Friday, February 06, 2009

How this blog got called cross-cultural reviews

How this blog got called cross-cultural reviews

My favourite course when I was studying at The University of Wollongong was cross cultural management taught by Mr. Matt Ngui who was himself a transplanted Malaysian Chinese Australian immigrant. Kudos to Matt!

I fell into studying international business out of boredom but I really like it and as cross-cultural management was an optional course and considered soft skills it was seen as least relevant to many while at the same time nearly 70% of the students were coming from south-east Asia where it was often plain to see in class the cultural challenges in global business. I found it a lot more interesting than quality or operations management.

How much do you know about cross cultural management behaviour?

If you read Clyde Klukhohn’s Mirror for Man (1949) which is a beautiful book every time I read it, you will discover the first actual cultural comparisons ever made in anthropology. In particular you will find the first theoretical description and defence of ethnocentrism. He describes it as a natural and acceptable assumption that one’s own culture is superior to all others. However as you may or may not have discovered it is extremely challenging to do so in anything other than a culturally dualistic sense if you were bred cross-culturally yourself.

The only thing my parents had in common was religion and a mutual love. They are kind, civil but extremely stubborn people. My father was a history major prior to becoming a regional administrator of social services. My mother was an art teacher prior to becoming a housewife, tour guide and rag rug hooker/quilter. Dad had a rich library of books and isolated us in the countryside. I would say Nova Scotia in the 1970s and 1980s was a lot like the US was in the 1950s. I emerged from that world and didn’t realize the gift that it was until I was long gone and that world too is long gone. Cognitive dissonance and group psychology appear to become easier to identify when you become an expat. If nobody knew what their culture was at a particular moment in time or place, such as integers in calculus, how would they ever really know what progress or lack of progress their culture has made since as an outside or islander looking in? The context becomes missing.

Ethnocentrism is hardwired in our implicit responses according to many theories on social cognition. But comparing the systems all started with Klukhohn who provided the MS DOS for all further research. His precepts are carried through Hofstede, Hampden-Turner, Trompennars, and Edward T. & Mildred Hall. All of these folks have provided a storehouse of research on cross cultural management behaviour mostly because it is so essential and responsible for the somewhat completely successful corporatization of planet earth which didn’t happen by chance. It’s probably similar to ESL which has provided a wealth of language acquisition research when compared to other less global languages in terms of practical experimentation and methodology. In growing globally our corporate business systems have increasingly influenced our cultural consciousness and overtly manipulate national cultures. I have a lot of their books here ~ you might appreciate reading them.

The more I’ve read about cultural psychology the more I accept that almost all of our cultural consciousness has become similarly tuned to the corporate and commercial organization of our world which succeeded due to study and application of cross-cultural research. I tend to believe that independent or individual self-identity doesn’t really appear to exist outside of culturally implanted precepts of what is socially acceptable individuality and never has. That one’s concept of self is implanted there, filtered there, moulded and remoulded there but is never unchanging and is never entirely one’s own. Might be one of the reasons I continue to study as I’d like to keep it moving at my own personal pace. Maybe I’m trying to outrun myself?

Since December 15th I’ve been on holiday and have digested two reams of data preparing for a contract as Senior Consultant for an APEC research project on Korean Food Logistics and Supply Chain to answer the question, “Can food prices be reduced?” However notification of acceptance has not arrived yet and proposal start date is approaching. It may never arrive. At the same time I consumed 355 pages of large binder text (written by lawyers) for a Canadian Forum of International Trade Training course in Legal Aspects of International Trade and am preparing for a three hour multiple choice exam on it.

Since you are reading about culture I thought you would appreciate reading these three papers as I thought they were some of the best I’ve read this holiday and while not specifically on culture fill in a lot of local blanks on cultural influences. I am attaching them as links to Asian Perspective.

Kiseon Chung and Hyun Choe (2008) South Korean National Pride: Determinants, Changes and Suggestions. I liked this one because it explores age differences.

Scott Snyder (2008) The Future of US-ROK Relations: The US Approach. Snyder is a great writer.

Martin Hart-Landsberg (2004) The South Korean Economy and US Policy. It makes Lee Myung Bak appear somewhat like a martyr.


PAKA said...

great posting. very amusing...esp. that part about your mom.

Daniel Costello said...

How are you doing?