Intercultural Management: A Case-Based Approach to Achieving Complementarity and Synergy

We are living and working in a global society. How can organizations and individuals manage intercultural challenges and benefit from diversity? How do we guide employees and managers through the ambiguous and uncertain waters of today’s multicultural workplace? These are the key ideas at the center of Intercultural Management: A Case-Based Approach to Achieving Complementarity and Synergy, edited by intercultural management experts Christoph Barmeyer and Peter Franklin.

More than ever, the ability to manage and leverage cultural differences plays a significant role in top-performing companies. High productivity, successful collaboration, and breakthrough innovation depend increasingly on culturally adaptable managers.

This insightful textbook looks at how managers tend to overlook the power of cross-cultural management. Diversity offers organizations an enormous advantage. People from different cultural backgrounds bring a different outlook, different ideas, different approaches, and different strengths to the table.

As the founder of a company that internationalized, I witnessed our employees become geographically dispersed and shed their shared cultural assumptions and norms. In my role as the head of what is now a global company with multiple subsidiaries around the world, I have personally experienced how people from other cultures can have a positive impact on your organization and its profitability.

Managing across cultures requires the ability to recognize and embrace similarities and differences among nations and cultures, and then to understand, appreciate and use those cultural factors to motivate employees. Maximizing performance begins with understanding how each individual’s decision-making process is influenced by their own cultural beliefs and background. It requires a global mindset – an ability to connect with people from other cultures on an intellectual as well as emotional level.

What I find most thought-provoking about Intercultural Management is that the authors look at both the difficulties and opportunities this brings to an organization and the competencies needed to come to grips with the complexity of multicultural environments and create truly innovative outcomes.

The book does not shy away from the fact that applying a positive and constructive approach to situations is often regarded as difficult and even threatening. It posits that a paradigm shift is required to convince managers that cultural diversity can be used as a tool to create synergy and complementarity in the organization.

The editors present several case studies through which they examine different aspects of and topics in international management. In the chapter Harmonizing Expectations: NSF International’s Experience in Shanghai, for example, the authors describe the entry into China of US-based standards testing company NSF International. The case delves into the cross-cultural and organizational challenges and dilemmas that the company faced and successfully addressed in opening its Shanghai operation. These real-life situations make the challenges and wins easy to visualize, understand and learn from. In our increasingly globalized world, this book is a valuable resource for any executive.

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