Learn about the ants or they will take over your business. [Anybody watching Tony Shalhoub as Red Wheatus on CBS’s Brain Dead?]
The World of Cross-Culturality is intrusive. It’s like the tiny ants of summer in my kitchen. They’re everywhere. I frantically wipe them off the counter to the left of the sink with a wet towel only to turn and discover half a dozen marching towards the toaster on the right flank. Smush a couple with my finger and instantly a third one is creeping up my forearm. They’re as insidious as lies in a political campaign.
YOUR business initiative exists in YOUR culture, so it is culturally “OF YOUR CULTURE.” It’s uniquely cultural. It’s business in your Home Culture.
But then, you go off and try to connect in an Other Culture. And you feel like there are ants invading the workplace!
All “Business Culture” is overrun by Local Home Culture
The other day, HBR posted Patricia Hinds article Research: Why Best Practices Don’t Translate Across Cultures. (https://hbr.org/2016/06/research-why-best-practices-dont-translate-across-cultures) Hinds did heavy duty research with Catherine Cramton in which they interviewed and observed members of nine mixed-culture software development teams:
“We noticed that management practices that worked well in Germany and the U.S. didn’t fare as well in India. For example, processes for evaluation and rewards that motivated American and German developers created dissatisfaction in India and even drove workers to look for other jobs. . . . In India developers were younger and hungry for more contact with and frequent feedback from managers. In some cases, they left for companies where managers were more hands-on. The flat hierarchy common in Germany and the U.S. was also met with disappointment in India where a steeper hierarchy afforded more opportunities for quick advancement. . . . In India, workers yearned for regular promotions as tangible indicators of their career growth.”
Whether it is about how Other Culture workers perceive bosses, or how Other Culture management motivates workers, the ants rule.
There is NO teleporting a culturally-neutral Business Culture.
You’ve got your ants and they’ve got theirs.
BAM! Got another one!