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However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.Winston Churchill

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Global Dexterity

Global Dexterity

How can one adopt behaviors required to adapt to a foreign cultural context?

Author(s): Andy Molinsky

Publisher: Harvard Business Press

Date of publication: 2012

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While many publications on intercultural management are content to analyze differences, at the risk of falling into stereotypes, Global Dexterity looks at the topic from a behavioral perspective.

By observing Asian MBA students in the United States, the author formed the conviction that accumulating knowledge about a foreign culture does not necessarily help people to modify their behavior in consequence. These students know they are supposed to participate in class, ask questions and assert themselves. However, they are often incapable of doing so due to their culture of origin, and their grades suffer as a result.

The author shows that it is possible to draw closer to a culture that seems remote by implementing a succession of small and simple behavioral changes. For example, a Russian consultant in an American firm was regularly overlooked for important assignments because her culture “forbids” explicitly asking to be put on a project. In her culture, this would happen naturally if she deserved it. U.S. consultants, on the other hand, find it natural to express their desires openly. Even worse, they see someone who doesn’t ask as simply unmotivated. The consultant finally found a solution by asking “How could I be useful on this project?” This small step enabled her to be integrated into assignments that interested her thanks to a small effort to adapt.

Cultural missteps are inevitable. The author proposes a checklist to anticipate them and manage their consequences. You will thus discover how to focus your attention and efforts on frankness, enthusiasm, formalism, assertiveness, self-promotion, or small talk.

A resolutely practical approach, supported by numerous examples that make this book lively, useful and interesting to read.