Archive for the ‘multi culture’ Category

Globalization Hitting the Man in the Street (3)

In संस्कृति शॉक, choque cultural, cross culture, Культурный шок, emotional intelligence, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture, Uncategorized, 文化冲击 on November 18, 2015 at 2:57 pm

We are certainly living exiting times, with new challenges being thrown at us every single day.  Some can be predictable, others are rather hard to predict.

Globalization, dramatic world events and culture shock is hitting the small town of Kirkenes, way north of the Artic Circle, located at 69 degrees North.  Over resent months, hundreds of Syrian refugees have come to the boarder crossing of Storskog from Russia, – on bikes.

How could possibly the small community prepare for such an influx of Arab language, middle east life style and a crowd of asylum seeking citizens with a traumatic past.  But it is happening now, and we have to deal with it.  It requires knowledge;  – cross cultural knowledge and a rich toolbox of EQ, language and empathy.

bikers_at Storskog    Anders, from a snowy pier in Kapp, Norway

Globalization hitting the man in the street (2)

In संस्कृति शॉक, choque cultural, cross culture, Культурный шок, emotional intelligence, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture, Uncategorized, 文化冲击 on February 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

Times they are a changin’ also in Oslo, Norway.

Professor and globetrotter Øystein Nordeng lost his plane from Oslo Aiport Gardermoen heading for Uganda.  And loosing an airplane for business people in the 21st century is no big deal.  What made Professor Nordeng headline news was the reason why he lost his plane:

The taxi driver of Oslo Taxi stopped at the highway, E6, at 7:00 a.m. sharp, went out of the car, pulled out his prayer mat, headed towards Mecca and prayed.

A globetrotter like Professor Nordeng for sure has experienced many situations through his career that have become entertaining dinner stories.  But here he was caught off guard, in his home country, challenged with unexpected cultural distance.

This is a new dimension of the 21st century:  Culture awareness is needed everywhere, all the time.

Roadside prayer in Xinjiang, China.

Roadside prayer in Xinjiang, China.

On the other hand, there is a Somali taxi driver in this story who has had an interesting experience with culture shock when arriving in Norway.

He will also have a lot of good stories to tell to his grandchildren about his migration, the challenges he met, and the headlines he made.

Anders, from lakeside Mjøsa (covered in ice).

Chinese Management Style Causing Culture Crash in Africa

In संस्कृति शॉक, choque cultural, cross culture, Культурный шок, emotional intelligence, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture, 文化冲击 on November 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Increased Chinese presence in Africa has fueled discussions on many issues.  There are obvious cultural differences and numerous incidents are coming to the surface, such as this weeks shooting in Zambia.  Local miners protested to how they are treated by Chinese management, and the Chinese managers answered by firing shotguns and wounding 16 miners.

New York Times can report:

  • As in many other African nations, the Chinese are an enormous economic presence in this impoverished but mineral-rich country, and their treatment of local workers has become an explosive political issue, presenting an awkward balancing act for governments desperate for foreign investment. “We’re an economy in transition, and we can’t afford to lose the cow that gives us milk today,” said Labor Minister Austin Liato.

We have only seen the tip of the iceberg so far.

Anders, Gjøvik, Norway

Culture Shock Unexpected

In संस्कृति शॉक, choque cultural, cross culture, Культурный шок, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture, 文化冲击 on August 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Experience confirms what academia has researched and proven:  Obvious cultural differences are easier to deal with than the unexpected!

My favourite case in discussions on the cultural dimension in business are the close encounters where none of the parties expect cultural differences to play a role.

Cultural differences played a major role in destroying attempts to merge Swedish Telia and Norwegian Telenor.

So a warning need to be issued:  Cultural differences should never be ignored, but be a standard procedure element of any relevant analysis.   

When travelling far, we are mentally prepared to meet a different culture – different way of thinking.  But those differences are actually around us, even within apparently homogeneous cultures.

Anders, from a rainy and chilly Gjøvik, Norway

Stereotypes, Truth and Fun

In संस्कृति शॉक, choque cultural, cross culture, Культурный шок, globalization, multi culture, 文化冲击 on August 9, 2010 at 2:53 pm

How to describe other nationalities, other cultures?  It is very difficult, at best, and most often it ends up as stereotypes.

