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Paul Rattray

Eastern and Western Worldviews in focus

BRIDGING
BRIDGING CULTURAL DIVIDES
Eastern and Western Worldviews in focus
PAUL RATTRAY

BRIDGING CULTURAL DIVIDES (Text Version) By Paul Stewart Rattray ETC Indonesian Language and Business Services, 1998, Revised April 2013 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in referenced articles and reviews. For further information contact: Paul Rattray 26 Spring Myrtle Avenue Qld 4560 Australia. Tel: +61-(0)7 5441 4803 or 5477 1555 Fax: +61-(0)7 5477 1727 Mobile :0418 712 919

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Backgrounds and Worldviews How Worldviews Effect Thinking 1. In Individuals 2. In Education 3. In Communication 4. In Organisation Chapter 3 The Outworking Culture 1. In Relationships 2. In Business 3. In Management 4. In Politics Chapter 4 Working Out Cultural Differences 1. In Feelings and Emotions 2. In Religion and Belief 3. In Ethics and Principles 4. In Language and Customs Chapter 5 Overcoming Cultural Differences 1. In Learning Culture 2. In Talking Culture 3. In Transferring Culture 4. In Applying Culture Epilogue Bibliography 3 4 5 9 9 11 13 15 19 19 22 28 31 33 33 35 37 39 43 43 47 52 57 61 63

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PREFACE
In this rapidly changing world, the notion of 'East and West' has become blurred as we are physically brought together by technology and communications. Multiculturalism is the new mantra for equality, but it's often an ideal, the reality being that when we are threatened by change, we cling even more strongly to our 'cultural roots'. East has met West. We live and work together, but do we understand each other? The world has become a global village with hundreds of thousands of Easterners moving to the West. In parts of Australia more people speak a first language other than English. Thousands of Western expatriates now live and work in the East. Despite this convergence of peoples, convergence of the minds seems to remain an ideal. In thinking, East and West often seem as far apart as ever. Yes, we are all part of the human race. We are not that different. But we think differently. And as we think so we are. The stereotype of the arrogant Westerner and inscrutable Easterner continues. This book attempts to bridge that cultural divide. Understanding why we see things differently will help us to learn how to overcome these differences in a mutually beneficial manner. Oftentimes we compare the relative merits of our worldview against those of others. However no people or culture is better than another, simply different. In the West we admire a steady gaze, firm handshake and upright manner when greeting. In the East, many cultures prefer a deferred manner, bowed head and pliant handshake. Both greetings are expressions of mutual respect. Indeed this example is stereotypical in itself, for there are numerous sub-cultures within cultures. Each country is different. The aims of this book are: "To provide a balanced perspective of Eastern and Western worldviews and deliver a practical means of recognising and overcoming these cultural differences." To achieve this aim, this book has been written in a unique way.

This approach doesn't look at Easterners and Westerners as specimens to be studied, but represents views from each perspective. For me, this is perfectly natural, as I am a mixture of two cultures, having grown up and lived in Indonesia for over 20 years, then worked and studied in Australia. For this reason I have taken on the dual role of both Easterner and Westerner, hence my use of "we", "us" and "our". A worldview is a combination of similar cultures, not the specific cultural differences say, between Australians and Indonesians. So, this book deals with generalisations by using some culturally specific anecdotes. I trace the Eastern worldview to a largely Hindu/Buddhist heritage. While North and Southeast Asians differ culturally, their underlying thinking is similar. The same can be said for Westerners: Europeans, Americans and Australians are culturally diverse, however they adhere to basic principles found in Judaeo/Christian philosophy. Generalisations will help us see these differences more clearly.

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Due to our rapidly changing world, all cultures today are in transition. More Asian students than ever before are studying in the West, learning to research, question and debate long held views. Westerners in ever-increasing numbers are living and working with Easterners, learning to define experiences and relationships based on time honoured traditions. This interaction has produced some hybrid cultures (like me). English speaking and educated Malaysians are a composite of East and West, as are Western followers of Hindu and Buddhist New Age philosophies. Change however is relative and often superficial. Beneath the surface, how we think and react is still determined by our original culture. This means that a westerneducated Indonesian may know Western business principles, but continue to interpret them in the Asian way. An Australian expatriate manager living and working in Indonesia may know about Indonesian culture, yet continue to work in the Western way.

INTRODUCTION
Receiving a visit from some Western colleagues, Mr John Scott decides to take them on-site to see how the new residential housing project is going. (All names have been changed for privacy reasons). A few days ago he had mentioned to the site manager, Pak (Mr) Suhardi, he would be coming to show his business colleagues the development. Pak Suhardi had indicated that this was fine. No formal appointment was made, as they know each other socially and work together. Arriving at the construction site the foreman invites them to tour the development. Not wanting to interrupt the obviously busy site manager (Pak Suhardi), John and his group leisurely set off, stopping to talk with the builders and tradesmen while checking the overall progress of the job. This enjoyable reverie is cut short by a request from Pak Suhardi for John to come and see him in his office as soon as possible. An obviously perturbed Pak Suhardi ushers John into his office, proceeding to lambaste him for not bringing his guests to the office first and introducing them personally to him. John explains that he knew Pak Suhardi was very busy and that the foreman had invited the group to look around. He had intended to bring his colleagues back to Pak Suhardi's office after the tour. Pak Suhardi counters that John had not shown him the proper respect accorded by his position. John is hurt and disappointed with Pak Suhardi's attitude. He had not wanted to bother an obviously busy Pak Suhardi. Furthermore, Pak Suhardi already knew he was coming on-site with his colleagues and had agreed to it. Pak Suhardi does not understand why John is so insensitive, treating him as if he is inferior, whereas they are equals in status. John should know by now that even when busy, Pak Suhardi should always be given the chance to meet the guests and excuse himself. Westerners can be so arrogant and insensitive when they want to be, they just never seem to see things the way we do. Easterners are so inscrutable, always leaving things unsaid and assuming that we should know what they mean. Now, how do we bridge this cultural divide?

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CHAPTER 1

Backgrounds and Worldviews


First of all we need to get back to basics and ask ourselves how we view reality. Do we see ourselves as the key player, an individual seeking to understand the outside world in order to shape our own destiny? Or, do we recognise the world as the great reality and our holistic harmony within it as being the key to achieving our personal destiny? These two fundamentally different approaches sum up the differences between Western and Eastern worldviews. Western Background and Worldview Much of Western thinking is based upon Greek philosophy and the individual human being's relationship to the world. Reality begins with man's personal interpretation of it based upon empirical observation, exploration and verification. The Christian principle of individual action through a personal faith in God, and God's command to subdue the earth, was a further impetus for individual self-determination. Such rationalist philosophers as Descartes and more recently Jean-Paul Sartre have further reinforced these principles. It is not my intention to expand on these various systems of thinking any more than is necessary to illustrate their influence on the current Western worldview. Descartes, who lived from 1596 to 1650 made famous this statement: "I think therefore I am." Jean-Paul Sartre continued this line of thinking with the words, "Man is nothing other than what he makes himself." In simple terms, these influential thinkers interpreted reality as beginning with the individual person and their own existence. Reality thus becomes a personal responsibility by virtue of the power of reason and logical deduction. We either make ourselves or, in a sense, allow ourselves to be made by others. This view of reality is determined by our personal interpretation of what we define reality to be. This viewpoint places man apart from the world of reality outside as he tries to relate to it. This may be represented using the following diagram:

A result of this thinking is the Western version of logic, which begins with doubt rather than faith and becomes belief only if it can be substantiated. Rationalist philosophers such as Aristotle, Descartes and Sartre held that one should not accept truth as being absolute unless one clearly knows it to be so. Thus, to find truth one follows a process of elimination, first identifying the subject to be examined, and then dividing it into various parts. After moving from one part to another, proceeding from more simple to complex, the whole process is reviewed to ensure that nothing has been left out.

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By dividing reality into parts, conclusions can be drawn about a concept as a whole. This process involves logical thought by employing principles of cause and effect is known as the scientific method. It is widely credited for the advanced economic and technological development of the West. The following illustration describes this thinking:

A D

B C

Such thinking moves from A to B to C to D in logical progression. When applied to reality, the sum total of the parts defines the whole. Thus Western philosophy seeks to unite many parts into a oneness that explains and integrates the many. The heavy emphasis on reason in understanding life and the universe has seen Western thinking compartmentalised. Even individual psyche can be divided into thinking, feeling and will. The importance of rationalism and personal fulfilment in determining reality has taken the cult of the individual to new heights, nothing is absolute. This worldview has spawned relatively stable governments, societies and economies, and developed certain extremes of individualism. Increasingly though, many Westerners are "escaping the rat race" to seek a more 'natural' existence or embracing holistic [Eastern] New Age philosophies.

Eastern Background and Worldview The origins of Eastern thinking can be traced to the Hindu concept of Dharma, which comes from the Sanskrit word dhar, meaning to "support, uphold and nourish." Dharma is often defined as that which supports life, the sustaining force of the world, the divine essence of the universe (Chin-Ning, 1995:69-70). In human terms dharma is first proactive: to understand the appropriate action for any circumstance, then reflexive, where one accepts life as it comes and acts according to one's duty. The diversity of Asian religions, belief systems and philosophies stem from the concept of duty. An individual knows what is expected of them and does it. Thus from Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism to Malay Islam, reality is as the individual finds it. This view of reality recognises the universe as a holistic entity that functions as a whole, with every part fitting harmoniously within it. A Hindu maxim provides an interesting interpretation of this concept: "With what you get from others you make a living for yourself; what you give to others makes a life for yourself." The Bhagavad-Gita Hindu philosophical writings expounded this thinking further, "According to your life your duties have been prescribed for you; follow them and your desires will be naturally fulfilled." An individual gets in tune with the whole by relating to it, not through the self, but by being in harmony with the surrounding wholeness. Therefore an individual's first duty is to their family, clan, race and nation, rather than to themselves. The effect of this thinking on a person is that an individuals reality is not separated from that of the whole.

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This thinking is illustrated with the following diagram:

Lateral thinking of this nature begins with the external universe already in existence. Rather than trying to understand how it came to be, it is more beneficial to relate to it as it is. Relating to others has thus become an art form in Eastern societies. How we interpret feelings may be an appropriate analogy. Westerners attribute emotions to the heart, the engine room of the body, that active pulsating organ responsible for keeping our whole system functioning. For Asians, feelings emanate from the belly. In the Indonesian language, the word hati or "liver", the organ which acts to absorb and break down waste materials in the blood is an apt descriptive, reacting to the external elements in such a way as to protect the internal system. This thinking also comes through in a quote from Sun Tzu's Art of War: "If one is able and strong, then one should disguise oneself in order to become inept and weak." Rather than simply being concerned with physical and mental prowess in overcoming obstacles, the Eastern holistic approach takes into account both projected and internal feelings. Concentration and preparation are what make the difference. The ability to achieve victory without direct confrontation epitomises Eastern thinking. In this thinking, the reality of here and now is far more important than how it came to be. Nature's law is holistic and absolute. An individual must choose before acting, for once an action is delivered, absolute consequences will follow. To reach this state of mind requires a certain amount of passivity rather than activity. The key element of this thinking is that reality is here. Our task is to learn to relate to reality as harmoniously as possible. Thus the idea of God is impersonal and pantheisticGod is everything there is. Malay Muslims often attribute their core existence to the central pillar of their house, the tiang seri, which represents everything that is important in their lives. From this central pillar emanates the life force of family, clan, religion and community. That is, everything an individual needs to exist. This apparent minimisation of self also appears in Classical Buddhism, where true harmony is gained not from personal fulfilment, but from absorption into the whole and cessation from a tiresome sense of individual existence. The main emphasis of Eastern thinking is geared towards relating to life holistically. Personal fulfilment is measured against the group as a whole, rather than individually. This worldview has seen the rapid development of nations and economies through education and cooperative activity, sometimes at the expense of the individual, and tending toward extremes in wholeness. However, as more Easterners become exposed to Western ideals of self-determination, their views are changing.

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When East meets West In the East to relate to the whole is to understand the individual. In the West, to understand the individual is to relate to the whole. These diametrically opposing ways of approaching reality are the roots from which our cultures and ways of thinking have grown. Unless we acknowledge these differences, we can never understand each other. The rest of this book traces the effect these divergent worldviews have on our relationships. What is your worldview?
Western Eastern

Rate your worldview in order of importance from 1 to 6: Self? Community? Job? Family? Beliefs? Values?

