Posts Tagged ‘anders haug thomassen’

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.

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

Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Sensitivity

In cross culture, emotional intelligence, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture on September 1, 2009 at 2:26 pm

Are some people better equipped than others to excel in the global workplace?

Are there any correlation between empathy, emotional intelligence and cultural sensitivity?

Studies seems to confirm that types of personality respond differently to the challenges of meeting, living and working in different cultures. In training and preparing employees to cope with new cultures, it helps to map and discuss the importance of emotional intelligence.   Equally, it is an important communication tool to work around Jung’s type index.

Jung’s description of the dominant “introvert” often struggle with inter personal communication at home.  It is documented that such deficiencies will worsen in a challenging cultural setting.  It seems in Jung’s theories, that the attitude “extrovert” (E) and the way to deal with the outside world, “perception” (P), plays an important part in social interaction.  A new cultural setting is less of a challenge to these types.

When building efficient teams to cope with both complex business situations, and complex cultural situations, it is of utmost importance to ensure a balanced distribution of all competencies required.

The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: Identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions.

According to HR magazine, November 1997; “…success at work is 80% dependent on emotional intelligence and only 20% dependent on IQ,”

Anders, from Gjøvik, Norway

10 Golden Objectives for Cross Cultural Training

In cross culture, global communication competence, globalization, multi culture on July 29, 2009 at 5:24 pm

The objectives for any organization’s cross cultural training need to be designed to meet the organization’s specific needs.  But there are some objectives that are common, and these 10 Golden Rules will bring you ahead of the competition:

  1. To encourage more sensitivity in observing, and in interaction with, people of different cultural background.
  2. To improve the understanding of micro-cultures in ones own culture.
  3. To improve the relationship between employees and customers through better awareness about cultural differences, and their impact on behavior.
  4. To develop more cosmopolitans who not only understand cultural differences, but are able to apply this knowledge in their work in a multi-cultural organization.
  5. To improve management’s efficiency in international business and their cross cultural controlling, negotiating, decision making, customer service and other vital administrative routines.
  6. To improve cultural awareness for employees stationed abroad, or re-located in their own country.
  7. To reduce the effect of cultural shock for employees stationed abroad, and to build cultural competence.
  8. To apply behavioral science – like psychology and anthropology – in international management.
  9. To improve job efficiency through knowledge of human behavior and how culture influence behavior.
  10. To build global communication competence in key employees.

Copyright 2009 Anders Haug Thomassen, Gjøvik, Norway.

Follow my blog on globalization too;  Globalization 4 U – How to excel in the flat world.

Global Communication Competence

In cross culture, globalization, multi culture on July 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm

The flat new world requires some new models, concepts and skills, and the one I find most critical is covered by the term “global communication competence” .

What does it mean, and where does it come from?

Management literature has for decades recognized the fact that managers typically excel in analytical matters, and too often lack people skills and empathy.  So we have seen literature and training focusing heavily on building/developing emotional intelligence among leaders and managers.  The beauty of a management team is that such skills are not necessarily needed by each manager, but the team is malfunctioning if none in the team posses such skills.

In any organization, the dynamics between people need to be nurtured, guided and managed in order to function well, and work efficiently towards common goals.  Adding the multi cultural aspect into these dynamics is like putting a magnifier there.  Management becomes even more important, and first of all the basics:

  • people skills
  • empathy
  • presence and availability

Diversity of different cultures and nationalities requires in addition, among other things;

  • theoretical knowledge, models and tools
  • language skills, not only for communication but for understanding
  • knowledge of the other cultures, to understand behavior, and to “decode” management style

All together, we here talk about global communication competence.

Anders, from a sunny Horten, Norway

Copyright 2009, Anders Haug Thomassen.

What is Culture?

In cross culture, globalization, Uncategorized on July 12, 2009 at 7:58 pm

A basic definition of culture: Those ideas, values, set of rules and norms shared among a group of people and transferred from one generation to another, and that the next generation try to pass on, somewhat changed, though. (A.M.Klausen)

“Believing with Max Weber that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of meaning,” Clifford Geertz wrote in his 1973 book, “The Interpretation of Cultures” (Basic Books).

Hello world!

In cross culture, globalization, multi culture, Uncategorized on June 28, 2009 at 10:01 am

Where are we heading?  Where do we want to go?

It is amazing how much energy is spent on fighting change, or defending status quo.  And this is nothing new through history, and will for sure continue till the end of times.  And equally sure, the world will change.  Where is the world heading, and what are the challanges we’ll meet around the next corner – and for the next couple of years.  How is the flat world changing each one of us, and our cultures?  How can we prepare todays students for the world of tomorrow?

These are some of the questions I would like to voice here.

Basic presumption:  Culture is a dynamic concept, more as a consequence of technological changes, and structural changes in our society.  Hence culture is changing faster than ever.