Walker, Danielle, Doing Business Internationally: The Guide to Cross-Cultural Success

Reviewed by Dr. George Simons at diversophy.com   Amazon review

Useful perspectives

Second editions signal two things, success and change. In the case of Doing Business Internationally, the success is not only of the book itself, first released in 1995, but of the technology and research of the Training Management Corporation (TMC) whose work it features and makes accessible in refreshed print. As to change, what has changed most since the release of the first edition is the intensity and urgency of cultural questions in a time of a struggling global economy and conflicting cultural ideologies. This new edition is timely.

Normally I review a book by first simply reading it through. In this case, being somewhat familiar with the TMC approach and a user of their Cultural Orientation Inventory (COI®), I simply let the book sit on my desk for a couple weeks and picked it up as frequently as the need for perspectives on cultural questions, for me quite often, came up. I was not disappointed. Even on going back to do a read of the entire text, I was even more convinced that this was a book for using, not just a quick read.

That being said, those new to and even those familiar the approach and the model will benefit highly by the first three chapters on the Global Environment, Culture, and The Cultural Orientations Model. They are up-to-date, practical, and, above all, are laced with quick, understandable examples. Often these are only a line or two, taken from the authors’ rich experience of applying their model to the everyday challenges and problems of organizations. These “stories in a nutshell” provided me with a goodly number of “Aha’s” even about cultural situations that I was familiar with.

The Cultural Orientations Model itself draws on solid research, blending classical studies about the dimensions of culture and the data provided by its own use over the years. The reader is invited to demo this model online at [...]. While it is not my purpose here to review or promote TMC’s online offerings, it is important to mention them because they are integral background to the quality information that the book provides.

Since there is no way that the culture specific information, available online and structured in the Cultural Orientations Model, could be contained in a reasonable number of pages, the authors have wisely provided in Chapter 4, “A Survey of Cultural Patterns.” Here the dimensions offered in the model are explored in terms of world regions, and illustrations are provided from specific nations and areas. This is admittedly a “survey flight.” It produces a map drawn at high altitude. Think of it as reconnaissance that we can use to zoom in to discover the particulars of the terrain. This is quite different from overviews that encourage the reader to generalize or even stereotype. Again, concrete examples repeatedly bring us down to earth where the action is. This chapter is an excellent short course for the beginner and a good review for the practitioner whose work tends to bury him or her in the detailed exploration of a specific set of cultural problems.

In Chapters 5, 6, and 7, the information addresses head-on three of the critical areas of applied cross-cultural knowledge, Communication, Marketing and Sales, and Teamwork and Collaboration. Since I do much of my work with Global Teams, I read Chapter Seven with particular avidity. The focus again was on bringing cultural knowledge to relatively familiar models of team development and collaboration to meet the challenge of creating, sustaining and motivating global (and usually distributed, as well as multicultural) teams. I bridled a bit at the use of the term “Transcendent Team” chosen to describe a collaboration that managed to succeed in meeting its task and team challenges successfully, not because it was intrinsically a misnomer, but simply because the term seems a bit tired and flat to describe the dynamics and the ample scenarios that the authors offer to help us manage this emergent new way of working.

Overall impressions: Solid work representing a track record of reliability. Good value for money. Somewhat US in focus (certainly its largest market), but not damagingly so. Clear language and well written, but a bit high on the Fogg index for ESL readers. Extremely well-organized structure. Small but accurate and useful index.

2nd Edition


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