someone’s strong work ethic, and what would be an effective reward system for a multi-national workforce?   Motivation, the process that initiates and…

Category : Articles   09-12-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

On biases, ethnocentrism and other relationship-damaging beliefs

"An American girl cleaned the room while her Thai roommate was having breakfast in the dormitory dining hall. When the roommate returned, she became upset, cried, and left the room. Later it became clear that the American girl had placed the Thai girl’s skirt on the pillow portion of the…

Category : Articles   25-11-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Masculinity-Femininity (Tough-Tender)

I have an extremely strong, masculine mind and a feminine sensibility level, which is kind of an unusual combination. Both men and women tell me things and I can relate on two levels simultaneously - Truman Capote -   According to Hofstede’s definitions, masculinity is “a preference in society for achievement, heroism, assertiveness…

Food, values and entrepreneurship in diaspora communities

How a people eats is one of the most powerful ways they have to express, and preserve, their cultural identity...To make food choices more scientific is to empty them of their ethnic content and history (Michael Pollan - In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto)   What sort of information can we gather…

Category : Articles   06-11-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Power dynamics in the workplace and the hidden costs of fearful communication

In her book “Controlling Other People: The impact of power in stereotyping”, researcher Susan Fiske claimed that “Secretaries know more about their bosses than vice-versa; graduate students know more about their advisors than vice-versa” : what happens when communication in the workplace is ruled by power dynamics and the voice of one…

Category : Articles   15-10-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Consumer segmentation: the influence of cultural factors on purchasing behaviour

Authors Thomas Petit and Alan Zakon once observed that "Advertising must be compatible with the values of the consumer if it is to influence behaviour. Advertising is an educating and not a forcing process. It interprets the want-satisfying qualities of the product for the consumer. To do this, it must…

Category : Articles   30-08-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Space planning: a cultural matter

According to anthropologist E.T. Hall, proxemics is "the spatial dimension of non verbal behavior", the study of man's perception and use of space : social research suggests that people from different cultural backgrounds do not share the same preferences in relation to space management, and that what may appear as…

Category : Articles   07-08-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Global Sales and the Customer Journey: the effect of cultural values on individual choices

Are individual choices truly “individual” and an indication of our own personal preference? In a study conducted for Stannford University in 1999, 29 Asian and 27 European-American citizens recruited at the San Francisco International Airport were asked to fill in a short questionnaire and told that afterwards they would receive a…

Category : Articles   30-07-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Time Management challenges in the global workplace

You're on a business trip to meet with some client. The meeting is delayed. Finally it begins, but then their phone rings and they walk out of the room. They come back, the meeting resumes, but later on someone walks in unexpectedly for some important matter that needs you client's…

Category : Articles   24-07-2019   by Maria Antonietta Marino

Communication: High- and Low-Context Cultures

Always be careful, as they say, 'Text without context is usually pretext   - Ted Mallory -   In 1976, anthropologist E.T. Hall developed the iceberg analogy of culture: he theorized that if culture was an iceberg, some of its aspects (above the water line) would be visible and obvious to everyone, while most…

Power Distance

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln - "Power Distance ", one of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, indicates the extent to which societies and organizations accept power inequality among their members. In societies characterized by a high index of…

Monochronic and Polychronic Time

Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do - Jean-Paul Sartre -   Chronemics is the term that indicates the study of the role and use of time in communication: it includes both individual perceptions about time, and the ways time affects interactions (e.g., punctuality, speed…

Individualism-Collectivism

Why should people in one part of the globe have developed collectivist cultures, while others went individualist? The key is how culture is shaped by the way people traditionally made a living, which in turn is shaped by ecology. In East Asia it' s all about rice. Rice requires massive…

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