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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

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

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 Sub-Saharan Africa Cluster

If everyone helps to hold up the sky, then one person does not become tired. - Askhari Johnson Hodari, Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs - The Sub-Saharan Africa cluster - that, according to the Globe Project, includes Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa (Black population. White population considered as part…

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…

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 Latin Europe Cluster

I had forgotten how gently time passes in Paris. As lively as the city is, there's a stillness to it, a peace that lures you in. In Paris, with a glass of wine in your hand, you can just be. - Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale - *** The Latin Europe cluster includes France, Israel (considered…

The Germanic Europe Cluster

I remember learning German - so beautiful, so strange - at school in Australia on the other side of the earth. I liked the sticklebrick nature of it, building long supple words by putting short ones together. Things could be brought into being that had no name in English -…

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

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…

The Southern Asia cluster

India lives in several centuries at the same time. - Arundhati Roy, Power Politics -   After the Anglo- and the Confucian-Asia cluster, this series about effective global leadership continues with the Southern-Asia cluster. - How important is hierarchy in Indian business culture? - What does the Filipino concept of “Pakisisama” (a term that comes from…

The Confucian-Asia cluster

The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions. - Confucius - The shame-based Confucian-Asia cluster - that includes China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan - is home to high-context, polychronic cultures, that prefer an indirect communication style (context is more important than words) and that see time as…

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

II/II. National culture, international business strategy and common misunderstandings between the East and the West

It's dreadful what little things lead people to misunderstand each other. - L.M. Montgomery - In the previous article we’ve briefly explored the theory behind social connections, harmony, consensus in the Confucian-Asian cluster: relationships founded on the principles of Confucianism tend to be characterised by continuity and reciprocation, hierarchy and preservation of…

Category : Articles   15-01-2020   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

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…

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

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…

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

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…

The iceberg model

Culture hides more than it reveals, and strangely enough what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants.  - E.T. Hall - *** What do people value the most, a legal document or an informal agreement? Words they can hear/read or the meaning in what is not said? How likely is…

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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