Recommended reading: Country-/culture-specific

Please also read the general notes on our recommended readings, on the contents of the various categories, and on the rating system. Other categories:

Mind Your Manners: Managing Business Cultures in Europe
Author(s): John Mole;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | Amazon.com (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (May, 1996)
  • ISBN: 1857880854

Content keywords:
  • Business/Cross-cultural management
  • Management and business communication in Europe
  • Leadership and organisation style (diverse European)
  • Cross-cultural management and communication style: Russians, Japanese, and Americans in Europe
  • Multicultural organisation and leadership in Europe
Our review:

This is a highly readable and practical guide to understanding European business culture in general contrast to other major models of business cultures, such as the American and Japanese. At the same time, it provides insight into the diversity of business cultures and business communication styles within Europe itself. Each section presents a compact and precise summary of historical and social that is the basis of crucial issues in cross-cultural interaction in the global workplace, such as communication behaviour, leadership, decision-making, meetings, teamwork, and networking.

Whether one is a manager, project leader, or member of a multicultural work group, the 2 most common mistakes made by individuals working in a multicultural environment are 1) they misunderstand or misinterpret behavioural and communication differences they encounter, or 2) they react over-sensitively or defensively. Either way, the lack of knowledge and understanding reduces effectiveness and contributes to confrontation.

This book provides the reader with an accessible introduction to cross-cultural management and communication issues that at the same time avoids over-simplifying profound cultural differences. As such, it is highly recommended reading for the newcomer to the topic.

Country reference:

  • France, Germany, U.K
  • Italy, Spain, Greece
  • Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg
  • Russia
  • United States
  • Japan
Readability: easy

Practical application:

  • background reference * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: none
  • tools, checklists : some

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen


Lanterns on the River
Author(s): Diane M. Hoffman;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | Amazon.com (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Lexington Books (22 July, 1999)
  • ISBN: 0739100742

Content keywords:
  • Social life and customs
  • History and civilisation (Korea)
  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Psychocultural studies
Our review:

Recommended reading for those who are interested in intensifying their background knowledge of key Korean cultural concepts. The author provides an in-depth exploration of cultural differences between contemporary Korea and mainstream contemporary culture in the U.S.

While the author comes from an academic background, this does not read like conventional academic reference material. A reflection of the author's personal experiences with the every-day, sometimes even mundane elements of life in Korea, the different themes described mirror the differences between both sides, which extend deeply into the realms of values, ideals and fundamental cultural orientations.

In addition to exploring characteristic Korean cultural themes such as the emotional self, national cultural identity, 'face' and public behaviour, relationship to foreign outgroups, the Korean psychology of gender, and the East-West synthesis of Western values and practices within a Korean culture framework, the author also offers an excellent analysis of the fundamental differences in Japanese and Korean social life. In this latter chapter for example, using two unique cultural artifacts, the Japanese tatami and the Korean ondol, the author guides the reader deep into the core of each country's 'cultural onion', showing how they embody and communicate the essence of Japanese and Korean life.

Due to the author's own extensive personal experience with Japan and Korea, these discerning contrasts between two fundamentally different worldviews inevitably punctuate the narration, and add another comparative component to a larger East-West cultural gap. These provide sudden windows into profound and subtle differences in the colour and flavour of social life, despite basic shared similarities in the configuration of social values, practices and structures.

Country reference: Korea, Japan

Readability: moderately difficult

Practical application:

  • background reference: * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: * * * * */2
  • tools, checklists: none

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen


Understanding Cultural Differences: Germans, French, and Americans
Author(s): Edward Twitchell Hall;Mildred Reed Hall;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | Amazon.com (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Intercultural Press (March, 1990)
  • ISBN: 1877864072

Content keywords:
  • International management
  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Industrial management (U.S.A., France, Germany)
  • National characteristics (U.S.A., France, Germany)
  • International negotiating
  • Intercultural personnel issues
  • International business communication
  • Developing international business strategies
Our review:

A very insightful and readable analysis of the cultural contexts that contribute to misunderstandings in the communication between the business personnel of these countries, 'Understanding Cultural Differences: Germans, French and Americans' offers practical advice on how to manage day-to-day transactions in the international business environment.