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CHAPTER 2

How Worldviews Effect Thinking


Now that we have examined some of the basic differences between Eastern and Western worldviews, we will move on to see the effect this thinking has in the way we interact with others. 1. IN INDIVIDUALS The Western Approach Development of rational thinking in the West has tended to be limited, exclusive, focused and results-driven. Thus, to be rational, one centres attention on the brain to the exclusion of feelings. To be emotive is to feel rather than to think rationally. Advantages of this rational approach include being able to investigate our environment and to some extent control it. By applying the scientific approach to almost all levels of interaction we can often control outcomes. First we develop strategies, and then define goals by excluding any 'false trails' on the way to an objective. Our significant technical achievements pay homage to this rational approach. Westerners like to employ logical thinking, be 'reasonable' and straightforward and follow through on principles. This includes the practice of discussion and debate, whereby a group defines particular goals and individuals within the group then proceed to hammer out their differences. This style of interaction is characterised by disagreement, as each side in a debate has a slightly different view of how the issue is to be resolved. Often 'rational thinking' experts in particular fields are called in to give their opinions, thus turning to reason to overcome an impasse. The direct approach of the Westerner tends to view long discussions as being indecisive. We are eager to arrive at a conclusion. Time is also of utmost importance. The saying "time is money" aptly describes our reluctance to go around in circles. Getting to the subject at hand and resolving it as quickly as possible is definitive of the Western way. Western thinking centres on individual intellect and goal-focused strategies designed to reach a conclusion by the shortest possible route. This is achieved by resolving issues on a point-by-point basis utilising individual skills and knowledge. Things are placed into a narrow-as-possible context. Language also comes into the equation, with the precise nature of English represented by its use throughout much of the developed world as the language of technology and media. Whereas many Asian languages rely on context to explain logic, English is fundamentally literal in explanation, with a word to describe almost every activity or thing. The Eastern Approach Taking time to achieve a rational solution seems to define Eastern thinking, with a subject discussed from almost every conceivable angle. The development of thinking in the East holistically combines intellect, emotions, seniority and experience. When conclusions are reached they can appear to the uninitiated as if by accident.

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This begins with the group and not the individual, with the whole situation rather than just the point being discussed. The objective is to find a mutually beneficial solution to the whole situation, rather than to simply reason out an understanding. Dealing with others is much more personal and relates to all those present at the discussion, with considerations such as family ties, religion, seniority and status all factored into the equation. Our focus is on relationships and what effect a decision will have on them. Going around a problem helps participants get a feel for the discussion, with all contributing to the outcome. Respected senior members of the group then apply their intuition and ability to understand the group's feelings to decide on a mutually agreeable solution. Intuition is a highly prized commodity in the East. It is the ability to "feel" the right course of action using all our senses. Thus the English saying, "A women's intuition is always right" may not be so far off the mark, since in Asia it is regarded as both a male and female virtue to be admired. This way of thinking can be seen from the Indonesian word rasa, which means to feel, taste or think. Rasa in its various forms describes the different but related senses. Eastern thinking focuses on the whole rather than the separate. Thus, to sacrifice the individual for the group is natural in Asian culture. Leaders who use their intuition and drive to determine the fate of others are admired, provided they can continue to represent the group's interests. Things are placed in the widest possible context, with achievements being judged by their continuation rather than their realisation. Accepting one's fate or lot in life and carrying it out to the best of one's ability epitomises Asian thinking. Those who are superior in rank or status are to be respected and obeyed. Decisions determined by group consent are to be received gratefully by the individual. The widespread use of the passive structure in many Asian languages symbolises a different emphasis to the more active approach of Western tongues. When East meets West When we review these different ways of thinking, we realise that rather than being contradictory, they are in fact complimentary. Without clear logical thought and careful exclusion of extraneous factors good science and technological development is difficult. The East has embraced logical, brain-centred reasoning in its push to gain the technical skills needed for scientific advancement. Western thinking is also changing as Eastern explanations of life, health and human relations seem to be better served by this holistic approach than by rational science. These two different approaches to thinking are characterised by the following diagram:
Narrow Context Holistic Context

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2. IN EDUCATION Western Learning: Think for yourself While we may not always consciously know why we think in a certain way, we seldom unconsciously act. The most obvious outworking of differences in thinking is through our actions. In the context of worldview and culture, thinking begins at the stage an individual learns to distinguish categories of imagination and thus begins to develop a reality principle. This learned reality is primarily cultural. Beginning with our worldview, thinking and learning become more defined by our cultural environment, and therefore influences our actions. Western education is active, teaching us to think for ourselves, to find out all that we can and apply this knowledge in practice. In one sense the learner is the centre of the equation, learning to research and apply principles to different life circumstances. This creative method focuses on learning how to think inventively. The teacher acts as a guide, leading learners to discover, rather than telling them what they ought to know. This educational process emphasises individual thinking and personal expression of opinions. Putting forward points of view, asking questions, seeking answers and debating them is all part of the Western educational method. A high value is put on an individual's ability to defend their viewpoint rationally, using researched principles to verify their findings and to answer their critics. Increasingly in the West the emphasis on education is for a more practical approach determined by skills rather than general knowledge. Some of the results of this vocational learning and emphasis on personal discovery can be found in the poor literacy and reading levels of many Westerners, prompting a return to some traditional rote learning methods. In general however the scientific method remains prominent in the West, with most educational books written in the logical and precise lexicon of English. The only real change in Western educational thought is that it is more inclusive and that holistic learning continues throughout education, as focusing on more exclusive skills may limit an individual's opportunities in a rapidly changing world. Eastern Learning: Learn from others The holistic approach of Eastern education is more passive, teaching us to learn, know and understand what we are taught. In this equation teachers are at the centre, representing the knowledge students must learn to be part of their society. Teachers are highly respected and senior members of society. The Sanskrit word guru, meaning revered, is often used in the West to denote prominent leaders who excel in particular fields, whereas in the Malay language "guru" means teacher. Because teachers hold such high status in Eastern society, learners rarely question them and the educational process emphasises the ability of the learner to reproduce information given. Rote learning is the primary educational method and students develop strong skills in pure memory work. To thoroughly know what you have been taught is the key. The emphasis of education in the East is to have knowledge. To be educated is esteemed in itself, for an educated individual understands their environment and society. A weakness of this approach is its lack of application, thus in vocational and research contexts, where knowledge must be applied practically, learners have often learned the principle but are unable to apply it in different situations. With many more Asian students studying in the West and the rapid industrialisation of the East, traditional rote learning techniques, especially in the vocational skills area are under question, as the ability to practically apply skills in a variety of contexts becomes increasingly important. Learning to apply does have a long history in Asia.
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However, these skills were often presented informally over long periods of time, being handed down from generation to generation. Formalising and integrating these skills into the educational system has been more difficult. Because education is so highly regarded as a means of obtaining status and respect, the more practical aspects of learning are often less emphasised. It is unlikely that highly educated individuals will be expected to prove themselves on the shop floor, as they have already done so with their academic qualifications. This means that there is often a shortfall of practical skills, because manual labour is considered above those with status. These views are changing, albeit slowly. The benefits of general knowledge and the ability to remember are still regarded as the most important educational benchmarks in the East. For those who have the means, higher learning is in itself an end, for with it come respect, status and rankvalues Asians regard as being at the core of holistic living. Thus even in this era of rapid change, the value of knowledge and education in itself remains offset by the need to apply theory to practice in wider and more diverse contexts of learning. When East meets West As the world is brought closer together through global trade, the differences in the way we think, learn and process information come to the fore. Understanding these differences will help us to better manage the cross-cultural exchange of information. Interestingly enough, the more we work together, this mix-and-match of Eastern and Western learning methods will actually improve educational standards. Yet because learning is primarily socio-cultural, it is vitally important to understand each other's backgrounds before attempting to share information. Thus for anyone wishing to work with other cultures, understanding how each other thinks should come before anything else. Three key areas of learning that are strongly influenced by worldviews are content, process and context. Knowing the right mix of resources for each of these three areas is vital to providing an effective transfer of knowledge to a new learning environment. The diagram below provides an example of Eastern and Western learning cultures:
EASTERN 1. 2. 3. Emphasis on retaining and using general knowledge Based on observation, imitation and participation Teacher-centred seniority and cooperative approach LEARNING CULTURE WESTERN 1. 2. 3. Emphasis on analytical skills to problem solve Based on research, thought and verification self

Content Process Context

Learner-centred, individual and critical approach

Because learning is so vital to most activities, knowing what information to present [content], how to present it [process] and the social environment of the learner [context] is a priority. In more practical terms it means being sensitive to the learner and their cultural values. This factor can be illustrated by the strong motivation to learn amongst most Easterners. There is no need to motivate us to learn, only to practically apply it. On the other hand motivating Western learners is the key. Getting us to apply it is relatively easy. These principles become even more important where teachers and learners hail from different cultural backgrounds.

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Some of my students have complained that their Japanese lecturers do not explain to them how to learn the language. "You just do as I tell you and you will learn," does not sit well with those trained to reason through a problem. However it cuts both ways. A colleague of mine, Mr Richard Coggins, with much training experience in Indonesia, laments that while Asian learners are able to reproduce information faithfully, they have great difficulty in applying it practically. After a few sessions together looking at the way Indonesians learn, he was able to report much better results on the next trip because he spent more time concentrating on practically applying knowledge. 3. IN COMMUNICATION Western Approach: Seek an outcome As a direct result of the way we think and learn, communicating in the West focuses on achieving an outcome. Communication involves interaction with others and is the outworking of our internal thinking. Discussions in the West usually begin with individuals putting forward their ideas about a specific topic. No particular idea is considered superior to another and each participant is prepared to argue the case for their idea. An example might be the practice of 'brainstorming', where ideas are tossed around, argued, discounted or accepted. The key aspect of Western communication is to solve the problem at hand, then move on to the next point of discussion. To keep discussions 'rational', there are certain 'no go' zones such as politics, religion and race. "Putting your cards on the table" and "not beating around the bush" are all examples of how we communicate in the West. While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, such as in personal relationships, this is definitive of the Western communication method. Conversation, the most personal of communication methods considers the individuals involved as equals, even if their knowledge and learning is not. While this situation may be different at a private or personal level, where equality can in reality be only a clich, it remains a Western ideal. Furthermore, speaking together at a professional level is usually formal, matter of fact and to-the-point, since it should not relate to the personal view of the individual, but rather their particular knowledge of the subject at hand. Discussion of personal views is rarely entered into, as this may discriminate against an individual and is unprofessional, besides MY private life is not anyone's but my business. Written communication in the West is even more formal than in conversation, being concise and factual with an emphasis on form. Texts are organised clearly so as to ensure that the message is in no way ambiguous. Business letters are to the point, seeking to lay out the technical or legal matters to be discussed in 'plain English'. There is no wasting of words and ideas are put forward as proposals on which to argue for particular results. While relationships are important, it is the content of the material that is the key to effective communication. Eastern Approach: Seek a consensus To communicate effectively in the East we need to understand the factors influencing our communicationall those mitigating factors leading to a consensus. Communication requires interaction with others to arrive at a mutually agreed solution. Discussions in the East begin with the most senior partners defining the context of discussions, often putting forward their views of how they see the situation. This allows individuals to discuss issues within certain relational guidelines, knowing full well that their views should represent their status in the group.
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Being polite and deferring to superiors is part of the process and eventual consensus is reached by leaders interpreting the mood and tone of the group in a decision which takes into account group interests. One of the most important aspects of discussions in the East is that the harmony of the group be maintained. Thus religion, politics, family, seniority and status all influence the final outcome. Personal relationships and alliances within the group are vital to ensuring an individual's wishes are represented. "When benefits are mutual, cooperation will follow" by "performing the sacrifice of doing our duty" are Eastern examples of communication which apply both personally and professionally. In conversation 'face' features highly in the exchange, as how we are perceived by others and consequently treated, is tremendously important. The concept of face in the East is all about our place in the whole and our personal dignity. Thus it is considered extremely rude and insensitive to carry on a formal conversation without first determining each other's status at an informal level, since in the East people are defined by their holistic role in society. In the East my private life is OUR business. Written communication in the East is based on the oral tradition, thus people write how they speak and focus on context. This genre concentrates on the development and progression of a relationship and its surrounding opportunities and constraints (Mead, 1990:84-87). Correspondence is organised into a strongly interpersonal and cooperative approach where technical and legal matters may be alluded to, but not clearly stated. It is only after careful reading that a picture emerges from the background relationship on which it is based. When East meets West When these two very different ways of communicating meet there is often a clash of wills, as both sides feel uncomfortable with the other's way of doing things. In joint discussion Eastern and Western expectations are very different, and when certain unspoken protocols on either side are not observed, misunderstandings occur. When the Westerner is first introduced to the group the ensuing silence appears to be a prompt to put forward an idea. Uncomfortable with silence and hearing murmurs of affirmation the Westerner continues expounding an idea, surprised at the easy acceptance of his or her view. The meeting proceeds with the Westerner's motion carried with the apparent acceptance of the group. The Easterners on the other hand have not necessarily agreed with the Westerner's viewpoint, they were simply nodding and affirming that they had heard what was said. They were not satisfied with the Westerner's approach because it failed to take into account factors outside of the issue itself. There was no time to discuss these factors because whenever there was silence, the Westerner began to detail the plan further, probably assuming that they did not understand. Surely the Westerner knows that silence in Asia usually means possible disagreement, that the group is waiting for a senior to speak or that the meeting should wind up. Two myths are perpetuated in the above discussion. One is the myth of the arrogant Westerner, quick to express ideas and too impolite to wait for others of higher status. The other is the inscrutable Asian, saying one thing and then going out and doing something else. While cross-cultural miscommunications will occur, the important thing is to understand where the other is coming from. This often does not occur because neither side has built up sufficient trust with the other.

