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Managing Cultural Differences: Leadership Strategies for a New World of Business [Hardcover]

Philip R. Harris , Robert T. Moran Ph.D.


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Managing Cultural Differences Managing Cultural Differences
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Book Description

25 Mar 1996 0884154653 978-0884154655 4
Make no mistakes. Here is the original, best-selling guide to developing cross-cultural skills now revised for the new millennium. Adopted by more than 200 universities worldwide and praised as a "bible of multiculturalism" (New York Times News Service), it has been the premier source of information on the dynamics of culture and business since 1979.

While retaining the wisdom of the past versions, it adds leading-edge insights on the work culture and globalization in the Information Age. A new chapter addresses issues relating to women in global business.

Easy-to-read case histories, illustrations, exhibits, and country profiles supply guidelines to improve leadership skills for dealing with globalization, communications, negotiations and strategic alliances, cultural changes, cultural synergy, and diversity in the workplace. Professors and trainers will benefit from the reorganized companion Instructor's Guide

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'...a terrific springboard for understanding the complexities, challenges, and rewards of running global operations... 'Managing Cultural Differences' is not only relevant and current, it is prophetic. And it's a good read!'
J.T.Battenberg III Chairman of the Board/CEO Delphi Automotive Systems.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Dr. Philip R. Harris is President of Harris International, Ltd. in LaJolla, California. He is Series Editor of the Managing Cultural Differences Series and co-author of B-H books Managing Cultural Differences, Multicultural Management 2000, and Transcultural Leadership. He is on the advisory board of the European Business Review.

Robert Moran, Ph.D., is a Professor of Global Management, Emeritus at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, USA.

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As we begin the new millennium, the process of globalization is quickening. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important and helpful information, mediocre execution 19 Dec 2000
By J. G. Heiser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Professor Moran's class at the American Gaduate School of International Management is one of the more memorable experiences at that unique multinational training institution. While the school draws students from throughout the world, as an American, I feel justified in admitting that those who grow up in the United States are generally poorly prepared for cross-cultural relationships. Although the lessons I learned in that course have held me in good stead throughout my career and personal life, parts of it were a struggle. So is it with the latest edition of the course's text book.
A clue to this can be found on the title page which, in place of an editor, lists an "Editorial Coordinator." This book could benefit from some serious editorial rigor. It is marred by many typos, including such unfortunate ones as, "the Qur'an, the scared book of Muslims." Virtually every page has a totally useless pullout, quoting some profound phrase from that page. Selectively used, pullouts are supposed to increase the reader's interest in the material, but when it is carried to this extreme, it just wastes margin space that could otherwise be used for jotting down notes. One short but deadly paragraph manages to use the buzzwords 'empowered,' 'actualize, 'synergy,' and 'connect', which a good editor would have surgically removed. In spite of these execution flaws, I do feel that the book has merit, and recommend it for those who are interested in being more effective in cross-cultural situations.
The book is divided into three units. Curiously enough, the first two units both have the same title, "Cultural Impacts on Global Management." The first cultural impacts unit begins with an introduction building the case for greater cross-cultural skills on the part of managers. It concentrates on the particular problems that American managers have working outside of their culture. The chapter on communications starts getting into some real meat, introducing concepts such as communication context. Anthropologist Edward Hall's illuminating concept of high -- context vs. low -- context communications is described here, and used throughout the book. (This concept was particularly significant to me, and I have also reviewed Hall's book, "Beyond Culture," on Amazon.) The chapter continues with descriptions of important communication conventions that differ between cultures, and concludes with a set of practical guidelines on how best to make yourself understood when speaking with people whose native language is not your own. The unit continues with some management cultural ideas that are not necessarily limited to multi-ethnic situations, but are applicable to any large organization. This was interesting to me, although it is oriented specifically towards managers who have direct reports.
The second cultural impacts unit begins with a section on common characteristics that typically vary from culture to culture, such as appearance, food, sense of self, beliefs, and time of consciousness. The concepts discussed here are applied in the final section of book, so this provides important background information. The unit includes a section on culture shock, and re-entry shock, which should be mandatory reading for all overseas assignees and their managers. I found a checklist of desirable characteristics for foreign employment candidates especially useful, and several of the expatriates I work with agreed that it was consistent with what they had observed. This is followed by a very nuts and bolts section on preparing people for international assignments. The next chapter is entitled "Managing Diversity in the Global Work Culture." I have to say that I found the book to have a persistent politically correct theme, and I'm not sure that it is necessary to constantly harp on the value of diversity. This was a very popular HR activity at the time this book was written, but I found it distracting.
The final unit, which at 200 pages amounts to one-half of the book, is entitled "Culture Specifics and Business/Service Abroad." Choosing several representative cultures in each continent, it provides detailed discussions on their unique characteristics, along with helpful tips on dealing with people within that culture. This is similar to those books you may have read on "how to deal with X," but unlike those books, it is built on a strong foundation of sociological, anthropological, and organizational behavior disciplines that are introduced in the first two units.
Interestingly, the first chapter is on doing business with North Americans, which through self reflection, can help American readers better understand what it is like to look at a culture from the outside. I'm sure the chapter would also be helpful to non-American readers, but the book is generally aimed at North Americans. While constantly pointing out how important it is to avoid generalizations, each one of the individual cultural studies contains information on the people within those cultures that could be considered just that. One of the balances that I was never able to manage in professor Moran's class, was maintaining a safe distance between sensitivity and prejudice. Attempting to apply these lessons over 15 years, I've learned that cultural sensitivity can help you understand why someone acts in a particular way, and it can also help you anticipate their feelings or reactions, allowing you to better connect with them. The trick is in avoiding either value judgments, or in assuming that cultural guidelines will always be predictive. This helps explain why it is difficult in a book like this to highlight cultural characteristics that may be considered negative. Continuing their politically correct agenda, the authors identify several cultures as being "hard working." No culture was identified as being lazy, so presumably everyone is above average. A difficult balance, but a necessary one.
Such a whirlwind tour really obviously can't do justice to an entire world. It isn't meant to cover the entire world--it is meant to help you apply the lessons in the book yourself, and it succeeds. Although the treatment of various cultures is somewhat uneven, I did find this a very useful and helpful unit, and I will keep if for reference. I do think there are many flaws in this book, and I don't find it particularly easy to read, but in spite of that, I strongly recommend it for everyone who finds themselves in a multi-cultural situation. If you will be dealing with a multi-cultural environment, I recommend reading this book first, and then finding several books on the specific culture you will be exposed to. I highly recommend also finding the time to read Edward Hall. He's entertaining and enlightening.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Value for Students 27 July 2004
By David C. Wigglesworth, Ph.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the first edition of this work, the authors proffer an expanded version of a text that has come to be regarded as a classic reference work by students everywhere. Their message is still the same, the understanding of our differences, the celebration of diversity, and the creation of partnerships of long-term benefit.

