Building Cross-Cultural Competence


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How to Create Wealth from Conflicting Values

Charles M. Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars; Illustrations by David Lewis

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Cross-cultural competence is a skill that has become increasingly essential for the managers in multinational companies. For other business people, this kind of competence may spell the difference between surviving and perishing in the new global economy. This book focuses on the dilemmas of these managers and offers constructive advice on dealing with culture shock and turning it to business advantage. Opposing values can be understood as complementary and reconcilable, say Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars. A manager who concentrates on integrating rather than polarizing values will make much better business decisions. Furthermore, the authors show, wealth is actually created by reconciling values-in-conflict.

Based on fourteen years of research involving nearly 50,000 managerial respondents and on the authors’ extensive experience in international business, the book compares American cultural values to those of more than forty other nations. It explores six culture-defining dimensions and their reverse images (universalism-particularism, individualism-communitarianism, specificity-diffusion, achieved status–ascribed status, inner direction–outer direction, and sequential time–synchronous time) and discusses them as alternative ways of coping with life’s—and business’s—exigencies. With humor, cartoons, and an array of business examples, the authors demonstrate how the reconciliation of cultural differences can cause whole organizations to grow healthier, wealthier, and wiser.

Charles M. Hampden-Turner is senior research associate at the Judge Institute of Management Studies, Cambridge University. He is director of research and development and Fons Trompenaars is president of Trompenaars-Hampden-Turner Group, a cross-cultural consulting and training company based in Amsterdam. Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars are coauthors of The Seven Cultures of Capitalism and Riding the Waves of Culture.

"The extraordinary paradox in the work of Charles Hampden-Turner and his fellow author is that it is both original and worthwhile. Their analysis of the conflicts which create wealth is worthy of Machiavelli’s The Prince, but the gain is for all divergent societies."—Andrew Sinclair, author of Che Guevara and A Concise History of the United States

"It’s a remarkable combination of intellectual theory and practical advice which must be invaluable to any businessman trying to comprehend the complexity of the global market-place. It brings together highly topical corporate problems and examples with a profound knowledge of philosophical and literary ideas, with all the learning of a well-stocked mind. . . . I’ve no doubt that it will have an important influence on management thinking."—Anthony Sampson, author of Mandela and Company Man

“An entertaining and erudite book. The stories are fascinating and well written. Clearly, in a world of increasing globalization in which more and more managers are likely to be struggling with conflicts between their 'home' culture and the cultural values of their extending markets, . . . the techniques of dilemma resolution. . . . should help managers to make a success of their company’s moves towards globalization. . . . With proper understanding of Hampden-Turner’s concepts and of Trompenaars rich research findings, many a manager could prevent disastrous decisions to be taken and would be creating real values by going for 'and-and' solutions.”—Arie de Geus author, The Living Company

"This is one of the most enlightening and creative analyses of national culture I have read. Every businessman should become aware of the important dimensions that the authors use. The model of reconciling seemingly conflicting values is well thought out and beautifully illustrated with cases and stories. An absolutely fascinating book."—Edgar H. Schein, Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School

"Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars here provide business managers with a unique and indispensable way of understanding and managing the tensions of globalization... As the world’s cultures become increasingly homogenized, it is more important than ever to understand what separates them. Old ways die hard and spawn ghosts that can destroy the effectiveness of organizations. Written beautifully with a touch that is as light as it is sure, this book is a joy to read."—George C. Lodge, Harvard Business School

"A fascinating work which illuminates new and valuable perspectives on our behavioural patterns—individual and collective, informative and useful. Building Cross-Cultural Competence provides a higher level of understanding and a guide to practical actions. Highly recommended for those seeking to understand, and to benefit from, a deeper understanding of cultural adversity and change in a complex world."—Mark Haynes Daniell, Managing Director, Bain & Company (Asia), Inc.

Building Cross-Cultural Competence was an enormous help in my class because of the way it balances practical advice with thoughtful analysis. I recommend the book for use in graduate classrooms as a useful tool for decoding the puzzles of intercultural relations.”—Michelle LeBaron, Professor of Law, University of British Columbia, Canada and Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

"Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaaars have done it again. Every global manager will have so much to learn from their latest beautifully illustrated and deeply researched exploration into transcultural competences and conflicting values.”—Napier Collyns, Global Business Network

"Growth in business and the economy come from innovation - from solving old problems in new ways and finding wholly new problems to solve. In an increasingly globalizing world innovation comes from the creative tensions of organizations that cut across the diverse cultures of the world. Charles Hampden-Turner and Fons Trompenaars provide an insightful, practical and witty guide to working and managing in the multi-cultural global organization. They help us understand and value diversity as well as capture its unique economic value."—Peter Schwartz, Global Business Network

"Beautifully written and well organized. . . . It initiates a new category of cultural studies."—Russell L. Ackoff, Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School and author of Creating the Corporate Future

“An important book . . . illuminates the darkness around the elusive concept of ‘culture’ with a rich theoretical texture, and with powerful illustrations. On top of that it is written with wit and brio . . . thoroughly engaging.”—Warren Bennis, author of On Becoming a Leader and Organizing Genius

ISBN: 9780300084979
Publication Date: October 11, 2000
400 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
163 b/w illus.

Sales Restrictions: World excluding the United Kingdom and Commonwealth