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Bridging the Culture Gap

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Bridging the Culture Gap

A Practical Guide to International Business Communication

Kogan Page,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Don't fall into the gap while trying to bridge cultures. Instead, listen, learn, look and beware of misunderstandings.

Editorial Rating



  • For Beginners
  • Engaging


This book is a very anecdotal, informal, easy-to-read tour of the culture gap. It is neither systematic nor particularly deep, but it might well be a useful addition to the briefcase of a manager posted to another country or involved in any way with people from other cultures. Authors Penny Carté and Chris Fox offer several pieces of advice, and emphasize them by repeating them quite frequently. Their most notable counsel is to ask questions and keep an open mind. For people with any degree of international business experience, this may seem quite basic and, of course, it is. Therefore, getAbstract recommends it to neophytes for its basic utility and good nature. The authors illustrate their advice with anecdotes that have something of the appeal of a bowl of salted nuts. They aren't particularly substantive or nutritious, yet you can't help but keep reaching for another one.


Mapping Cultural Preferences

A U.K. communications company called Canning provides consulting services on issues of language and culture. People from the firm hear both sides of the culture clash story - the complaints about awkward, unreasonable foreign bosses, or about devious, uncooperative locals, or about audiences that give cold shoulders to the best-prepared presentations. They even worked with a Swedish company whose Chinese manager disregarded corporate policies about vendors, and worked exclusively with suppliers who were members of his family. Why? Because, he said, they were the only people he could trust.

In fact, cultures can be mapped on preference scales, similar to number lines. To draw such a preference scale, take a sheet of paper, and put a "0" in the middle. Then in increments of ten, count off five segments on either side of the zero. Your scale will look like this:

50 40 30 20 10 0 10 20 30 40 50 It's Right or Wrong It All Depends

At one end of the scale, put an extreme example of a cultural belief. Write its opposite at the other end. The example above is a scale showing degrees of belief in fixed truth or situational truth. Americans...

About the Authors

Penny Carte is a modern languages graduate who has been Canning's Research and Development Director since 1988. Chris Fox joined Canning in 1999, has published articles on political and cultural theory, and writes regularly on Welsh rugby.

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