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The Culture Map

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The Culture Map

Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business: How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done

Public Affairs,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Wherever you are, doing as the natives do drives success in a global world. And when in doubt, watch and listen.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


A German human resources manager arrives right on time for your meeting, but the Nigerian executive is 20 minutes late. Your Japanese hosts invite you out for a night of drinking – do you have to go in order to do business? Feedback from a candid French manager leaves you in tears, but feedback from an oblique English boss leaves you mystified as to what it means. Cultural differences often determine what someone views as acceptable workplace behavior. Knowing and respecting these differences is crucial in today’s global environment. International-business expert Erin Meyer dispels the confusion by providing a “culture map” for visualizing these differences. She smartly identifies eight pivotal problem areas marked by cultural disparities, creates a scaled continuum for each area and plots countries along each progression. Use the map to decode where cultures fall relative to each other and to your own; then adapt your behavior in these pivotal areas. getAbstract recommends Meyer’s clear structure and abundant examples as a must-read for anyone working with people from other countries or heading for the airport.


Eight Cultural Scales

What people of one culture or country see as appropriate behavior or common sense may be quite different from what citizens of other countries expect. These differences, both obvious and subtle, affect how people work together with mutual understanding. Your culture influences how you interpret the world and interact with other people. Managers and team members who are unaware of cultural disparities often experience frustration and difficulty achieving organizational goals.

Comparing one country’s culture to another by plotting their places on eight continuums creates a “culture map.” This visual representation identifies the similarities and differences among cultures to help you adjust your leadership and communication styles as needed. The map helps you understand how people from your country experience people from elsewhere and how members of cultures worldwide perceive each other. The eight scales on the cultural map are:

1. “Communicating: Low-Context Versus High-Context”

Effective communication skills vary greatly from one country to another. People from the United States, for example, communicate explicitly, stating what...

About the Author

INSEAD professor Erin Meyer focuses on management skills for international businesses.

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    A. A. 1 week ago
    Wonderful analysis
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    S. .. 2 years ago
    Excelente para tomar conciencia sobre las diferencias con nuestros interlocutores. Un mapa de 8 características que marcan la pauta de relacionamiento con otros.
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    V. Y. 5 years ago
    Good to read