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This concept is graphically illustrated in a current project. The Australian side of the venture has made it clear in writing and verbally their views on the project's progress, with the ensuing strategies to achieve these proposed outcomes. Their Indonesian counterparts on the other hand have written asking my assistance in explaining to the Australians that they want correspondence to be on-going and written in a more questioning manner, in order to seek the advice of seniors in the venture rather than to propose strategies. The following illustration helps clarify the cross-cultural communication process: EASTERNER WESTERNER
LEVELS of COMMUNICATION

Worldview Holistic Cultural Values Group Expectations Personal Response Seek a Consensus

Know each other's beliefs and culture

Worldview Individualistic

Understand each Cultural Values other's expectations Individual Solution Respect different personal reactions Individual Response Seek an Outcome

4. IN ORGANISATION Based on real life experiences and formal and informal learning, values are communicated via social organisation. How we organise our lives and societies very much depends on our thinking. While social values are difficult to define, they usually include four dimensions: (1) Individualism versus Collectivism, (2) Hierarchy versus Egalitarian, (3) Independence versus Dependence and (4) Masculinity versus Femininity (Hofstede, 1983:810). East and West are a constantly changing mix of the above. Our societies reflect these value dimensions in everyday life. Western Values In the West we begin with the individual and hold on to values which focus on personal rights and the ideal of giving everyone a 'fair go'. Democracy is based on the "one vote one value" rule, as we want to have a say in who governs us and how they will do it. We jealously guard individual rights believing that their suppression will lead to fewer rights for all. Because we see ourselves as isolated entities, we form like-minded groups to protect 'our rights': pitting pro-lifers against pro-abortionists, blacks against whites, and labour unions against businessthe list goes on. Ironically, amidst this apparent chaos, we are generally law-abiding citizens, provided these laws are enforced equally throughout the community. Due to our political system, which allows for the periodic removal of unpopular political leaders and parties, either by legislative or electoral processes, the worst excesses of government are able to be curbed. A relatively free and independent press and judiciary is a further safety valve, enabling individuals to 'let off steam' without disrupting the society. According to Hofstede (1983) four Western organisational value dimensions are as follows: 1. Individualism is looking after one's own interests and that of one's immediate family (husband, wife, children, etc) and being independent of that in society with which we do not wish to be associated.
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2. Egalitarianism is the level to which weaker members of society are protected from

inequality within society. Inequality exists in all societies, but is defined by the extent of its acceptance. 3. Independence is the characteristic which defines individuals as being prepared to act outside of strict codes of behaviour and belief observed in a particular culture. 4. Masculine cultures tend to emphasise male qualities of assertiveness, ambition and competition in seeking material success, and respect is for physical strength, size and speed. In the above value dimensions we can recognise generalisations, though it is obvious that we as a society are not that easy to define. The aim of this exercise is to help us to recognise our own values first. From there we can better analyse the values of othersthen compare them. Eastern Values Eastern values begin with the group and what is best for them. This is usually decided by one who is seen by the group to have an inspired almost spiritual ability to bring overall harmony to society. Once this is establishedin the interim there may be much bloodshed and chaosit is the leader's right to determine the fate of the nation. Only in extreme circumstances will the people rise up to overthrow an ordained leader, as this could disrupt the harmony they have brought. Special interest groups are formed to discuss issues and authorised representatives make recommendations for the welfare of society. Those who are seen to threaten social harmony are removed, detained or neutralised. Interestingly enough, within this apparently harmonious and tightly controlled society, we generally accept that laws will be circumvented in some way or another, since laws are not applied equally across the board. Most individuals accept a strong state as necessary even preferable. The four Eastern organisational value dimensions are summed up below. 1. Collectivism is looking after the interests of one's 'in-group' (immediate and extended family) and protecting their interests and welfare, but in return expecting their permanent loyalty. 2. Hierarchical is the level to which weaker members of society accept and regard certain inequalities according to their status in society, thus accepting these realities as being unavoidable. 3. Dependence is the characteristic which usually defines individuals as being willing to act within the strict codes of behaviour and belief observed in a particular culture. 4. Feminine cultures tend to emphasise the more feminine qualities of overlapping social roles, in which harmony and quality of life in material success are sought and respect is for inner strength and humility. Again we can see that these definitions are generalised and cannot be taken at face value, but like all models of organisations in a particular society, are the starting point for a more in-depth study of culture. When East meets West As more and more Easterners come to study and learn in the West and more Westerners embrace the New Age teachings and philosophies of the East, a peculiar melding of cultures can be seen in many of the large metropolitan areas of the world.
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Scratch a little below the surface however and we tend to find that many of these new ideas are just thatideas. Traditional views in organising society have not changed a great deal. Studying values all depends on their scale. As Hofstede (1985:13) states, "Studying cultures is like using a zoom lens": interest in a particular country requires us to 'zoom in' on the differences within the country. If we want to compare countries we can 'zoom out' on a world scale to see the differences between countries. A technique often used to evaluate differences between countries in order to compare their organisational values is a scoring and ranking system based on four cultural dimensions. Although research into cultural views and values can be somewhat subjective, it is an informative exercise. Here is an example: Organisational Values Chart
Individualism
Score Australia Indonesia
90 14

Hierarchy
Rank
49 7

Independence
Rank Score
51 48

Masculinity
Score
61 46

Score
36 78

Rank
17 12

Rank
35 22

13 44

Source: G. Hofstede, Cultural Consequences, SAGE Publications 1980, R. Mead, Cross-cultural Management Communication, John Wiley and Sons 1990 and additional research.

The aim of this research is to gain information about the difference between two countries' organisational values or to compare these countries against a broader crosssection of countries. The scoring system is based on a set of numbers, say one to 100, with either the Western or Eastern values as the denominator. The distance of a cultural dimension can be measured as "high" or "low" i.e. near to or "far" from that value. This score then becomes the numerator. A ranking system is usually based on certain criteria or a comparison between differing factors [countries]. There are discrepancies between both source authors (Hofstede, 1980, Mead, 1990). For example, Mead states the "power distance" (Hierarchy level in my diagram) to be 35 points for Australia and 85 points for Indonesia. Hofstede on the other hand quotes 36 and 78 points respectively. What this research does tell us is that at no point did Australian and Indonesian value dimensions cross, meaning that we are scored and ranked as two significantly different cultures with few similarities. Organisational culture is an important benchmark for gauging and measuring the value dimensions of a particular people group, society, country or worldview. However, we know from personal experience that values are relative to them being put into practice. The ideals of honesty and sticking to one's principles are well known Western values, yet are often not practised in real life. In the East the notion of strong family ties and quality of life are similarly regarded as virtues, however may not always apply to the vast majority of people. Our values define us, but by our deeds are we known. As Eastern and Western values collide and meld it is important not to lose the positive values of each in the process. Knowing our own cultural values helps us to better determine the values of others.

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What are your cultural values?


VARIOUS CULTURAL VALUES

Values About ENVIRONMENT TIME ASPIRATION CHANGE EXPLANATION INDIVIDUALITY

Western

Eastern

Mastery Precise [Future] Success Rapid Scientific Self-realisation

Harmony Flexible [Past] Contentment Gradual Natural Group identification

What are your cultural values in relation to:


ENVIRONMENT? TIME? ASPIRATION? CHANGE? EXPLANATION? INDIVIDUALITY?

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CHAPTER 3

The Outworking of Culture


Now that we have a firm basis of what constitutes a worldview and how this thinking manifests itself in our societies, we are able to move on to the outworking of culture in our daily lives. Some say that what you see is what you get. To a certain extent this is true. Yet we all consciously (or unconsciously) wear masks or play roles which culture and society have set for usstriving in the process to define a certain individuality or harmony for ourselves. 1. IN RELATIONSHIPS Western Approach Developing good relationships based on individual choice and mutual advantage is the hallmark of Western alliances. Thus our sphere of personal contacts may not be particularly large, whereas business contacts and those with which we have a professional relationship are generally considered separate. We don't tend to mix business with pleasure. Because of our individualistic nature, we draw a strong distinction between private and public life. As long as I carry out my responsibilities to society through work and taxes I should have the right to be left alone. We admire those who show initiative in developing relationships, those who go out and get what they want. Of equal importance is the principle of being forthright and honest with constructive criticism. It is considered juvenile to not have the courage to face someone directly. "If you have a problem, tell me!" is an oft-heard expression. As 'adults' we consider it wrong to tell others of a perceived slight without the perpetrator's prior knowledge. This means being 'up-front'. You should say what you mean. In the case of conflicts, resolving them is considered more important than avoiding them, since there will always be conflicts. In fact conflicts can be good because they allow us to 'let off steam'. Relationships form as a natural dynamic, because we as social beings need them to survive. However, it is the motivation for forming and maintaining relationships that is the key. When we form relationships in the West we establish them with those we think will be of direct advantage to us. This choice may be subconscious, but has the aim of securing an interpersonal relationship with the other person. Relationships are with individuals and based on that dynamic alone. It is regarded as being manipulative to use friendship with one person to foster a relationship with another, though most of us have done this at some point in time. Gift giving in the West is a common means of expressing appreciation and is usually open-ended. A simple thanks will do, as a gift affirms the advantage (love, friendship, assistance) that the other person brings to the relationship. We are also incredibly generous to those in need, especially in natural disasters, as we sympathise with the individuals caught up in the calamity. Because of our care for individual rights and values we sympathise with the 'underdog', not so much for those who do little to better themselves, but for the 'battlers'. We also like relationships to be on as 'equal a footing' as possiblenot one sided. Eastern Approach In the East relationships form across a much broader spectrum due to the understanding that an alliance is a mutually beneficial relationship extending beyond those directly involved.
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We have many friends and the line between personal and professional relationships is virtually non-existent. Relationships are also much less direct, since issues like status and rank mean that inequality is an accepted fact of life. Often we form friendships with gobetweens who we know will benefit them and us through the relationship. We both understand and accept that we are indebted to each other. Those who excel at relationship networking are admired for their ability to harmoniously bring people together for the mutual benefit of the group. A key criterion of successful relationships is achieving the above without conflict or criticism, as that could jeopardise the relationship and make both parties lose face. Losing face is to be avoided at all costs. We avoid criticism like the plague, but if necessary, it will usually be via a third person, as we rarely are critical to one's face. Easterners are much more honest to a mutually trusted third party, as they know the criticism will be passed on, but with the right protocols accorded to the other person. This has saved both of us from a confrontation and the possibility of one or both of us becoming angry and upset. Conflicts are to be avoided at all costs. Needing to resolve a conflict means that we have failed to avoid them in the first place. Harmony is the key to good relationships. Conflicts only serve to disturb the set boundaries of a friendship. When we form relationships in the East we do so with those who may be of indirect but mutual benefit to us. While our relationships are with individuals as well, this is not the only dynamic, as this person is also part of a group. It is expected that the friendships we have with individuals will be used by them to attain benefits for us and we accept that they will use our relationship with them to gain benefits for themselves. It is good to be indebted to one another and we give gifts to affirm that relationship, expecting in return a similar gift according to our status in the relationship. If we are strongly indebted to the other person the gift should be large or vice versa. We are generous to those within our own relational group but tend to be less generous to those with which we have no personal contact, as they belong to a different group. Nevertheless Easterners extend friendship to everyone, since it is not considered just a personal relationship but part of our way of community life. When East meets West These rather distinct ways of forming and maintaining relationships survive quite well in isolation from the other, but when they coincide or collide, problems can arise. Because Easterners identify with individuals through groups, expectations are very high that they will act according to the group's values. This means that our handling of situations defines our eligibility in the group, i.e. a high or low status. It is not the solving of a problem that counts. Rather, it is how a problem is handled that is the benchmark. This may be quite different to how Westerners approach the same situation. Even if we 'ruffle a few feathers', the main thing is to solve the problem. The best way to study some of the differences in our maintenance of relationships is to see their outworking in culture. Here are some examples. 1. Expressing emotions in awkward situations: Pak Migi had a very difficult son who was a constant source of embarrassment to him. In this particular instance he had caused Migi to lose face by his actions and as the father he had a responsibility to reprimand his son and make amends to the offended party. This he did with a personal apology and material reparation. On explaining the situation to his friend, Bruce, he highlighted the fact that he had handled all of it without getting upset or angry either with his son or at the situation. Bruce commented that he was pleased that he had
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resolved the situation, but the most important thing to Migi was that he had handled it without [apparently] getting angry or upset. 2. Resolving conflicts in the best possible way: An individual had been stealing again. The company leadership called a meeting to decide on appropriate action; disciplinary action that ensured the culprit would be forced to confess was decided upon. The group leader of this person's division was party to the decision. On the following day the offender would be confronted, her bag searched and the stolen item returned to its rightful owner. However, the group leader called the girls in her group together and proceeded to tell them that a certain item was 'lost' and invited any person(s) in the group who may have it to return it to a particular location. This was done, without the perpetrator being made accountable, even though most everyone knew who she was. Understandably the Western leadership were concerned about their authority being usurped and demanded an explanation. The Indonesian group leader felt her actions were justified because the situation had been resolved without any major loss of face to any individual, even though the culprit was spared the humiliation of being made accountable for her actions. Management had wanted to solve the problem by bringing the culprit to account and punishing her. The group leader decided that to resolve the situation by avoiding a direct confrontation and loss of face was a better way to solve it. Another interesting facet of culture in relationships is its outworking through interaction with others. Get-togethers are a good medium to study how people interact both formally and informally, because we tend to follow certain (often unwritten) protocols. 1. Entertainment rules: Budi has been invited out to dinner. On arrival he notices one dinner guest arriving with a bottle of wine and another with some sweets. When he introduces himself to the host he apologises for not bringing anything. He is told that it doesn't matter, and another guest explains that we [Australians] often bring something for the host. He can bring something next time. Budi is confused, why would you bring food or drink to someone else's housearen't they embarrassed by that? (On the other hand Budi's Western hosts probably think it a little selfish that Budi contributed nothing to the evening.) 2. Expensive Hospitality: Richard has been invited to supper at his new friends' house. He knows they're not well off, as he has been to their house before. So on his way he stops for some biscuits. On arrival he offers the lady of the house the biscuitsshe refuses. He offers it to her husband and he won't take them either. The meal laid out for him is fit for a king and he knows they have gone way beyond their means. Richard can't understand why they won't accept even a small contribution to such a lavish meal. His Indonesian hosts are offended that he didn't feel they could cater for him. They would sell family possessions or go into debt to ensure their guest was well catered for. 3. Catering Capers: At an important East-West function it soon became obvious that they were going to run short of [cooked] rice. The speedy solution for the function to run on time was to restrict the consumption of cooked rice. The Western conference convener humbly apologised and politely informed guests that they would be restricted to one plate of rice each. While he felt the best had been made of a bad situation, the Eastern guests were somewhat offended. It's almost a 'cardinal sin' to run out of rice in Asia. "Far better to have guests wait while more rice was being cooked," was the comment from the Asians. The Westerners felt it better that everyone got a share. These customary examples of hospitality may seem unimportant until we consider how we feel about certain etiquette observed by us. We don't like iteven if we pretend that it doesn't matterwhen our cultural values are not respected. The way we form and
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maintain relationships is coloured indelibly by our cultural values and worldview. On the one hand Westerners don't like being indebted to anyone (except the bank), as it infringes on their individualism and independence. Easterners prefer being indebted to each other rather than a faceless entity like a bank, as it reinforces their group dependence. A further manifestation of these values is our Western concept of spacewe like our own space to be physicalmy own room, house, car. "A man's home is his castle", defines our view of the world. We need space to 'breath' and often find solace in solitude. In the East there is little personal space, in fact we tend to feel uncomfortable away from the group, finding solace with people, since we don't consider physical space to be that important. Our space is in our mindsthere we can think our own thoughts and nobody can intrude. Based on the examples given in this section, we can see the influence of cultures and worldviews on relationships. While all of us as human beings need to be in relationships, the way we approach their development is different, and the way we deal with the conflicts that inevitably arise from this interaction is not the same. Some of these differences can be summarised as follows:
Western Relationships (Individual)

