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Fish Can’t See Water

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Fish Can’t See Water

How National Culture Can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy


15 mins. de lectura
10 ideas fundamentales
Audio y Texto

¿De qué se trata?

Just as fish can’t see water, people are often blind to their own national and corporate cultures.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Cultural dynamics can “enable or derail” companies, so firms wishing to expand beyond their national borders must understand and adapt to different cultures. International headhunter Kai Hammerich and communications expert Richard D. Lewis discuss and dissect the cultural blindness in which most organizations operate. The authors provide case studies of global companies to illustrate how national traits affect organizational lifecycle stages. Though academic in tone, this study provides crucial insights into different regional and national cultures, while covering France, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Great Britain and the United States in greater detail. getAbstract recommends this astute guide to executives and managers within global organizations, as well as to international business travelers.


“Corporate Culture”

Like yin and yang, corporate strategy and culture are inseparable. National attributes influence different dimensions of corporate culture. Companies are subject to “national influencers,” the “water people don’t see,” just as fish are unaware of the water in which they swim. National influencers spring from a country’s history, including its politics, geography and climate; from its founders’ and leaders’ “values, beliefs and assumptions”; and from its national “types” or personalities. Despite differing subcultures, the overall core identity of a country generally falls along a continuum marked by one of three major overarching cultures:

  1. “Linear-active” – People in this culture prefer facts, figures, details and organized information, which they process directly. They believe in rules, directions, laws and logic. They are less diplomatic than other cultures; they demand order and punctuality. Linear-actives want results. Linear-active countries include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States.
  2. “Multi-active” – People in this culture are...

About the Authors

Kai Hammerich is a managing director for Russell Reynolds Associates, a global search firm. British linguist Richard D. Lewis is the author of When Cultures Collide.

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