Elaborating here on the key concepts of intercultural communication explored in their classic research works, the Halls bring into focus those culturally different patterns of thought and behaviour particularly relevant to the international CEO and company director. Part 1 introduces readers to the underlying values system in different cultures, providing a foundation or context for behaviour. Parts 2-4 describe and contrast the psychology behind the basic patterns that characterise how the French, Germans and Americans conduct business. In today's global business arena, an informed CEO is the crucial link to both the short- and long-term performance of his enterprise. If he does not recognise and practise the value of cross-cultural communication skills, no one else will.

The vast majority of examples and mini-case studies deal with a variety of topics relevant to day-to-day international business interactions, such as styles of decision-making, rules for negotiating, time management, dealing with hierarchies, presentation styles, verbal and non-verbal communication style in meetings, management style, employee expectations, information flow, promoting corporate image and advertising strategies, etc. Each section is summarised with a substantive list of practical advice for 'doing business' with the country in question.

While this book is obviously aimed at the international businessperson, it is nonetheless a rich resource for anyone whose professional or private life involves daily interaction with persons from different cultures: officials in government or private organisations, teachers who work with foreign students or teach a foreign language, project leaders of a multinational workforce, students preparing to go abroad for a work internship, executives preparing for foreign assignments, or just ordinary people whose activities and interests bring them regularly into contact with people whose cultural or ethnic backgrounds are different from their own!

Country reference:

  • Germany
  • France
  • U.S.A.
Readability: easy

Practical application:

  • background reference: * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: * * * *
  • tools, checklists: * * * * *

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen


Into Africa: Intercultural Insights (Interact Series)
Author(s): Yale Richmond;Phyllis Gestrin;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | Amazon.com (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Intercultural Press (May, 1998)
  • ISBN: 1877864579

Content keywords:
  • African, sub-Saharan African social life and customs
  • Business interaction
  • Intercultural communication
  • Tips for travels
  • Tips for businesspersons
  • Regional differences
  • Communication style
Our review:

This book is as close to a handbook for first time or relative newcomers to intercultural interaction with Africans in business as you will likely find. Those who intend on advising, consulting, doing business, working, studying, or merely travelling will benefit highly from understanding the customs and culture of the people they will met and why they behave as they do.

Very much recognising the absence of a "typical" African, the authors nonetheless provide a comprehensive and detailed framework of key differences in cultural values orientation shared across the continent, and their direct manifestation in typical business and personal encounters. For maximum effectiveness and usability for the reader, the authors focuses on the similarities that unifies the vast cultural spread of the continent, and at the same time on the widest cultural gaps between Africa and North American/Europe.

The entertaining narrative style, similar to that of the other culture-specific volumes on the InterAct Series published by Intercultural Press, covers communal and social structures, business and workplace management, and distinctive cultural and communication characteristics of Africa's principal regions. Highlighting those concepts and values that create the potentially most serious stumbling block for the visitor, the narrative is chock full of anecdotes, longer and more detailed examples that identify the misunderstandings created by the cultural gap, and their implications for Westerners in general or Western business people. Especially the the section on "Doing Business" is rich in practical tips, advice and useable guidelines in how to prevent unnecessary barriers and solve problems when they occur.

Included is a chapter on educational and training issues which will be of particular interest to persons working with developmental agencies in Africa.

Country reference:

  • Africa
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
Readability: easy

Practical application:

  • background reference * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: yes
  • tools, checklists : yes

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen


Au Contraire! Figuring Out The French
Author(s): Gilles Asselin;Ruth Mastron;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | Amazon.com (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Intercultural Press (01 January, 2001)
  • ISBN: 187786482X

Content keywords:
  • National French characteristics
  • French social life and customs
  • French-American cross-cultural management
  • French-American cross-cultural business communication
Our review:

This highly readable guide is recommended as basic reading for students of intercultural communication and those fundamental cultural forces that specifically govern French-American cross-cultural relations. The authors, a French-American team of trainers and consultants, provide a very concise and structured overview of the most important hidden cultural core concepts that often emerge when French and Americans come together, leading to misunderstandings and frustrations on both sides. Drawing from examples in family life, social circles as well as business, the authors explore the basic beliefs, assumptions and values behind the French orientation to the individual's role in family and society; the importance of personal networks or "webs" in all layers of French life; the power of Cartesian logic behind French thinking style and dialogue, just to name a few.

