The fusion of know-how and style
Upon the mention of intercultural management in managerial circles, many believe that one wants to learn about Chinese table manners and the presentation of visiting cards in Japan. And at the same time many of us Austrians are confronted with much more complex intercultural problems since the fall of the iron curtain, only a little over 15 years ago.
What does it take to be at the forefront of market competition in East/West cooperation?
What the Eastern partners are learning quickest and where the difference is diminishing every day, is all things technical. Our personnel in Dnjepropetrovsk, for instance, are on the same rank as our EDV-Experts in Vienna. The language and the software are the same. Our neighbours are showing similar development in marketing and sales. In finance management there is still plenty of catching up to do and the situation in personnel management is rather difficult. Here many old bad habits remain, such as for example widespread nepotism in allocation of positions, like with us in politics. The value systems, for instance the question of »What does work mean for you?« can be light years away from our own business ideology.
Indeed, when someone says the word »businessman« in accentfree English and not in the Russian Kalashnikov version with a deep »u« through pursed lips and the »a« held for too long, then it does not by a long way mean that he understands the same meaning as us. Words can be quickly learned, the meaning is more difficult and the practical application most difficult of all. Thus careful consideration of meaning is desirable in every case.
If it is not about »what« we say but about »how« we deal with each other on a personal basis, then it gets really difficult. The widespread lack of time invested in compensating for cultural differences is the cause of most of the commercial flops in Central and especially Eastern Europe (from the Ukraine eastwards).
The three factors of creating a proper business climate are the same around the world: empathy, acceptance of difference, and authenticity (concord). This therapeutic wisdom of the great psychotherapist Carl Rogers can be practiced. Every minute invested in this direction helps to reduce cultural chasms and pays for itself many times over.