Individual mutual advantage Solve problems and conflicts and stick to principles Support the individual<>Support the group Resolve conflicts at all costs and negotiate principles Group benefits through individual relationships
Eastern Relationships (Group)

2. IN BUSINESS The concept of doing business is a wide field, but in this particular case I am referring to the interaction between individuals where the objective is to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. The primary difference between East and West in relation to business is that in the West, 'business' is usually equated with work and occupations, whereas in the East, the same term is understood to be more holistic, relating to life, work and play. Thus, often times, the context and expectation of what business is and where it should be done can be quite different. Western Approach: Regulations and a level playing field In the West we have a long tradition of business being based on a system of fair play whereby certain rules govern the way we do business. Like almost all other competitive activities in the West, business is regarded as a game played on a (mostly) 'level playing field'. Sporting bodies (Governments), with specific written rules (laws) controls the game and umpires (lawyers) determine the rules in disputes involving players (businesses). The key criteria for this system to work are that all concerned understand and obey the rules. Those that do not are usually dealt with in a uniform manner according to the rules irrespective of their position in society. This system has worked relatively well in most Western countries and goes hand-in-hand with the cherished ideals of individualism and
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personal effort we regard so highly as fundamental human rights. Where this approach has failed somewhat is in international business, where rules and regulations are not the same and standards are not uniform. Many Western businesspersons feel that if Easterners simply followed the same rules and regulations that we do, then they would be saved from the often nepotistic and less than transparent Eastern way of doing business. While there are elements of truth to this view, attempts to impose monetary and financial controls have often proved ineffective, since Easterners consider that Westerners are imposing their values on them. Because financial dominance has and continues to come from the West, it is often assumed that business practices should as well. Western Business Practices The influence of Western culture in organisations is most often seen in business. Business skills play such a significant role in defining individuals in Western society. Those most admired are able to carve a niche for themselves in a particular profession, occupation or sport. The true entrepreneur has vision and an ability to get things done. Because we are an individualistic society we like to 'play by the rules', as this gives everyone an equal chance to 'win'. When it comes to doing business we like to work within firm guidelines and know exactly where we stand. Anything unclear is to be cleared up and documented in sufficient detail to ensure both parties understand exactly each other's responsibilities. Being 'professional' when dealing with others is a key Western business skill, where personal considerations are not supposed to enter into the equation. This is an ideal practiced religiously in the West and evaluations based on objective factors are regarded as being the most credible. When dealing with others at the business level we prefer not to be drawn into discussions about our private lives, as these issues shouldn't influence the business relationship. Because we tend to compartmentalise things, we do the same with people, assuming someone's home and work life as being two completely separate areas. We jealously guard OUR privacy and believe that personal choice in matters aside from the business at hand is not the other person's business. Thus while we may not agree with an individual's lifestyle, this becomes an issue only if it effects their job. We have legislated for political correctness, gender equality and individual rights. When we disagree we prefer to find a third party arbitrator who is able to decide right from wrong, win or lose, based on the objective facts contained in contracts and documents. The 'independent' umpire's decision is what we regard as being the most 'fair'. We regard any deviation from these practices in business to be detrimental to business, as it can lead to favouritism and nepotism. We stick to the written word and expect others to do the same. However we regard verbal communication as being somewhat less important in business unless it is in the presence of a third person. Business is now and our interaction with business colleagues should reflect this urgency. Eastern Approach: Traditional values and hierarchies Business in the East is much more traditional and based on the reality that we don't operate on a level playing field. Thus, one of the key business skills any individual can posses is the ability to develop a strong network of personal business relationships. Eastern business is more a community structure, where elders (government) are respected members of society who determine the principles of business (policies) and ensure that beneficiaries (businesspersons) are rewarded for their efforts. This business
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environment is governed more by decree and interpretation of policies than directly enforcing regulations. This system works surprisingly well where community leaders practice a high level of honesty, because people accept that certain benefits are derived from 'being at the top' of a particular society. Problems arise when leaders are corrupt or nepotistic to the extreme. This has been the case in Indonesia, where small people, who rely on the leaders for personal rights, are not treated according to recognised cultural values. However, most of us prefer business to remain an integral part of daily life and that it is governed by the same traditional principles and values that govern other aspects of our lives. Eastern Business Practices In the East business skills revolve around relationships. Thus, an individual is admired for their ability to do business rather than their specific skill or profession in business. Special interest groups dominate Eastern society and individuals align themselves with groups they believe will assist them to succeed in business. Making and maintaining contacts is the key, since it is only through these relationships that a firm picture of the true situation is gained. While written guidelines and contracts are important to the actual undertaking of business, they have little effect on the overall business relationship. When dealing with others we like to take all factors into account, especially at an interpersonal level, as this will affect the outcome. We accept that decisions will include subjective elements such as the closeness of our relationship, and we tend to apply objective analysis only to 'things', not people. This means that everything about a person is part of business, and we discuss family, religious and political beliefs as part and parcel of developing an understanding of the business activity. In fact, we see relationships in work and play as being fairly homogenous, as we want to be sure the person being 'adopted' will be compatible with the group. Personal privacy is respected, but our personal choices do affect the way we live and workand that affects business practices. An individual's personal beliefs, race and lifestyle will all affect their acceptance into the group and sacrificing their individual rights is not an issue where group harmony is involved. This is the way it should be. While there are regulations that must be observed, it is our status within the group which often determines how we interpret those rules. When we disagree, our disputes are dealt with in the group by the group. If they need to be taken to an arbitrator, far better it be a group elder who makes a decision based on the best interests of the group. Favouritism and nepotism are regarded as being part of group dynamics, provided that it does not damage the overall cohesion of the group. We respect the written word as a concrete record of the developing relationship. However, verbal communication is the seal of business approval. Business is a longterm venture between friends, requiring trust and perseverance. When East meets West It is at the point of exchange, where we actually start to do business together, that the outworking of cultural differences becomes most pronounced. The stakes are high, you want to get the best deal for yourself or gain more benefits for your group. Because of the risk and uncertainty, we quickly return to the safe ground of OUR CULTURAL WAY of thinking and doing things. Establishing 'trust' in business is the key to developing a long term mutually beneficial business relationship. For Westerners unwilling to approach business development from this angle, it will be almost impossible to progress business further, unless it is purely a trading arrangement. First we will look at the expectations of Eastern and Western businesspersons when they
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conduct business and compare the different approaches used in developing business relationships and achieving business outcomes.
Business Principles

WEST 1. Business is often agreed upon prior to forming


a personal relationship. usually occurs A personal the relationship following

EAST 1. Personal relationships are usually formed prior


to commencing business. follows on from the Business usually of a development

agreement to do business and the relationship is classed as a 'business relationship'.

'personal relationship' and is regarded as the basis for business.

2. Business is a key aspect of life, but still a


separate compartment to our personal life. The fairly strong dividing lines between work and play mean that 'family' is usually not directly included in business.

2. Business is a life skill and there is no real


dividing line between the two. Family and friends are an integral part of business life and are directly included in decision-making and business activities.

3. Showing initiative and being decisive are


primary indicators of business acumen and aggressive promotion of your firm's capabilities is the key to 'coming across well'. People are taken at 'face value'.

3. Appearing to be humble, self-effacing and


non-confrontational are key business skills, with an in-depth knowledge of your opponents and their business. People are judged by their status in the firm.

4. Developing business intelligence is the key


issue and finding out the financial status of the firm, its track record, management system and proposed business is the best way to assess risks and opportunities.

4. Developing strong interpersonal intelligence is


vital and finding out who key leaders are in the organisation, their beliefs, principles and management style is the best way to assess a venture's potential.

Business development is based on the principles used to seek business opportunities. The methods Westerners and Easterners use to develop business can also be very different, though the aim and eventual outcome is often quite similar. Here are some issues to consider:
Business Development Methods WEST
1. The key objective is to 'win' the business and this means putting forward a competitive, detailed and accurate tender, by:
(a) Preparing

EAST
1. The key objective is to bring about a 'victory' for all parties by discussing the issues which will ensure mutual cooperation, by: and the directly potential
(a) Preparing personal letters and direct personal

proposal clients

letters on

contacting

based

contact by using the relationship to seek consensus on how work and business is shared.
(b) Meeting directly with clients to discuss the Page 26

business and defining how the job will be done.


(b) Negotiating directly or indirectly with clients on Bridging cultural divides 27.1.05

Paul Rattray
issues proposed and seeking to establish an agreement.
(c)

Eastern and Western Worldviews in focus


nature and scope of the proposed business relationship. agreement on a contractual
(c)

Basing

an

Using an agreement to develop a memorandum of understanding stating the responsibilities and relationship of the parties.

arrangement which details how the job will be done and who is responsible for what.
(d) Writing contracts based on agreements and

(d) Commencing

activities

based

on

broad

negotiations and ensuring all elements of the project are considered within the contract.
(e) Beginning

guidelines with specific contracts for activities directly relating to a particular project.
(e) Beginning work based on broad guidelines and

work

based

on

contractual

agreement with terms and conditions for each activity.


(f)

negotiating terms and conditions as a project unfolds.


(f)

Ensuring issues are dealt with based on contracts and the law.

Ensuring issues are dealt with internally via personal relationships.