These differences provide a context for classic French-American cross-cultural clashes when these two groups engage in dialogue. Especially in the workplace, an awareness of and ability to manage cultural distance are vital in terms of how each culture approaches such basic elements of project collaboration as team work, sharing information, debating procedure, making decisions, and building networks of personal relationships.

This cultural context also provides perspective on where and why multinational mergers and international partnerships often fail, though many of the cultural barriers they encounter are entirely predictable and preventable. In an in-depth case study analysis of how the French-American pharmaceutical giant Rhone-Poulenc Rorer anticipated and overcame post-merger challenges, the authors take a look at how a consistent and committed long-term strategy to support the cultural change process at all levels of the company and in all aspects of its operations successfully harnessed the potential of both business cultures while fostering cross-cultural synergy.

As any culture-specific book should do, this text provides the reader with a foundation of key core cultural concepts, and the uniquely French "logic" that emerges from them. Nonetheless, students of intercultural communication will inevitably recognise key cultural orientations that are shared with more "exotic" cultural groupings such as North East and South east Asia, Africa, Central/South America and elsewhere in Southern Europe, which underlines a central reality in cultural studies: geographic proximity does not automatically conclude shared cultural values and communication norms. Certainly, this book provides lucid insight into the specific contours of the French communicator, but it contributes as much to a wider context of cross-cultural communication dynamics.

Country reference: France

Readability: moderately easy

Practical application:

  • background reference: * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: * * *
  • professional guidelines: * * * *

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen


Learning to Think Korean: A Guide to Living and Working in Korea (The Interact Series)
Author(s): L. Robert Kohls;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | Amazon.com (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Intercultural Press (September, 2001)
  • ISBN: 1877864870

Content keywords:
  • National characteristics (Korean)
  • Korean/U.S. cross-cultural studies
  • Cross-cultural management
  • Cultural communication characteristics (Korean, U.S., Western)
  • International negotiation and strategies
  • Personnel issues
  • Communication management in the workplace
Our review:

The key to successful interaction with cultures very divergent from one's own is preparing oneself for the least expected surprises. A leading interculturalist whose personal experience with Korea spans more than 50 years, the author provides here an insightful, useable guide to those Korean values - traditional and changing - of which an understanding is crucial to unravelling the most puzzling aspects of Korean cultural behaviour and communication. This book is highly recommended to especially Westerners who are approaching the East Asian cultures for the first time.

The book is extremely readable, never getting overly involved in the classic theoretical vocabulary of intercultural cultural studies. The narrative style is anecdotal, always with an eye on identifying typical every-day barriers and misunderstandings between Koreans and Westerners and providing practical tips and guidelines on how to competently manage even the most challenging barriers.

Mini-case studies, examples and substantive critical incidents explore the traditional collectivist and Confucian principles of hierarchy, morality-based social order, interpersonal harmony, strict etiquette of proper behaviour, ingroup/outgroup distinctions, and the obligations to 'face'. The author de-mystifies many of the most common catch-phrases Westerners associate with East Asian cultural behaviour and have only the vaguest notion of how they work.

Equally important to an understanding of 'Korean logic', the most fundamentally Confucian of all the modern East Asian cultures, is to contrast it with the cultural 'givens' of Western thinking. Given the considerable cultural differences and variations that exist among Western countries (as they do equally in Asia), the author specifically highlights those most divergent cultural values from the Korean - traditional American individualism, flat hierarchy, immutable empirical truths and fair play - which result in typical characteristics of communication, such as rational cause-and-effect reasoning, direct modes and open channels of discussion and debate, more relaxed interpersonal interaction, individual initiative, fact- and goal-oriented verbal communication, etc.

As an invaluable guide to living and working in Korea, the latter half of the book is a detailed look at the impact of the most different Korean cultural values on communication and behaviour in the workplace. These include establishing and building on initial contacts with prospective partners, negotiating with Koreans, resolving impasses, managing a Korean office, networking, key Korean business relationships (the mediator, government officials), dealing with Korean persistence and stubbornness, etc.

