Recommended reading: General/background

Please also read the general notes on our recommended readings, on the contents of the various categories, and on the rating system. Other categories:

Managing Cultural Diversity in Technical Professions, First Edition (Managing Cultural Differences)
Author(s): Lionel Laroche;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann (18 November, 2002)
  • ISBN: 0750675810

Content keywords:
  • Diversity in the workplace
  • Cross-cultural management communication in high-technology industries
  • Management of technical professionals
  • Intercultural communication issues in multicultural teamwork among technical professions
Our review:

This title is one of the very few books which addresses the application of intercultural communication skills in the technical professions. The author, an engineer and scientist himself, addresses two observations drawn from his own years of experience working in culturally diverse international project teams: that most technical professionals do not recognise the impact of cultural differences in their daily work; and that ultimately, an inadequate understanding and anticipation of cross-cultural issues leads to a severe under-utilisation of talent.

These two observations are the basis of the book which examines the impact of cultural differences on organisations as a whole, on specific parts of an organisation (e.g. sales, marketing), or specific skills (negotiations, strategic planning, team co-ordination, networking). The author explores how common cross-cultural issues relating to such key concepts as hierarchy and risk avoidance impact the communication behaviour in the manager-employee relationships. The book is sectioned with practical applications in mind, addressing those questions the uninitiated technical professional is likely to have when approaching intercultural communication: What are the signs of cross-cultural management issues in technical professions? What is going on? What can one do? What can one gain from acquiring the the knowledge and skill?

Dr. Larouche addresses the technical and scientific professionals' basic assumptions when confronted with the issue of developing "soft skills" and reveals a central misconception in their communication paradigm - the assumption that because science is build on neutral facts, the exchange of scientific information is also an objective process.

The speed of light is indeed the same everywhere in the world and based on the same physics. However, the interpretation and representation of technical data, how data is requested, what other determinants in the decision-making process could be more persuasive than incontestable scientific data alone - the communication between scientists are no less impacted by the cultural background different people bring to their professional activities.

This book is chock full of illuminating anecdotes, examples and brief case studies, as well as helpful guidelines for possible solutions. It is not only inspired reading for students of intercultural communication, but also a rich source of advice for intercultural communication trainers and HR managers.

Target readership:

  • technical professionals (engineers, scientists, technologists, technicians) born and educated in Canada and/or the United States, who are dealing with cultural differences in their workplace
  • "new North Americans", or technical professionals born and (mostly) educated outside Canada and the United States (immigrants, expatriates) who have worked in North American organisations for a couple of years
Readability: moderately easy

Practical application:

  • background reference; * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: * * * *
  • tools, checklists: * * * * *

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen

When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures
Author(s): Richard D. Lewis;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (30 October, 2005)
  • ISBN: 1904838022

Content keywords:
  • International business
  • Management
  • Cross-cultural communication
Our review:

This is a very comprehensive introductory guide to working and communicating across cultures, and highly recommended for newcomers to intercultural communication issues. It highlights the most different points of cultural divergence on the global scale in very manageable and concise chapters, which show why and how different cultures see and react to the same events (e.g. meetings, negotiating, building business relationships, the use of time, manners in society, verbal and non-verbal communication characteristics) in fundamentally differently ways.

One of its strengths is the balance it strikes between providing a framework for vastly different cultural 'mindsets' and the practical 'do's and don'ts' that proceed from an understanding of how we ourselves as well as others 'tick'. The books also provides insight into a range of related issues, such as the role of language in intercultural communication, etiquette and body language, leadership skills and team-building in multicultural workforces, all described in a highly entertaining, anecdotal narrative style.

Especially important for the newcomer to intercultural communication issues is an awareness of the widest points of cultural values divergence on the global scale. While this book offers an introduction to a very wide spectrum of countries, it spotlights in particular those cultures - namely the U.S./Canada, northern and southern Europe, the Arab countries, the Far East (China and Japan), Scandinavia (Finland and Sweden), India and Russia - which are located at distinct points from each other along the cultural values continuum.

This books also does well what all responsible and effective intercultural trainers and books strive to do: provide a structured background of knowledge that prepares the cross-cultural communicator to make reasonable assessments of the other side's reactions in any given situation. While this books also contains a number of helpful do's and don'ts checklists, it aims to provide readers with essential tools with which to create one's own checklists. By understanding the roots of cultural behaviour and their impact on social and business communication, one is able to prepare oneself before problems arise by foreseeing likely barriers with a surprising degree of accuracy.

Country reference:

  • global
  • U.S.A.
  • Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, Finland
  • France, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico
  • China and Japan
  • Russia
  • Arab countries
  • India
Readability: easy

Practical application:

  • background reference: * * * * *
  • exercises: none
  • case studies and examples: * * *
  • tools, checklists: * * * * *

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen

Intercultural Business Communication (2nd Edition)
Author(s): Lillian H. Chaney;Jeanette S. Martin;
Browse and buy this book at: Amazon Germany  | (U.S.)  | Amazon Canada  | Amazon U.K.  | Amazon France  | Amazon Japan  | Amazon Austria  |
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall (21 June, 1999)
  • ISBN: 0130137006

Content keywords:
  • Social and business etiquette
  • Corporate cultures
  • International business communication
  • Intercultural communication
  • Cross-cultural negotiating
Our review:

This book is a practical introduction to the background information the international business traveller and negotiator will need to know and apply in typical interactions. The first 5 chapters provide a comprehensive overview which identifies the nature of intercultural communication, contrasting cultural values. It does a very good job of providing examples of how different cultural values directly impact communication style and behaviour. As the book is aimed at outgoing business travellers, it devotes individual chapters to culture shock, typical non-verbal and verbal communication patterns, as well as business and social customs (e.g. greetings, gift-giving, bribery, dress and appearance, customs associated with holidays and holy days, office customs and practices, customary public behaviour) which invariably parenthesise all intercultural encounters.

Chapters 10 to 12 provide a very useful overview of how cultural differences impact the intercultural negotiation process, intercultural negotiation strategies and laws affecting international business and travel. These chapters provide different profiles of negotiating style based on the most divergent cultural values orientations, re-locating otherwise conventional step-by-step guidelines within an intercultural framework.

This book lends itself very effectively to both self-study and classroom teaching, drawing heavily on real-life anecdotes and examples from experienced travellers and other sources to add realism to each of the topics discussed. It was in fact designed to be used as a text for a college-level course in intercultural business communication or to augment courses in which intercultural communication is a major component. Each chapter ends with questions and case studies for discussions, several group activities, as well as a substantial reference list for further reading.

Country reference: global

Readability: easy

Practical application

  • background reference: * * * *
  • exercises: * * * *
  • case studies and examples: * * * *
  • tools, checklists: * * * * *

Copyright © 2003 - 2004, Alexia & Stephan Petersen

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