Critical points There are certain critical points of contention when attempting to develop business opportunities that need to be factored into the equation. Primarily these points will be where there are significant differences in the way we do things. The balance will not always be with the one who has the power, but primarily with the one who wants the business most. Cross-culturally this may be quite difficult to assess and you will need to base your assumptions on the other parties' expectations. Here are some situations: 1. Negotiations - are usually the starting point of a business or personal exchange and often determine the relationship thereafter. Western businesspersons see these meetings as an opportunity to put forward their proposed model for the venture, a fairly cut-and-dried program that forms the basis for discussions. Westerners assume that the job at hand will define the relationship. They are often surprised that the Easterners appear to have no formal proposal on the table and instead wish to discuss issues outside the 'scope' of the job. Easterners define the job at hand by the relationships being developed. Westerners need to ask more questions to get a feel for the situation. Easterners need to be more willing to put forward their point of view. Neither side will understand the other unless they have a close personal rapport. 2. Status - is the basis for strong business relationships and is vital to the decision-making process. Thus the person chosen to represent the organisation should be as senior as possible and represent the overall interests of the organisation. In the East an individual's business skills and bargaining power is initially the key to respect rather than technical or professional capacity. In the West we tend to regard personal ability and proven technical skills as being superior. Sending the 'right person for the job' is a common business practice in the West. In the East sending the person with the 'right status for the relationship' is the general rule of thumb. Easterners prefer ascribed status, where a person is appointed to a position because of their influence in a group. In the West we favour achieved status, where one's position is determined by their personal effort. It is important to respect people both for their position and personal abilities. 3. Agreements - are usually in the form of contracts or memorandums of understanding between groups that have agreed to work together. In the West it is generally regarded that an agreement has been reached once the job at hand has been discussed and contracts have been signed. Contracts should cover all aspects of the project to ensure there are no 'grey areas'. Until then, nothing is concrete. In the East agreements
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usually begin and end with a handshake. Wordy, legalistic contracts are regarded with suspicion (Townshend, 1995:14). What contracts don't say are part of the business relationship and are dealt with in due course. Every single contingency cannot be met and is dealt with as it comes. The over-emphasis of the written word in Western business concerns those who believe that it diminishes the strength of personal relationships. The under-emphasis of the written word in Eastern business causes uncertainty in those who are not comfortable with relying on personal relationships in business matters. 4. Time - is relative to our expectations of it, and in the West we expect individuals to be organised and punctual. In the East time is more cyclical and subject to outside forces beyond individual control. Where Westerners seek to manipulate time, Easterners seek to work within its constraints. Life generally appears less hurried in the East, with leaders, because of their status, excused from being punctual. In the West life appears more hurried, because work is activity and leaders should be the most active of all. Westerners are expected to be punctual and Easterners are expected to be less pedantic about time. 5. Transfer - is the process and delivery of on-going business where ideas, technology and skills are applied to new business environments. Traditionally, the West has been regarded as the provider of technical skills, while the East has regarded its way of managing human relationships as being superior. Because both areas are the keys to achieving measurable business outcomes and benefits, it is vitally important that each side is comfortable with the role of the other. Whether it be in the East or West, understanding each other enough to transfer knowledge comes down to strong personal relationships and a well managed processour complementary strengths. 6. Conflicts - inevitably arise and are the most sensitive of all areas to deal with, as they impact most strongly on our cultural values. Because of the importance of harmony and personal relationships to Easterners, interpersonal skills in managing and resolving conflicts are regarded as being definitive of a good manager. Personal skills and knowledge without the ability to perceive and defuse conflicts are not highly regarded by Easterners. Western managers are more often judged on performance, sometimes to the detriment of their ability to resolve conflicts, as they prefer to solve them when they become a problem. This usually involves confronting the problem head-on, and personally dealing with the individuals involved. These very different ways of dealing with conflict makes it a most sensitive area for cross-cultural managers, as decisions which are seen to cut across cultural boundaries can spell the untimely end of a business venture. When East meets West To succeed in business where there is a significant cross-cultural element, we need to understand what motivates us to do what we do and why others react in certain ways. Of equal importance is the recognition of our own cultural values and those of others. Are we willing to live and work in an environment which is significantly different to our own? Do the risks involved outweigh the benefits? Only you can answer that, but it helps to know the cultural dynamics that influence the other person. In the next section we will be endeavouring to look at Eastern and Western outworkings of culture in management. The five key characteristics of a competent cross-cultural manager, according to Fish and Wood (1996:40), is their ability to: 1. Build strategic networks and form long term business alliances 2. Develop strong interpersonal skills apart from technical competence
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3. Know and be comfortable with their role in a new market and culture 4. Understand the new business culture, language and work environment 5. Competently transfer skills and technology in-market and manage them 3. IN MANAGEMENT Western Approach Managementthe successful handling, control and direction of an organisationis a very Western concept, implying strategies, processes, objectives and outcomes. We aspire to be good managers of our households, businesses and lives. For the purpose of this exercise I have confined management to its outworking in business. Management is fundamentally a cultural process of finding ways to reach objectives within an existing sociocultural system (Hofstede, 1983:7). Eastern and Western business and management practices make up the sum total of the issues we have studied in the previous sections of this book. Personal initiative and enterprise form the basis of Western management, with the successful business tycoon, professional or sportsperson admired for their ability to succeed and make it. It is said that anything is forgiven in our culture except failure and this is very much the case with management. The pressure to successfully complete or progress a program to its realisation is at the core of Western business. If you don't succeed, then someone is always waiting to take your place. This highly competitive environment leads to a strong desire to "get on with things" and only talk about what is relevant to the job at hand. We are prepared to negotiate, but only to gauge where we stand. Clear definitions, written contracts and signed agreements are what make us feel comfortable. It must be in writing. Planning ahead and goal setting can then follow, based on a written proposal. Logical thinking makes us look at cause and effecthow to bring about the cause that will lead to the result we want. This reliance on a system to achieve outcomes assumes that most spheres of business (and life) can be controlled by a similar process. It also leads to an innate confidence in our ability to solve problemseven if we expend all our current resources, science will come up with new ones to exploit. In the West, management is active, determined primarily by the business relationship between employer and employee, and is based on mutual advantage. Either party can terminate the relationship if it can be exchanged for a more beneficial deal elsewhere. The classic rule of supply and demand is also strongly adhered to in Western management. As such, lifetime employment in most organisations in the West has become a thing of the past. Being adaptable and showing initiative is the key. Therefore, we tend to view equality as being based on merit. If you are a high achiever and make a lot of money for the company, or if you are able to manage people well and motivate them as individuals in a group to work together and be productive, you are a successful manager and will be accorded status based on that merit. While the concept of merit is not always practiced in the West, it is a principle we strongly adhere to, believing that individuals should have the right to equal opportunities. Thus a strongly competitive vein runs through most business activities, especially management, as our individual expertise, skills and knowledge determine seniority. "To be judged on our personal merits", is an important philosophy, even though who you know and not what you know often still determines the final outcome.

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Eastern Approach In the East management is essentially about relationships between peopletheir successful combination makes for good business. We aspire to have good relationships with each other, because we know that these ties are more important than just being good at doing our job. Group initiatives and cohesion are the hallmarks of Eastern management, while strong leaders able to represent their group's interests are most admired. The ability to manage group interests lies at the core of Eastern business practices and filial duty forms the basis of these relationships. Family ties, which may be direct, tribal, religious or based on an agreed status between an individual and a group all form the basis for this type of business culture. These relationships are vital if you want to get ahead and patronage extends to all areas of management. What it means is that we don't necessarily judge people on their individual skills and knowledge, but on their status within the group. We often use terms of respect for people such as 'father' or 'mother', brother or sister, when in fact, they are not blood relations. This parent-child relationship defines Eastern management practices, and duty to each other and the group rates above personal merit. Interpersonal trust is such an integral aspect of management, that we place human relationships at the pinnacle of the organisation, far above systems and processes, preferring in many instances to modify a process or system for a person, in order to not jeopardise good work relations. A good manager is one who is able to maintain harmonious relationships internally and develop good business networks externally. This may not necessarily mean being the highest achiever in financial terms, or the most technically qualified, but rather the most respected representative of the firmone who knows how to 'do business' in the widest possible sense. Competition is far less marked or obvious in the East and this means that knowing how the organisation works is far more important in many cases than actually being productive. This does not mean that being productive is not regarded as being important or that there isn't much competition in business, but how good your personal relationship is with key decision-makers will often determine how far you can go in an organisation. Ultimately, management in the East is about developing trust with all those who matter to the organisation. This means that external contacts and friendships are as vital to managing a business as internal ones, since these political, social and cultural factors often determine the long term success or failure of a venture. Developing mutual trust by fostering close relationships with patrons of senior status and rank within and without our organisation, and through them enhancing our own status, rank and 'face', are key characteristics of Eastern management. To be respected and trusted by our peers and seniors in fulfilling our duties is the underlying aim of this management philosophy. When East meets West As East and West is brought closer together by global trade, management techniques become extremely important. We are interacting with each other more and more, yet in many ways do not understand the fundamentals of that exchange. As one of my business colleagues said to me recently, "We may speak the same language, but we are saying very different things." In Eastern cultures people think in terms of 'we' (our family, our organisation) and 'they' (others). In business, relatives and friends are given preferable treatment to strangers and this is the norm. It is expected. This sort of management culture is termed 'particularist'.
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An individualist culture on the other hand looks at 'me' and 'you', with the norm being that everyone should be treated equally (even though in practice this is not always the case). This sort of management culture is termed 'universalist'. These two distinct management cultures influence all manner of business. Outlined below is a summary of the key differences: Management Principles WESTERN
1. Relationship based on equality, merit

EASTERN
1. Relationship based on mutual benefit,

and individual ability


2. Personal and professional contacts are

duty and group dynamics


2. Contacts are regarded as being friends

put in different categories


3. Be firm, stick to principles and deal

once accepted in group


3. Save 'face', seek harmony and avoid

with problems immediately


4. Opinions determined by debate,

conflicts at all costs


4. Opinions predetermined by leaders

individual thinking and input


5. Individual skills and knowledge define

representing individuals in groups


5. Status and patronage where benefits

status with personal rewards

are shared with group

As more and more Easterners and Westerners work together, the negatives and positives of each other's management approach comes to the fore. In the West there is a tendency to place systems and processes before people, and apply rules and regulations without fear or favour. Easterners on the other hand, often mould systems and processes to suit certain individuals and view rules and regulations in a similar light. Neither is 'right' or 'wrong', for both have inherent weaknesses. The key is to know how these issues effect management and use them to your advantage. 4. IN POLITICS This section attempts to avoid political models and ideologies and instead concentrates on politics as they are in East and West. We will mainly be looking at peoples' attitudes and how and why certain political systems seem to suit particular worldviews. The contention will be that the outworking of politics is primarily socio-cultural, since ideologies and philosophies stem from similar roots. Western Approach Individual belief and persuasion characterises Western politics, with the freedom of the individual to vote for whomever they believe best represents their view. Western politics are by-and-large about debate under a tight constitutional rule of law. This means that decision-making is based on constitutional guidelines. Where agreement cannot be reached, law-making bodies, such as the Supreme Court, decide the constitutionality of a decision. Some friction exists between these bodies and this is regarded as an appropriate system of checks and balances. Government is viewed as directly representing the people and public servants and the bureaucracy as administrators of government policy, are servants of the
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people. While there is much cynicism in the West about this relationship, public servants and government members are usually held accountable for their actions and receive no extraordinary privileges from the judicial system. In the West, the media is heralded as the champion of the people, bringing wayward politicians and bureaucrats to account through investigative journalism. Journalists, like all of us, hold to certain views and beliefs and media owners often seek government patronage to gain more influence, so like all 'watchdog' organisations, have their own agendas. The key issue dictating the practice of Western politics is the freedom of the individual to say almost anything they want towhether positive or negativeand get away with it. Attempts by governments to impose regulations on freedom of speech via political correctness campaigns have mainly been ineffective. We believe that freedom of speech helps guarantee other individual rights. While inequality exists, we are provided avenues and opportunities to pursue justice via legal aid, lawyers, government representatives and advocacy groups. The aim of government in the West is that it be for the people and by the people, and even though this is not always how it works in reality, individual rights, equality and the rule of law are hallmarks of the Western political system. Even though we would class ourselves as having more freedom than societies in the East, we are governed by far more rules, regulations and guidelines that maintain our so-called 'freedom'. However, the tradition of separation between church and state has continued to be a buffer against the inclusion of class, religious and racial issues as dominant factors in the political process. Eastern Approach Group interests dominate Eastern politics, as do religious, racial, cultural and historical views. Cohesion defines Eastern politics and functional groups representing people groups in society often determine the way individuals vote. Decision-making is characterised by negotiating outcomes that are seen to be the best way forward in a particular situation, within a broad interpretation of a nation's constitution. The final decision is made by the leader of the day, with little recourse to the courts or religious bodies. Friction and conflict is avoided and the system of checks and balances lies in the leader's skill of interpreting what is best for the group.

We view government as leaders of the people and accept that bureaucrats and government members have positional privileges that individuals outside of this process do not have. They are not servants of the people, but rather respected members of the elite, and gaining favour with them is a good thing. Politics are determined by power, status, rank and class in society, thus political leaders and their minions are given much leeway in their actions. Respect, trust and loyalty underpin this system, and when abused, leaders can be removed, as they are seen to lack 'honour'. The issue of 'face' and honour influences the practice of politics in the East and the reporting of it by the media. Freedom of the press is recognised within certain boundaries. Namely, the good name of senior leaders and officials in society is not to be dishonoured by investigative journalists, who are after all of inferior status to government leaders. Reporting can be critical, provided it does not focus on individuals who are highly respected in society. Avoiding overt criticism of those with status in society is the key factor in Eastern politics. Negotiating change requires the right timing, forum and people to express our views. Student demonstrators may force change, but it is the senior representatives in society who have earned honour and respect that will decide the changes. The maintenance
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of harmony underpins Eastern politics. Therefore, individual freedoms which threaten group cohesion are avoided, since we believe that these freedoms often promote disharmony, resulting in a loss of freedom for all. When East meets West These differing views of freedom in the political process mean that our interpretation of each others political systems is often quite mistaken. On the one hand many Easterners view Western politics as being crass, churlish and divisive, with all views being acceptable in the political arena, even if they are not within the national interest. Westerners often view Eastern politics as being a facade of democracy underpinned by absolute rulers, corrupt practices and suppression of individual rightsall under the banner of maintaining national security and harmony. While there is a certain truth to these mutually shared views (we all think them sometimes), it is important to remember that democracy, politics and ideologies are all social phenomena, defining what is common and what is alien to a society (Macridis, 1980:6-7). If we can accept that worldviews and personal experiences define politics, it will help us to understand why some societies accept certain political models. This factor does not detract from the need to guard against the abuse of human rights, for that is a fundamental and God-given responsibility of us all. Understanding why Easterners and Westerns view rights from a different anglethe former from a group perspective, the latter from an individual perspectivewill help alleviate misunderstandings and the hubris so often associated with politics.