Country reference: Korea

Readability: easy

Practical application:

  • background reference: * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: * * * *
  • tools, checklists * * * *

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen


NTC's Dictionary of Korea's Business and Cultural Code Words
Author(s): Boye Lafayette De Mente;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | Amazon.com (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill (11 August, 1998)
  • ISBN: 0844283622

Content keywords:
  • Social life and customs
  • Korean language: terms and phrases
  • Cultural code words
  • Cultural background (Korea)
Our review:

Just one of several practical East Asian cross-cultural studies and guides by the same author, this is one in a series of other dictionaries of 'cultural code words' and an excellent source book to the key values concept and terminology that express how Koreans think, communicate and behave.

231 'culture-laden' Korean words are listed alphabetically, with an additional guide to key cultural themes such as business morality and practices, culture and customs, communication and consensus-building, hospitality, eating and drinking, philosophical beliefs and practices, etc. Each entry provides a concise cultural background for each word, how that aspect of Korean culture influences business behaviour, where the Korean value or practice is likely to clash the loudest with foreign partners, and realistic solutions for coping with or overcoming barriers. Words cover the range of Kyosop (Korean Negotiating), Kibun (Feelings Come First), Ne-Anio (Yes and No), Sagwa (The Role of Apology), Sogaejang (Letters of Introduction), Chongmal (The Colour of Truth) and Chae-myun (Saving Everbody's Face).

This and the other volumes of the series are indispensable tools to supplement any deeper study of East Asian cultural background and key concepts which impact communication behaviour.

Country reference: Korea

Readability: easy

Practical application:

  • background reference: * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: * * *
  • tools, checklists: * *

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen


Korean Etiquette and Ethics in Business
Author(s): Boye De Mente;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | Amazon.com (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Company (September, 1994)
  • ISBN: 0844285234

Content keywords:
  • Business ethics (Korea)
  • Business etiquette (Korea)
  • National characteristics (Korea)
  • International management (South Korea)
Our review:

This is an excellent short guide for especially Western businesspeople and companies considering a move into the Korean market. A short book (69 pages), it nonetheless provides a comprehensive point-by-point overview of the psychology of Koreans and some techniques for dealing with those individuals on many levels in a variety of government ministries or agencies, who facilitate every aspect of doing business in Korea.

In view of the fact that the Korean business arena is coupled with the government apparatus, foreign businesses encounter several specific technical problems when first approaching Korea. These include the nature of Korean bureaucracy, the overall government policy in promoting economic growth and developing a national infrastructure, and what ethical or legal systems the Western professional can or cannot expect (such as contracts, patents, copyrights, etc.) from it.

The book specifically addresses those problems relevant to joint venture companies wanting to invest in or import into Korea, such as eligibility and approval requirements and restrictions on remittances of investments; current tax exemption options; protection of proprietary rights; strict licensing regulations applicable to anything other than raw materials for manufacturing operations; and payment problems, etc. An unexpected problem that underscores the personal basis on which Korea business is conducted are the extraordinary demands often made on foreign companies for 'donations' to the Korean government.

The message is clear that Westerners who, unprepared, typically maneuver themselves into situations in which they pit their reputation and way against the Korean government or the Korean way of doing things, face a no-win situation

Complicating the technical challenges is the communication problem. The author consolidates several key cultural concepts unique to the Korean character and communication behaviour. These include navigating the intricate and delicate emotional nature of Korean business, and therefore adjusting to a completely personal approach to business where the conventional tools and principles that govern Western negotiating and problem-solving (e.g. rational, fact-based reasoning, open argumentative and confrontational discussion, brainstorming, fair play, majority rule decision-making, etc.) are not only ineffective but potentially counter-productive.

Ultimately, adapting to the Korean business environment presents considerable barriers to foreign businesspeople, not necessarily because the elements of cultural difference are insurmountable but because they are too often naively underestimated. The so-called 'global business vocabulary' is far less universal than one thinks.

Country reference: Korea

Readability : easy

Practical application

  • background reference: * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: * * *
  • tools, checklists: * * * * *

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen




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