While many of the chapter headings are still the same or similar, considerable content has been added and the emphasis in the first half of the book is on providing information to enhance the building of global leadership strategies. We see the reemphasis on the development of cross-cultural communication skills and their presentation of both the positive techniques and the pitfalls to avoid.

Much of the thrust of the first half of the book is on cultural synergy which they view as representing a dynamic process that involves adapting and learning, and which involves joint action in which the total effect is greater than the sum of effects when acting independently. Synergy to them creates an integrated solution that does not signify compromise because nothing is given up or lost and it develops the potential members by facilitating the release of team energies..

The remainder of the first half of this text looks at managing transitions and relocations, an all too short chapter on managing diversity in the global workforce, women in global business, and effective performance in the global marketplace.

This latter chapter on effective performance in the global marketplace addresses issues of global leaders and strategic alliances, the psychological dimensions involved in intercultural contracting, the development of human resources, the essential factors of global performance, integrity in business organizations, ethical relativism, cultural changes that are occurring in many countries, and the management of technology transfer.

What puzzled me is that in the entire first section there is only one quotation from Fons Trompenaars and his name never even made it to the index. There are four plus pages on Hofstede's early work and his name can be found in the index.

That aside, for a book that is focusing on global leadership strategies for the 21st century to omit any mention or analysis of Trompenaars seven dimensions and the ground breaking work that he has done seems, to put it mildly, somewhat strange. There would seem to be a need for today's readers to go beyond Hofstede and to transition into the data base and findings of Trompenaars research and its application for effective global strategies.

Further to this, in their discussion of cultural synergy, there is no mention of the Trompenaars/Hampden-Turner concept of reconciliation. To achieve the true culturally integrated solution that the authors are promulgating would seem to require a reconciliation approach such as can be found in Trompenaars/Hampden-Turner's writings.

The second half of Managing Cultural Differences provides data on regional cultural specifics and addresses doing business with North Americans, Latin Americans, Asians and Australians, Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Africans. In these sections, not all countries are considered but for those that are included there is a rich data base and keen insights of considerable benefit.

Overall, this is a good book and judging by previous editions, is one that will be of great value to students keen on understanding the world around them.

David C. Wigglesworth an intercultural/international management, organization, and human resource consultant is president of D.C.W. Research Associates International, 2606 Parkdale Drive, Kingwood, Texas 77339-2476 USA. Tel: 281-359-4234. Email: dcwigg@earthlink.net
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting profitable with a little investment. 18 Jun 2002
By Edwin Carcao Guerra - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
These book will help the executives of your company or under your command to climb cultural walls and make successful negotiations with businessman's overseas. Also it will help understanding other cultures and becoming more culturally humble: much of the problems we have today as humans rely on the egocentric way we see the world, a lot of problems would disappear if we could just sit on a table and learn the way others think. A most read for international sales managers and embassy personal. Enjoy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Reference book for Cross-cultural Affairs 3 April 2006
By Carolin Heldt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The book "Managging Cultural Differences" is a very good reference book for cross-cultural affairs. First of all, the book creates awareness about culture and subsequent cultural differences in an increasingly global world. It also offers the reader an introduction to the concepts of culture and beliefs and most importantly gives a guide on how to behave in foreign countries.

"Managing Cultural Differences" has helped me many times in business, for travels as well as my private life. I use my copy as a reference book.

The best benefit of the book is probably not only the cross-cultural guide but also the explanation of abstract concepts, their theoretical backgrounds and the practical implications thereof. The book also gives suggestions for further readings.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book on the Most-Overlooked Facet of Business Today: Cultural Differences 3 April 2006
By E. S. Wibbeke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a cross-cultural consultant and graduate business professor, I highly recommend the sixth edition of the MCD book by Harris, Moran, and Moran. I currently utilize the new edition in both my online and onground MBA courses which deal primarily with international management and leadership issues.

The authors had cohesively distilled the topics of business, culture, and management into a readable and usable text that is easily interpreted by students, undergraduates included.

I have followed the authors' work on this series for the past 10 years and have seen nothing but the most relevant information being added to the subsequent editions.

As a consultant and an educator, I recommend the sixth edition of the MCD books without reservation. They are essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the integral effects on culture in this era of globalization.

- Dr. Eileen Sheridan Wibbeke

San Jose, California, USA
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