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CHAPTER 4

Working out Cultural Differences


As we can see from the previous chapters of this book, differences in worldview and cultural values have a significant effect on the way we live our lives. Now that we have a better understanding of the outworking of culture in a number of familiar environments we move on to the key objective of this bookattempting to bridge the cultural divide. In this chapter we will be looking at some of the most likely areas of cultural contention and seeking practical solutions to them. 1. IN FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS The most likely area of contention in any society is the human element, and even in similar cultures, interpersonal relations are the most difficult to foster and maintain. The further apart our cultural roots, the more chance for disagreement. For those who have worked across Eastern and Western cultures, this fact will have been reinforced many times over. Western Expression Due to our emphasis on the individual, personal expression is encouraged, as it defines who we are. While there are certainly strong social taboos that control anti-social behaviour, displaying emotions such as anger, sadness and hostility are acceptable in certain situationseven justifiable. Where our 'rights' have been maligned or suppressed in some way, displaying the emotions associated with our displeasure are fine. As adults we learn strong social taboos, such as not crying in public, especially for males, and not appearing too aggressive, if you are female. By-and-large at the interpersonal level it is considered normal for us to have strong disagreements. Resolving disagreements requires each of us to have 'our' say. Being firm with each other and not backing down on matters of principle is also important, as is being honest with our feelings. (I can remember my Dayak friends saying to me, "Why are your parents fighting?" I would explain to them that they weren't fighting, just having a disagreement and discussing it.) This also gets down to the disciplining of children, where parents show strong displeasure towards children in public and even spank them. We believe that it is far better to allow personal conflicts to be resolved by confrontation before they get out of hand and fester into an even worse situation. However there has been a move in the West to absolve individuals of personal responsibility by blaming their upbringing and attributing this to their anti-social behaviour. The high level of stress and heart disease in the West cannot merely be attributed to diet, but also to the emphasis on individual effort and achievement. In the large urbanised areas of the West, the cult of individualism has caused many to become socially isolated. This isolation of the individual from the wider society's values makes us act in accordance with how we feel, rather than what others expect of us, contributing to the high number of divorces, family breakdowns and homicides. Yet freedom of expression continues to provide a forum for overall social stability. There is an increasing realisation in the West that our high levels of stress and the emphasis on the individual to cope and 'go it alone' has been unhealthy, both physically and socially.

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A return to 'traditional values' has been touted as a panacea for our woes and the increasing interest in Eastern (and traditional Western) values of family and community are becoming ever more popular. Nevertheless, if anything threatens our personal choice and freedom, then we regard it as being bad and so remaining true to one's self in expressing feelings is paramount. Eastern Expression Feelings are displayed through our emotions and because of the difference in the way we express them, Easterners and Westerners often misunderstand the intentions of the other. Easterners are the first to admit that they have difficulty expressing their emotions. Eastern culture dictates that adults should be serenely composed and in harmony with those around them. This means any strong display of emotion is a sign of one's inability to be in harmony with their environment. Certain 'positive' emotions are acceptable, such as laughter and occasionally tears, but 'negative' emotions such as anger or hostility are not acceptable. We are easily offended and extremely sensitive to criticism, preferring to avoid any sort of confrontation. To achieve this we use 'face' to its full extent, admiring those able to hide their emotions behind a smiling face. We even smile when we are angry. We prefer to negotiate, often with the use of a trusted go-between, and in this way avoid direct contact with someone with whom we disagree. Because harmony within the group is a key element in life, those who are not in harmony with the group risk being ostracised. Children are not often physically punished, except in anger. Rather, they are excluded from the group. This fear of exclusion is the strongest motivator not to deviate from the values of the group. To do this we internalise our emotions, burying them behind a facade of goodwill, which often hides deep-seated resentment and anger. An unwillingness to forgive and forget leads to revenge being commonplace. "Asians never forget wrongdoing," was the comment of a Chinese friend. Yet we are surprisingly pragmatic, realising that in some instances it is best to do nothing at all. One does not fight to win if personal victory damages group stability. According to Doctor Leslie Lyall, a doctor who served many years in China and Annette Rattray, a medical nurse and mid-wife, who has over 20 years medical experience in Indonesia, a common ailment amongst Asians, resulting from internalised emotions, is ulcers and associated stomach disorders. Allowing emotions to simmer without release gives rise to violent and destructive behaviour when we are no longer able to suppress our feelings. The Indonesian word amuk, from which the English term "to run amok" comes, aptly describes this state of mind. Amongst the young, educated upper-class, individual values have been embraced strongly, as have the demands for more freedom of expression, but respect for elders and seniority has by-and-large remained the strongest force in Eastern culture. The importance of 'family' in the widest possible sense has meant that Easterners regard preserving 'good face' and unity as being more important than expressing feelings. Personal feelings and emotions are subservient to group interests. When East meets West The outworking of emotions at the interpersonal level are the most likely area of conflict between Easterners and Westerners, and because of associated cultural sensitivities, are the most difficult to resolve. Because of the potential for emotional conflicts to irreparably damage relationships, it is advisable that this area be handled with extreme care.
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When Westerners and Easterners interact, the cultural dynamics of relationships must be uppermost in our minds. How we express ourselves should take into account the cultural issues discussed. Especially for Westerners, understanding the cultural sensitivities which dictate emotional etiquette, is vital. This requires the development of a personal friendship with an Eastern counterpart who is able to mentor you through the rocky road of relationships with people who, from the Western perspective, are 'thin skinned'. Easterners on the other hand recognise they are easily offended and should endeavour to be more open, and they are, but only once a significant amount of trust has developed in the relationship to warrant it. Thus the initial phase of contact is the most important in bridging the cultural divide, and will determine the future of any joint activity. The 'right attitude' is the key and even though difficult to define, most of us know and understand what it means. 2. IN RELIGION AND BELIEF Western approach: Personal Choice In the West, religion is something intensely personal. We don't talk about it much and probing into another person's beliefs is usually seen to be interfering. Religion and politics are regarded as being contentious subjects and are thus not discussed in polite conversation. The only time we bring up religion and personal beliefs is at funerals and when we've had a few drinks! Individual choice makes religion personal: "It's my business!" This factor contributes to our desire to encourage others to believe in what we believe. If they choose to believe in something or nothing then that's okay, provided that they believe that to be true. Freedom of choice means that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want. There is not a great diversity of religions in the WestCatholic or Protestant being the most commonhowever the diversity of beliefs is quite astonishing. Most Westerners do not practice a religion, but simply adhere to its general belief system. In fact people are suspicious of those who believe strongly in personal truth and revelation, as this implies truth is absolute and that other points of view are wrong. The strong emphasis on rationalism and tolerance tends to discount God as actually existing. Rather, God as a concept is an option for explaining the meaning of life. Scientific thought dominates the Western concept of the origins of life and the spiritual element or noumenon has largely been discounted by the scientific method because it is not devisable by these rules. Thus evolutionary thought dominates current Western belief systems. To the agnostic Westerner (one who believes only in what can be sensed and investigated in the laboratory), our similar physical composition to animals, presupposes that we are simply a more developed animal. By studying the origins of life we believe we are better able to control our destinies. We are always looking to control our lives, to find meaning and self-fulfilment. Largely discounting an after-life, our purpose in life is to make the most of it because we are not going to get a second chance. Value judgements are our own choice. This means being largely true to oneself and deciding on our own set of alternative values. What one chooses the other may not. Each of us must find our own path in life. Belief in the supernatural is a difficult concept for most Westerners, as it isn't 'real'. Spirits, demons and angels arose out of our primitive past as attempts to explain any phenomena we don't understand. Modern science will come up with an answer, and if it doesn't then it isn't worth worrying about. The predominant view in the West is that life ends when we die.