Stereotypes only serves as entertainment, and can be quite funny.

Scientists like Edward T. Hall and Geert Hofstede have tried to build models, testing given criteria more scientifically.  They do describe interesting differences between cultures, but need to be read with caution as there are no individual who fit into a generic model.

” Culture is more often a source of conflict than of synergy. Cultural differences are a nuisance at best and often a disaster.”     Prof. Geert Hofstede, Emeritus Professor, Maastricht University.

 Follow the link on Hofsted to some interesting reading.

Edward T. Hall’s early works “The Silent Language” (1959) and “The Hidden Dimension” (1966) are still monumental works within this cross-section of science.

Follow the link on E.T. Hall for a summary of his models.

Anders, from Gjøvik, Norway

East Meet West

In संस्कृति शॉक, cross culture, Культурный шок, emotional intelligence, globalization, multi culture, Uncategorized, 文化冲击 on May 27, 2010 at 9:15 am

Diversity as a fundamental ingredient in creating dynamic teams is powerful.  Cross-cultural team-building is essential in building organizations that can cope with the challenges of the flat world of today and tomorrow. 

Diversity. A prerequisite in dynamic creative team-building.


I have had the pleasure to work in, and to develop and manage cross-cultural teams on all continents.  Part of the team dynamics experienced are general, mainly stemming from different personalities within the team.  The main toolbox is then to be found within the field of psychology.  Another important part of the team dynamics originate from different cultural background.  Fortunately, the toolbox needed is constantly improving and comes from multiple sources.  Most models though, are developed within social anthropology.  I will present some of the models I have found most useful on this page, so if you are interested in this field – stay tuned. 

Anders, alongside Lake Mjøsa, Norway

When Globalization Hits Mum and Dad

In संस्कृति शॉक, choque cultural, cross culture, Культурный шок, emotional intelligence, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture, 文化冲击 on February 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Challenges of cross cultural marriages, and divorces

‘Globalization’ as a term is often used in connection with topics many of us consider either too complicated or way above our heads.  But globalization has another face, raising questions we all can relate too, although we are not always well prepared to discuss them:

  • Is it OK to build a Muslim mosque in my Christian neighborhood?
  • Can kids in our school wear hijab or other religious expressions?

And are we prepared to accept a discussion about our own use of Norwegian ‘bunad’ (traditional costume) in a foreign setting?

In today’s society, it is getting more and more common with mixed marriages across cultures.  Marriage is a challenging exercise in the best of circumstances, and a mixed one often has the additional dimension of different cultural background.  These differences seems to polarize in the case of a divorce.

Kids are torn between a mum and dad that in some cases decide to live worlds apart.  These kids are basically unprotected from international legislation and common practice, as we have yet to build the necessary super-national structures needed.

As a consequence, we get stories like the Kalid Skah case that is presently running in the news.  Allegations about kidnapping, diplomatic misunderstanding between the countries of Norway and Morocco, etc.  We have experienced the clash of cultures on both individual, institutional and national level.

Moroccos Minister of Foregin Affairs expressing his disagreement with the perceived actions of the Norwegian Embassy in Morocco.

We need to get started a process of making The Constitution of The World!

Anders, from a snow covered Gjøvik, Norway.   Copyright 2010 Anders Haug Thomassen.  The use of this material is not only encouraged, but highly appreciated as long as the source is mentioned.

Follow my other blog:  Globalization4U

Culture Shock At Home

In संस्कृति शॉक, choque cultural, cross culture, Культурный шок, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture, 文化冲击 on December 1, 2009 at 5:26 am

The models and methods developed to understand and assist people in reducing the negative impact of culture shock are useful tools also to be used at home.

Differences in culture between organizations can be as big and surprising as any cultural differences experienced on a distant travel.

Cultural Adaptation Process

The main challenge at home is that we do not expect cultural differences, or we have the presumption that these differences are well known to us, as well as how to handle them.  Too often we find that people struggle to cope and to adapt.

The World is Coming To Us

Another aspect today is that the cultural toolbox is needed in the most local of societies, as the world is coming to us.  This makes cultural understanding more important than ever.

