Herb Nestler offers some compelling evidence on...
The Statistical Case for Global Integration Training
Intercultural preparedness must not stop with learning
the customs and behaviors of a foreign culture. Putting
that information to work in your daily contacts with
colleagues and customers from another country often
requires some practice in the safe environment of a
Let's take a simple example: the role employees see
their managers as having in different cultures. Andre
Laurent of the world-renowned Insead School in Paris
surveyed thousands of employees in different countries.
The results of his survey appear below. He asked:
"Is it important for a manager to have at hand
precise answers to most of the questions that his subordinates
may raise about their work?"
People in agreement see the boss as a seasoned expert
in the same field as the subordinate. Those responding
negatively see the boss as a specialist in management,
a leader who did not necessarily rise through the ranks
of an organization.
Perhaps even more important to us is the result of
a follow-up study laurent conducted which focused on
a French-US joint venture which conducted no intercultural
team-building. He wanted to see if working together
would automatically cause a "meeting of the minds"
between the French and Americans. After five years of
working side by side, did the Americans adapt to the
attitudes of the French and vice versa?
Andre Laurent, "The Cultural Diversity of Western
Conceptions of Management".
Based on a study he did at the Insead School, Paris.
To the surprise of most everyone who sees these results,
the attitudes did not become similar; instead they become
But just how serious are these behavioral differences
to global venture success? Another study analyzed the
reasons that international joint ventures failed. Quite
surprisingly only 30% of the failures were attributable
to problems of planning, technology, finance, etc. --
the so-called "hard" issues of business. Fully
7 out of every 10 failures was directly traceable to
the behavior patterns of those in management positions.
From Evka Razvigorova and Gottfried Wolf-Lauden,
"East-West Joint Ventures: The New Business Environment",
1991 Blackwell Publications
If we can conquer the interpersonal communications
barriers, multi-national companies have a significantly
greater chance for success. I have had the opportunity
to work together with some intercultural teams and help
them develop a system for improving their internal and
external communications. It can be the difference between
failure and success.