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Eastern approach: Group conformance Religion in the East is an integral part of the culture of the people. Families follow a religion and individuals as members of a community follow the beliefs of the group. Religion is part and parcel of lifedetermining our behavioursso we are always interested in discussing other religions as this opens our thinking to the way others live their lives. It also helps paint a picture of the person against the background of their beliefs. People are encouraged to change their religion if they are entering a different people group through marriage or if it enhances their status in society. Tolerance of other religions is part of our culture, but for individuals who change their religion it can be a different story. We see an individual's choice to change their religion as rejecting their current group. This can mean being ostracised from family, friends and community. There is a great diversity of religions in AsiaIslam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Animism and Spiritualismall with their different belief systems. Most Asians practice religion based on a pantheistic model, which recognises God as being inseparable from his creation. God is the universe. The origins of man hold little fascination for us. It is living in the world and being in harmony with it that really matters. This means learning to relate to the spiritual and material forces which make up the world, as this is the key to being in tune with the universe. We look to find meaningto both the natural and supernatural world to find meaning . All religions hold the promise of an after-life: heaven or hell, nirvana, sebayan is where individuals go after physical death. Spirits, demons, angels and nature itself influence our daily lives, and in turn can be influenced by us. Thus we seek the wisdom of respected members of our religious community to advise us on these matters. What our elders tell us is extremely important in relation to spiritual matters and we respect their views because they are our link to the past. We accept things that happen to us as being fateit was meant to be. Life is a cycle of good and bad, we have to experience both to attain enlightenment. Respect for our ancestors is another strong Eastern tradition. It is to a certain extent a religious belief based on the Confucian tradition. We don't just think of ourselves, but of our children and families when we work, not of just personal fulfilment but of long term prosperity for them as well. We want to be looked after by our group and family, thus we must provide for their future. If we break this chain of dependence on one another this may affect universal harmony. The way we treat others will directly affect not only our treatment in the after-life but our luck here and now. Respecting our elders and ancestors is a vital religious belief. When East meets West Personal response as opposed to group conformity in religious belief has its roots in Western history. Individual rights have been severely curtailed by religious persecution, and in the West, separation of church and state is deeply ingrained in our psyche. By avoiding religion in everyday life it is believed that we are able to minimise the potential for discrimination. We can believe whatever we like. Easterners view religion as part of their culture. It defines them as individuals and aligns them with a particular community. Religious affiliations can and do influence status in society, and this is an accepted part of life. In collective Eastern societies what we do is the key and religious practice is important to our place in the group. Rituals, worship and alms giving are all part of maintaining group identity and universal harmony. Almost all individuals know the tenets of their religion, but few understand the doctrines which underpin them.
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Most Malay will tell you they are Muslim because they are Malay. If asked why they are Muslim they will tell you it is because their family is Muslim. Many Westerners view with suspicion 'blind' adherence to religion. You must know what you believe. We always want to know why. Because many Westerners believe that nothing is absolute, we prefer to be sceptics, rather than to be religious. One of the first questions you will be asked by an Easterner is, "What is your religion?" There are various shades to this question, but the most important one is to find out your religion and ensure that they do not offend you in what they say. Westerners view these questions as being 'personal' and often resent them. If we are not religious we often say we do not have a religion. This attitude surprises Asians, as they cannot understand why you would not have a religion and be proud it. When in Asia it is best to have at least a nominal religion, rather than none at all. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that there is a little bit of eternity in all of us. Materialism and wealth can be empty treasures without family, friends and community. An exclusive belief should not be "fundamentalist", just due to it being different from our own. Respect for each other's beliefs is the key to harmony in relationships, but we need to believe in something to be respected. We should at least be prepared to discuss these issues. 3. IN ETHICS AND PRINCIPLES Western Approach: Separation of power While religion has taken a back seat in modern Western life and thinking, ethics and principles get top billing. Ethics and principles are the contextualisation of religious beliefs and philosophy into a less exclusive package. We believe that by practicing recognised ethics and principles in business and public life that individuals will be more likely to receive equal treatment. The basis of ethics and principles in the West is to seek equality. The strength of them is in the rule of law, where (in most cases) they are applied across the board irrespective of a person's social position. Current Western thinking views personal morality as separate from public ethics. Thus what one does in private has no bearing on their public life unless it directly affects their job performance or the people to whom they are responsible. This strong separation of personal and public life affects the way we do business, handle finances and deal with others. We can do whatever we want with our personal property, but we are not to misuse public office, influence or money. Separation of power is the underlying principle of ethics in the West. To successfully separate power, different responsibilities must be stated and policed. Western political institutions, business organisations and private bodies are required by law to institute checks and balances to ensure transparency. Other groups are also able to check whether we are following the rules. To do this, guidelines must be written in clear and concise texts that allow for minimal deviation. Following the 'letter of the law' and due diligence are vital to this system. Great credence is placed on the written word, as it provides 'proof' of what we have committed verbally to do. We admire those in society who can successfully separate their personal and public lives. "I don't care what someone does in private as long as they do their job well," is an oft heard comment in the West. Because we are all individuals, we believe that it's wrong to use someone's personal morality against them publicly. What you believe to be true is all that matters, as long as you stick to what society regards as being right and wrong. 'Political correctness', a current by-product of this thinking, attempts to determine equality through restraint of gender specific words.
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Eastern Approach: Concentration of power The practice of religion is part and parcel of Eastern life, as it defines different communities and reinforces the harmony of the group. Ethics, principles, personal morality and philosophy are seen in a much more holistic light and are based on our religious beliefs. What is expected of us in public and private life will be dependant on our religion, and above all else, our status in society. Ethics and principles in the East are based on group interests within the context of a strong hierarchy of moral and religious practices. In the East we do not separate personal and public morality, as they are one and the same. What one does in private does have an affect on public life, since a disruption of harmony, no matter where it occurs, is bad. It is expected that those with senior status in society will gain extra benefits, since they are the custodians of the group. Concentrating public and private power affects the way we do business, deal with others and handle money. Leaders, at any level, are expected to use their status to help others, thus the line between private and public property can be very fine indeed. Because of these factors, leaders are given a lot of leeway in decision-making, even though they are ultimately expected to make decisions that are in the best interests of the group. Eastern political institutions, business organisations and private bodies are required to reach a consensus to institute checks and balances. The principle of musyawarah as mentioned in the 'Pancasila' or five key principles of the Indonesian state runs: "Democracy wisely led by deliberations between representatives." These representatives interpret the 'spirit of the law' and these agreements can be more binding than the law. We admire leaders for their ability to lead the group and express our interests through their own. It is expected that leaders will show favouritism and take some liberties because of their position. What is important is that they practice the majority religion (or belief) of the group and reflect these values in their lives. Inequality is part of life, so there is no point blaming our leaders. Instead we hope that our leaders will determine "right" from "wrong" according to the traditions and religious values that control our destinies and harmony with the universe. When East meets West While almost everyone agrees that we need ethics and principles to survive as a cohesive society, determining what is right and wrong is much more difficult. Incredible changes in the East and West due to urbanisation and technology have changed many of the principles once believed to be absolute. Absolute truth is truth that is objective, universal and constant (McDowall & Hostetler, 1994:17). These values are usually found in religion. Westerners follow Judaeo-Christian ethics and principles. Easterners usually follow Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist ethics. These religions have very different values, though many of the ethics and principles are similar. However, where truth is no longer regarded as absolute and becomes a personal decision, problems can arise. We see many horrific crimes in the West where individuals justify their deeds as being 'right' because they believe them to be so. Gays, feminists, capitalists and environmentalists all believe that they have the right to choose their own morality. These competing interests are usually best served by trying to keep everyone on an equal footing through rules and regulations. When leaders in the East make choices for other individuals they do it because they believe they are serving the best interests of the group. These choices are influenced by those who are owed favours or deserve loyalty, such as family and friends. Problems arise when private and public resources are not kept separate and influence decisions.
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In this sort of environment transparency in government, bureaucracy and business is minimal and corruption and bribery can become commonplace. Many Easterners look to the West and see us as being immoral, while Westerners often perceive Easterners to be dishonest. Neither is absolutely true. The need to follow absolutes in morality and honesty are difficult, but should be pursued if we are to have strong ethics and principles. As Singapore's elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew says, "All durable cultures must uphold honesty." (McCarthy, 1998:42) To do that requires strong moral values. In this case it is important for us to know our ethical boundaries and find out those of our counterparts. Then we need to decide whether we are willing to work within their moral parameters. 4. IN LANGUAGE AND CUSTOMS Western Language: Literal, informal, facts-driven Language is communicated culture and the primary means of interacting with others. The language we speak defines us culturally and transfers our knowledge and learning via particular media. In the West the written word is of paramount importance, as it can be used as a reference on which to build and pass on knowledge. It is also more 'scientific', able to be checked against other documents to verify its authenticity. Thus especially in English, the dominant Western language, language comes in all sorts of genre or styles, which we understand relate to specific uses, such as academic, journalistic, legal and political writing styles. We are primarily concerned with 'facts'. English is a literal, matter-of-fact language, "what I say I mean". We use innuendo and humour very successfully to circumvent and expand the boundaries imposed on our language by its rather tight structure. Depending on which English-speaking country we hail from will influence somewhat our presentation of it. The British are generally quite formal and reserved and follow more protocols in expressing their language. Americans, despite their Hollywood image of being 'loud-mouthed Yanks', also follow certain protocols and use forms of address such as, "Sir" and "Madam" when addressing others. Australians on the other hand prefer direct informality: trying to rid themselves of the 'plum in the mouth British-ness' of their former colonial masters and avoid the 'cultural imperialism' of the United States. Another category of English is found in the former British colonies of the East, where there is Singapore English, Malaysian English and Indian English, each with their various Eastern customs melded into the language. While we may have trouble understanding each other, it but serves to show the versatility of English, and its dominance as the language of business, finance, academia, media and the arts. The dominance of English has caused many English-speakers to assume that others should learn English if they want to communicate with us, as if the language itself is the medium on which learning, knowledge and business is based. This often [subconscious] view is termed 'linguistic (or intellectual) arrogance'. Western Customs: Informal, direct and individualistic To a certain extent our customs reflect our language, or maybe its the other way around. Either way, Westerners generally admire informality in relationships, as this underlines the equality of the exchange. We don't particularly like long-winded greetings or inordinate protocols, as this signifies 'hot air' and possibly a lack of sincerity, rather than being direct. What we consider 'rhetorical', especially the variety used by many of our politicians is not considered proper outside of fairly limited contexts.
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Usually we like to get to the point and stick to it. This cultural trait manifests itself when meeting: a strong handshake, firm gaze and direct greeting best serve to get across our individual nature. We keep our greetings short and to the point and don't see the purpose of pretending that we really like someone when we don't or if we don't know them very well. If we show too much familiarity with someone they may think we want something from them or that we are trying to gain favour in their eyes. This could serve to make a relationship unequal. Thus especially in the workplace, these protocols are observed religiously. We consider it demeaning to: "Suck up to the boss" or "Kiss butt", as this implies we are no longer being accepted in our own right but based on our relationship with a superior. Guarding our own personal space is another strong Western cultural trait, where we tend to avoid close physical contact with members of the same sex [in public] and like to keep our distance from people we don't know well. In conversation we like keeping to safe subjects not too close to the heart and not likely to expose too much of our individual selves. We are not particularly reflective (especially males) and like to stick to the facts and to what is obvious. Now and the future are more important, rather than our immediate past and that of our families. The primary emphasis of Western culture is individualism. Avoiding situations where that individualism is threatened is vital. We dislike customs which identify us racially, historically or religiously. Westerners form friendships with those they like or who have similar interests. Our customs reflect that. We like to be taken on the "what you see is what you get" basis, preferring to be seen as separate and distinct individuals. Eastern Languages: Oral, formal, rhetoric-driven There are so many languages in the East that I will not attempt to approach them linguistically, but rather from their overall manifestation in culture. I will use Indonesian and Malay, my cultural background, as a basis for some conclusions. In the East the oral tradition is strong, as it allows elders and seniors to pass on important information to the group. We learn what we are told and believe it to be true. It is not our role to question what we are told but to use it and put it into practice to the best of our ability. Rhetoric, especially in speaking, is vital, as style, presentation and persona are most important. Most Asian languages are contextual, poetic languages, allowing us to engage each other in conversation without needing to be direct or 'offensive', by leaving the underlying meaning unsaid, but perfectly understood. In writing, this becomes even more subtle, as it is the art of the word's true meaning that we are conveying. It is the skill of the reader or listener in understanding what is really being said that is most admired. Our humour is thus more 'slapstick', relying on situations to explain the humour of our words. Because of our innate desire not to offend, all Eastern cultures have strong protocols which are observed when meeting. We recognise status at all times, and accord those of higher status special terms, such as the Indonesian "Bapak" or "Ibu" (Father or Mother) to indicate our respect for those senior in age or status. Even though Asian cultures are quite different, the rhetoric of respect permeates all these languages and their forms of address are similar. This means that important people at functions and meetings must be addressed according to their statusno one can be left out, otherwise we will have offended someone's honour. Honour is very important and it is most often expressed through language. Those who have honour are those who know the right protocols to observe in a particular language.
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Even though English is the medium of communication between many Easterners, and is recognised as the means of gaining Western knowledge, that's where it ends. Our linguistic history is long and glorious and our cultural values and emphasis on relationships surpass Western values. Sometimes this is termed 'cultural arrogance'. Eastern Customs: Formal, indirect and collective The strong emphasis on hierarchy in relationships colours Eastern customs, requiring us to take into account the formality of the exchange according to the person's status. We like long-windedness and rhetoric, because it gives us time to assess the relationship based on a mutual trust in each other's status. If we hurry an initial meeting we may misunderstand the degree of respect needing to be accorded the other person, or give them too much 'face'. Either way we belittle them. The key skill is getting to the point without appearing to force the issue. When meeting others these cultural traits come to the fore: a soft handshake, an inclining or bowing of the head and an indirect greeting according to each others status. When the informal greeting is over we defer to the person of higher status, allowing them to determine the rules of engagement. We always appear to like someone, even if we don't and after meeting someone once will always remember them as a 'friend'. We accept inequality in relationships and thus expect people of lower rank to seek favours from those of higher status. In return they demand our loyalty and get it. There is nothing wrong with that. Because we have grown up in large extended families we feel uncomfortable with personal space and prefer to be in close (often physical) contact with people of the same sex, whereas we avoid close [public] contact with those of the opposite sex. Even with those we don't know well, we are quick to seek their inclusion into our group by asking them questions about their families, marrital status, work and income. The key is to establish a mutual trust on which to build a relationship. We like to be reflective and discuss history and our family's place within it. Talking about shared pasts and the here an now help determine inclusion in the group. The primary emphasis of Eastern culture is its collectiveness. We avoid situations where we must act as individuals without a group identity. Thus we are happy when we are defined by our race, history and religion. It allows us to develop relationships with those who recognise our group identity and are willing to fit into it. We like to be taken as we appear and accorded the status fitting our place in society. This can only be achieved if as an individual I align myself with a particular social group. When East meets West While a language can be learned separate from its culture and the learner may come to know the language quite well, it is understanding language within its cultural context that defines a real communicator. Because Eastern and Western cultures are so different, this is no easy task. We may become quite fluent in each other's languages, but never really work out the actual dynamics of one another's culture. What becomes fundamentally important to working out cultural differences in language and customs is to understand their meaning. Our languages and customs are really a social 'buffer', allowing us to hide behind words and practices with which we are comfortable. In Eastern cultures where bonds between people count for so much, it is not primarily law which channels and corrects human behaviour. Rather it is the related concepts of honour and shame. Eastern languages and customs faithfully reflect this view in their expression. The aim is to avoid shame at all costs and seek honour.
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This may mean saying something we don't really mean, or taking on a responsibility we can't possibly accomplish simply to save face. There are, for example, numerous shades to the word "yes" in Eastern languages. It may mean 'yes I hear you', 'yes', 'no', 'maybe', or 'definitely not'. The Western perspective of language is that it be the tool of the individual, thus for it to have numerous nuances is to make it an inefficient means of communication. Because we are individuals and like to be taken as such we uphold 'honesty' to mean saying things as they are. Lying is not telling truth as it is. If someone has done the wrong thing, it is not up to us to save their face, let them take the blame for it. Right and wrong relates to a law or rule. 'Yes' usually means yes and 'no' means no. While we know that these mores are not always practiced, they remain ideals of our society and those who practice them still receive admiration. We know we have different values, yet these values can become a bone of contention or a beneficial tool to expand our way of thinking and doing things. Overcoming cultural differences, the topic of our final chapter, will attempt to give some helpful hints and methods of building and maintaining strong cross-cultural relationships.

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CHAPTER 5

Overcoming Cultural Differences


In this section we will recap some of the key issues that influence our cultures and look at ways to overcome them. After studying some of these principles it would then be helpful to study your 'target culture' more carefully. That culture may be in another country, state or right here where you work or live. Of one thing you can be sure, as the world becomes a more multicultural place, being able to overcome cultural differences will pay dividends for you personally and professionally. Business and management today is about people and people are about culture. 1. IN LEARNING CULTURE The first thing we need to do is recognise that there is a strong cultural divide between East and West. Hopefully this book has convinced you beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the case. If it has, read on, for this final chapter contains some positive advice on how we can bridge this cultural divide together. Learning to enjoy the often treacherous waters of cross-cultural differences and develop long-standing friendships is daunting, but with the right attitude and understanding quite achievable. Getting together The initial meeting and greeting lays the foundation of the ensuing relationship, so if you want it to work out you better try and get it right the first time. We need to remember here how Easterners and Westerners express themselves when greeting. Easterners tend to be more formal and project a calm, friendly and polite manner. Westerners are usually more informal, and project a relaxed and personable manner. Easterners are status conscious and want to know what group you belong to, your marital status, education and job position. The Westerner is more interested in the individualtheir job, skills, hobbies and abilities. In this book I have not attempted to go into a vast amount of detail about the do's and don'ts of Eastern and Western cultural etiquette, as much of the information provided in these awareness type books is 'cultural overkill', which seems to assume the reader lacks common sense. There are however a few common points of cultural etiquette to be observed when meeting Easterners. I cover this more extensively in my cultural profile Understanding Indonesians (Rattray, 1998:41):

Shaking hands is a common practice when meeting and this must always be done with the right hand. When giving or receiving money or any other small items the right hand should always be used. Even with larger items where both hands are required it is recommended that the right hand be the first hand to grasp the object being handed to you. The left hand tangan in Indonesian culture is considered tangan kotor, haram or sial. This concept has a number of cultural connotations. Tangan means hand and kotor dirty; the understanding being that the left hand is used for cleaning oneself after being to the toilet. Haram is an Arabic word which means forbidden or unclean and has a similar connotation to kotor, while sial or 'misfortune' represents a wide belief that touching certain parts of the body can bring bad luck. It is also considered bad manners to touch someone on the head or to show overt affection in public.