In this blog I will discuss some of the key models and tools useful in cross cultural training.

Anders, from a cold a winter day in Gjøvik, Norway

Copyright 2009 Anders Haug Thomassen.  You are encouraged to use this material as long as you mention the source.  Illustration Per Kristian Strand.

Cross cultural competence required in everyday life

In cross culture, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture on November 5, 2009 at 3:47 pm

During the 1980-ies Norwegian countryside experienced an unprecedented influx of foreign labour that changed local culture forever.

During the 1990-ies we saw a similar development within other labour intensive businesses, first of all the construction business.  And globalization continues.  In the health sector, a significant percentage now comes from non-Scandinavian countries, and the percentage continues to grow fast.

All these foreign workers and their families have contributed to a fundamental change in most Norwegian communities.  Previously, Norway had one of the most homogeneous cultures in the world.  This is not the situation any more.  Fortunately, we have not only received labour we needed, but also a rich cultural addition and added knowledge.

One of the challenges, though, is that cultural understanding and knowledge now has become relevant even in the most remote Norwegian county or village.

Making sure we keep fueling relevant organizations with necessary cultural competence, we have a resource in our society that will prove itself more and more important.

Anders, from a snowy white Gjøvik, Norway

Interested in a speech, seminar or team-building exercise on this topic, look me up at:

How to avoid culture shock as “expat”

In cross culture, emotional intelligence, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture on September 1, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Failure rates of expatriates continue sky high!

Aborted assignments as high as 40%.  The sad story behind the figures is that a dramatic improvement is possible with very basic and inexpensive means.  A highly motivate professional, with the right set of skills, might return because the spouse cannot handle the new environment or its culture.    Several studies have documented family related reasons as the main reason for aborted assignments, such as:

* The spouse’s difficulty to adjust.

* The employee’s difficulty to adjust.

* The employee’s personal or emotional immaturity.

* Other family issues and problems.

So where in the selection process are HR departments or management teams taking the wrong way?  Too much focus on job competence and compensation packages, and way too little focus on personality and family issues is my experience.   It is a costly mistake each and every time.

Check list for improved selection:  Employee selection criteria

Three areas an effective selection process should consider in selecting a candidate: self-orientation, others-orientation and perceptual-orientation.

Self-orientation focuses on activities and attributes that strengthen the expatriate’s self-esteem, self-confidence and mental health.  Such attributes might include

* Stress-reduction skills – the ability to recognize potential conflicts and circumvent negative reactions.

* Reinforcement substitution – the ability to replace pleasurable home activities with substitute activities in the host country.

* Technical competence – the ability to accomplish tasks with self-confidence, sometimes with little or no help.

* The ability to deal with alienation and isolation.

Others-orientation focuses on activities and attributes that enhance the expatriate’s ability to interact effectively with host-country nationals (HCNs). These include

* Relationship skills – the ability and willingness to develop long-lasting friendships with HCNs.

* Language skills – more than fluency, this refers to a willingness to use the local language as often as possible, without fear of being incorrect, sounding silly or stupid, in a desire to understand and relate to HCNs.

* Understanding importance of nonverbal communication, including the ability to pick up on nonverbal body language in the host country, which may have different meanings than it does in the home country.

* Respect and empathy for others.

Perceptual-orientation focuses on the ability to understand why foreigners do what they do.  These skills include

* High tolerance for ambiguity, being nonjudgmental – waiting to accumulate all the facts before jumping in with an opinion, stereotype or incorrect decision.

* Being open-minded and being able to make correct assumptions about the reasons or causes of HCN behavior.  Knowing how HCNs will likely react to situations reduces the stress of uncertainty in personal interactions.

Having worked with the topic of foreign assignments both in theory, and later through several challenging experiences of my own, I find it very rewarding now to assist new generations of expatriates to master the challenges this exiting experience offer.

Some further reading:  BNET

Follow my blog on globalization at Globalization4U

Copyright 2009 Anders Haug Thomassen, Gjøvik, Norway.  You are encouraged to use this material as long as you mention the source.  Comments are more than welcome!

For professional contact:  Anders Haug Thomassen home site

For background on me: LinkedIn