24 november 2005

What creatures are "Belgians"?

After last week's lecture, a student came to see me. She had an article with her from her local newspaper. The article is about how foreigners look at Belgians. Here is the English summary:

  • Belgians have a mentality of "I don't care";
  • Belgians are independent, but always try to get rid of responsibilities;
  • Germans and French people know that the Belgians are pro-European, but are also afraid of non-European cultures;
  • British people know that Belgians are very proud of their houses;
  • Americans think Belgians are reliable and practical people.

This is not how Belgians see themselves. It's how foreigners see Belgians. Do you agree? Or (being a decent Belgian) don't you care?

21 november 2005

Integration: Indonesian culture

The linklist beneath is on Indonesian culture. With these links you will have a good starting point of getting into this country. I only miss one category (which I liked e.g. with South-Africa): some links on business communication/habits. But maybe these can be retrieved from the other information.

De algemene gegevens Indonesië

Economische situatie

Demografische gegevens

Network Indonesia - Culture - History of Indonesia
Explore Indonesia..!! :: The Official Site of Indonesia Culture and Tourism Board
Indonesia WWW Virtual Library
Welcome to My Indonesia
Indonesie Cultuur - Indonesie.nl
WWW-VL History Index. Indonesia
Mark Moxon, Travel Writer: Indonesia: Indonesian Habits
Dicover Indonesia : Home Page
The Impact of Indonesian culture on Human Resources Management [Archive] - Kaskus - The Largest Indonesian Community
Netherlands, Indonesia, Hybrid of Cultures
indahnesia.com - Indonesia - Country of 230 milion people, 15000 islands and 400 languages - Discover Indonesia Online
Indonesians - Culture - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Network Indonesia - Culture - History of Indonesia
History Page - including background and general information
Indonesia country, cultural and history information


Integration: South African culture

I received a linklist of the "South African group".
I guess you have the most important information to describe the culture. What is very useful for your integration task are the links about South African business etiquette. Try to focus on these, but try not to forget the other aspects, of course...


South Africa Business Etiquette
http://www.executiveplanet.com/business-etiquette/South+Africa.html (Good)

Network contacts
http://pretoria.usembassy.gov/wwwhfaq.html (Good)

Arts and culture
http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/consulate/arts.htm (Good for Dance, music, religion, …)
Zalige economice (NERD) site: (Click to “publications”)
Appearance, communications, culture, Religion
History & People, Location, Geography, & Climate

Very Good links
http://www.businessculture.com/southafrica/ (Als je een groot budget hebt :D )
South Africa large country study
Elements of Successful Cultural Adaptation and Adjustment
http://aol.countrywatch.com/aol_topic.asp?vCOUNTRY=159&SECTION=APP&TOPIC=CDATA&TYPE=APPEN (Good)
A bit ICT development

Geert Hofstede™ Cultural Dimensions

Integration: Mexican culture

Although you could say and write a lot on Mexican culture, I would prefer a description that is not too long. What is interesting about Mexican culture is the mixture of Spanish and local history and habits. What exactly is Spanish about it? Where can you find the local things? How is that reflected in business communication?

Good preparatory work, needs a bit more being worked out and a bit more focus on business issues: e.g. why is reliability so important to a Mexican businessman?

Integration: Thai culture

I've started reading your preparatory work for the integration tasks. The remarks about the tasks could be enlightening for all of you, so that is why I put them on the blog. If you would like to add comments or additional material, please feel free to do so.

The group that is working on Thailand did a great job on describing the material they collected. From an overall point of view, we have enough information about Thailand. When you start processing the material (and I have pointed this out already in class), try to bear in mind what is really important in business communication. Both business and communication are equally important: whereas an overall overview of Thai culture (including e.g. the explanation of Thai chess) is useful, you could also focus on typical Thai habits that are important in business relations, especially on those habits that are quite unusual to our culture (e.g. the wai).

Lecture 8: Framework for assessing culture

This lecture is based on this article by Michael McGinnis about the integration of Geert Hofstede's framework into cross-cultural negotiations situations.

Four dimensions:
1. Individualism - Collectivism
- individualistic societies: stress on individual independence (e.g. US)
- collectivistic societies: group is responsible for the individual (e.g. Japan)
- individualistic: stress on short term, extreme offers
- collectivistic: stress on long term, realistic offer

2. Power Distance
- Is power distributed (un)equally?
- high power distance: little consultation between superiors and subordinates
- low power distance: more cooperation between "leaders" and "followers" (these roles could shift...)

3. Masculinity - Femininity
- masculine society: money and things - tangible (e.g. Japan)
- feminine society: relationships and quality of life - intangible (e.g. Finland)

4. Uncertainty avoidance
- high uncertainty avoidance: stability, structure and precise managerial direction (e.g. Greece)
- low uncertainty avoidance: ambiguity, unstructured situations, broad managerial guidance (e.g. Hong Kong)

For all of these dimensions, you could ask a few questions (feel free to add answers in the comments):
- What possible problems could you encounter in negotiations when two people of a different kind of culture are trying to reach an agreement?
- What kind of culture is your own culture?
- Could this framework work? Why (not)?
- Why is it important to have a framework? Could you possibly do without?