This practice applies pretty much throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East and to a lesser extent in North Asia. Showing familiarity with anyone is considered rude, though affection amongst members of the same sex is quite common.
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It is hard to get used to other guys trying to hold your hand or put their arm around you even though there is nothing being suggested by the display other than friendship. Easterners will always smile and often banter with each other, but tend to be more reserved than Westerners. Westerners can appear to be fairly abrupt, but this is mainly because they are uncomfortable with close physical contact. Safe environments for Westerners are usually those outside of the home, family and personal lifein locations where neither person has the advantage. We prefer to be at work if we are relying on our technical or professional expertise to impress. For the Easterner a safe environment is where their group values are reinforced in favourite eating places, the family home or on special religious and social occasions. We usually work at work and do business away from it. Important decisions are made with family and friends around. For the Easterner the key is to see us acting and reacting in the social setting before they become interested in our professional skills. Westerners, on the other hand, like to see an individual's performance in narrower terms, relating to the specific abilities they bring to the relationship. Remember: Being willing to extend ourselves in relationships to allow the mutual building of trust requires a great deal of patience. Building relationships After an initial bond has begun to develop it is vitally important to continue to foster the friendship, and this applies in business or otherwise. Easterners view a relationship worth pursuing as a potentially life-long one and like to take their time. One of the ways to reinforce 'family' bonds is through the written word and Easterners are prolific writers. This can be a problem if neither speaks the other's language. In either case, an on-going correspondence is necessary, usually via an intermediary. As has been previously mentioned, the written word is used by Easterners as Westerners speak verbally. Therefore, even in a business relationship Easterners like to hear how you and your family are fairing, not just of the more impersonal business needing to be attended to. Westerners will find it difficult to escape the inclusive nature of relationships when dealing with Easterners and this applies even more if you are doing business in the East. Easterners in the West must accept that Western business is mostly confined to business hours and requires 'getting down to business'. Westerners like to follow a fairly strict timetable and expect it to be followed. In the West sticking to timetables is a key element in developing respect in relationships and tardiness is not appreciated. Being organised is a highly prized commodity in the West. For Westerners building friendships in the East, respect is gained by being flexible and not putting your cards down on the table too fast. Otherwise you will be regarded as unwise. Disclosing deadlines is also unwise as it gives your counterpart a line in the sand on which to bargain, and Easterners are masters in the art of bargaining. Remember: Eastern contacts will want to consider they are able to trust you socially before entering into a business deal. That is the level of trust being sought. In the West, punctuality and precision are more highly regarded. Making decisions The decision-making process can be long and drawn out, especially when there are two completely different cultures involved, as both sides have to determine 'trust' from their respective views of it. Easterners don't necessarily take a long time to make decisions, just a fair while to make up their minds. There is a difference.
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A venture is considered from all sides and angles, not just those relating, for example, to a particular project. Once a decision is made, the speed with which a venture takes off can be a real surprise to Westerners. Westerners consider a project started once it has been agreed to, whereas Easterners consider a venture begun when it has strated. Just because an agreement has been reached doesn't necessarily mean that everything following it is a sure thing. A 'yes' in the East is simply an affirmative, a verbal sign of intent, and a contract is seen to be the written version of it. Westerners on the other hand view the contract as a tangible sign that everything has been agreed to, and if no objections are made at the contract stage, we should be able to move on to the next stage reasonably sure that it will go ahead. Here is where many East-West business relationships become unstuck. To the Westerner a contract is a legally binding document of law. To the Easterner it is a working document of principles to be negotiated. Because relationships are based on personal friendships, Easterners feel that agreements can be renegotiated if they are no longer mutually beneficial. Once a deal has been struck in the West and a contract entered into it is unlikely that it will be renegotiated except in extreme circumstances. Once again we get back to slightly differing versions of trust. A sign of trust in the West is sticking to your word and the letter of the law. If you didn't get the advantage you wanted this time, better luck next time. A sign of trust in the East is being flexible enough to change if your colleague is at an obvious disadvantage or the conditions of an agreement change. Bartering is something that all Easterners enjoy doing, so it is inconceivable that such a tight margin or timeline is being followed that there is little room for negotiation. Remember: In the East it is better to go in high and be flexible, as you can be assured of a bargaining process. In the West there is less flexibility in margin and scope, so keep it tight. Getting agreement This aspect of negotiations can be very interesting, especially when the expectations of both sides may be poles apart. Because Westerners like to be organised they prefer to lay things out in a fairly detailed strategy, then check and countercheck to make sure everything is right. Easterners prefer to build trust at the personal level before developing more detailed plans. For them it is faith in the people and the overall project, not the details that really count. If the big picture appeals to their sense of mutual benefit, the rest can be negotiated in due course. Bartering and bargaining is one way this personal profile of individuals is developed. Negotiating and renegotiating business is a game of brinkmanship, but not necessarily in a negative sense. Those with honour bargain, those without it don't. Westerners find this interminable bargaining tedious. In fact, appearing too flexible in terms and conditions seems to be a lack of efficiency and organisation. This of course can be the case, but the Eastern facade can often be deceiving. Appearing to have all the time in the world is a means of getting the best deal. The one who 'loses their cool first is the one who loses the best deal. I have had Chinese friends casually agree over dinner to things we had been haggling about for days or weeks. Pushing for a deal is the Western way. In the East there is a 'right time' for everything. An example cited by Dennis Lane (1995:37) in One World Two Minds of an American businessman in Japan probably best sums it up:
Visiting his Japanese counterpart one evening, he carried in his pocket a contract for signing. Being culturally sensitive, he said nothing during the evening, which passed pleasantly with social chitchat. As he reached the doorway on leaving, his friend said, "By the way, I think you brought a contract with you tonight. May I please have it?"
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When the American handed him the document the Japanese businessman went straight to the end of the document, signed it and handed it back. Astonished that he had not even read the contract, the American asked him, "Are you not going to read it?" "No," said the Japanese, "You are the kind of man I like to do business with."

Remember: To the Westerner an agreement is followed to the letter. To an Easterner it is a declaration of trust and the starting point for further negotiation. Maintaining agreements Against the backdrop of the previous section getting the 'green light' is a little more difficult than signing a contract and getting a qualified 'yes'. When is the 'yes' qualified? Will it be honoured? Does it include a bribe? What constitutes a bribe? These thoughts fly around in our heads when we consider options in these situations. First of all it must be said that if you do business with Easterners in the East you must be prepared to negotiate. If you are an Easterner doing business in the West, don't expect your Western counterparts to be nearly as flexible as they were prior to a signed agreement. Mocthar Lubis (1988:9) in his treatise on Indonesian society laments that corruption in its various forms has become part of the social fabric of the nation. I am sure that anyone who watches the news and keeps an eye on current affairs in the West is less than happy with public and private accountability in our nations, though strong fiscal management is a key Western strongpoint. In this case regards to corruption, I can only speak from personal experience and that of my business colleagues. While a problem in the East, if strong personal relationships are developed prior to major financial exposure and a good level of trust is established, bribery in its purest forms can and should be avoided. Where payments for services rendered come into play, then these issues will have to come down to your own view of right and wrong. Here is a personal example:
My father was asked to negotiate some disputed land we had acquired for the building of an airfield. According to the land titles, our organisation had land tenure. Dad met with the most senior local Agrarian official who agreed that we definitely were 'in the right'. Even though we had won, after some discussion amongst ourselves, we decided to officially hand over a relatively large sum of good-will money to the complainant for the sake of good on-going relations with the locals. He received the money with gratitude, appreciating our respect for him.

Was this a bribe? It certainly was not perceived to be so by the locals, officials or us. It was seen as a tangible show of good-will. Remember: Maintaining agreements should not be about winning or losingthat can spell real trouble in the East. Flexibility helps overcome these issues, even in the West, and is vital to long-term agreements. Mutual respect To learn about others and to keep relationships going requires a good dose of mutual respect. When East and West come together this factor becomes imperative. Because Easterners are so good at hiding their feelings and Westerners tend to show their emotions more openly, this area can be a minefield. The right attitude is the key. For a Westerner it is much harder to 'pretend'. Easterners are able to feign contentment most of the time. Deciding on what level of respect to accord someone in the East depends on many mitigating factorsage, status, seniority, religion, to name a few. In the West it is primarily based on our skills, ability and professionalism. Learning to show respect is critical and more important to Easterners than being efficient or professional. When Westerners come across in their 'business-like' manner it immediately gets Easterners 'backs up'. Westerners on the other hand are often surprised and disappointed by the lack of 'professionalism' displayed by Easterners.
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Mutual respect effects agreements, causing parties that feel disrespected to renege on deals. An example quoted in the AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW Thursday, February 26, 1998 is a case in point:
"The moment when Michel Camdesus stood, arms folded, over President Soeharto as he signed the IMF deal was for many Indonesians, an intolerable sign of colonialism."

In defence of Mr Camdesus, according to French custom, folding of the arms is a sign of deference to a more senior figure, however even in the West this type of body language is regarded negatively. For Asians it is almost as condescending as standing with one's hands on hips. Standing above or over someone of senior status is definitely not showing respect. Easterners have a perception of Westerners as being arrogant and this type of disrespect has its roots in the colonial era. We may not like it, but Westerners must understand that these underlying feelings remain. Some Eastern traits also annoy us: the tendency to not stand in line, but to push in is one often-heard comment. Expecting special treatment because of status is another one. Easterners need to keep in mind that Westerners are more egalitarian. Remember: Easterners are very easily offended and take it personally, whereas Westerners tend to be less 'thin skinned'. Be humble and win or offend at your own peril. 2. TALKING CULTURE To be able to learn culture properly we need to speak it. Some of the hints in the previous sections are helpful starting points, but to speak culture requires you to become more active. Don't be daunted by the difficulties. Be prepared to learn how to speak their language, and not just the linguistic variety. Appreciate their culture. This advice is especially pertinent for those who work and live with people of other cultures. Living side-by-side Unfortunately we don't do enough of this, mainly because of certain preconceptions on both sides. Westerners living in the East often move into the local expatriate community where they have almost no contact with the 'local' people. Sometimes this is necessary for security reasons, but more often than not it is a form of cultural exclusion seen to emanate from the West. We like our personal space and others who respect these values. When Easterners come to live in the West they often form their own communities, mainly due to the [perceived] lack of 'community' of their Western counterparts. In some instances these 'ghettos' have a negative connotation. Easterners like to feel comfortable with their neighbours and have their friends around them. In urban areas community spirit is vanishing, especially in the West, where we often don't know our immediate neighbours more than in passing. Usually Easterners will send a child around with a small dish of food to welcome strangers. This is not a gift expecting a favour in return. Rather, one brings back the empty bowl and forms a relationship from that initial contact. In the East people are inclined to come around at all hours, often without an appointment. To the time conscious Westerner this requires you to nominate specific times when you are not available. (Family matters are always acceptable.) In the West, Easterners should expect visiting hours to be predetermined and it is uncommon and rather unacceptable to just 'drop by' for a visit. Remember: The quality of relationships developed at the social level will reap dividends for business and provide numerous contacts able to protect you from cultural faux pas.

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Working together This is the most likely point of cross-cultural interaction and one where we can often not avoid its consequences. Having a good working relationship is the key in any culture, but absolutely vital when East meets West. Due to Easterners being status conscious, there are certain instances where work ethics will come into conflict. If you are of superior status, then it is 'above' you to do manual labour. Your subordinates would not allow you to do it anyway, as this signifies disrespect for their status and yours. Eastern men often grow long fingernails to signify that they aren't manual workers. Westerners consider it a point of pride to get in there and 'get their hands dirty'. It is a sign that our professional abilities do not get in the way of us showing equality when a job needs to be done. We expect everyone to lend a hand, as this will lighten the load for the individual. This is also an Eastern concept, but applied within a hierarchical context. Often work groups join together in some collective activity, but even in these instances those with higher status will not join those with lower status in manual labour. The concept of gotong-royong, where the group gets together for a particular purpose can be applied, but like the 'barn-raising' tradition in the West, it is understood that this activity must serve the entire group or be reciprocated accordingly to each individual in the group. Working within hierarchical or egalitarian constraints reflects back to our concept of respect. In the West we give respect and accord status to those who are able to roll up 'their sleeves' and get the job done. In the East people are respected for their position and are expected to maintain that level of authority. When working together it will depend on whether the predominant culture is Eastern or Western. We may then have to modify our behaviours accordingly, either by getting in there and doing the job with everyone else or by hanging back and allowing others to do the job for us. In many instances your work ethics will be respected if you are able to explain why they are important to you. Remember: In all cultures it is vital to retain the respect of your peers. You must be comfortable and familiar with how things are done in the predominant culture and be prepared to work within its constraints. Being hospitable While many Westerners would consider hospitality as separate from work, in the East, social and business ties are almost inseparable. In the East you will find that invitations to weddings, birthdays and funerals are commonplace, whereas in the West we would reserve these occasions for close family and friends. Learning to read into invitations is important, as not being present may be regarded as a dishonour to the family or being present may embarrass those who did not intend for the invitation to be taken literally. After spending many years in another culture, it is relatively easy to distinguish a genuine invitation. For newcomers it is much more difficult and requires close ties to a cultural mentor who understands the local customs well enough to assist. Westerners like their personal and private space. This requires Easterners to be sensitive to that need and give them 'breathing room'. Over time this can be achieved as mutual trust and respect builds between colleagues. Easterners on the other hand prefer not to be alone and like someone to be around. In fact the greatest fear for an Easterner is to be abandoned by their group. For Westerners it is more the fear of having nothing. When Westerners invite someone to a function or celebration, the offer is current and we intend the person to take it up or decline it. Don't be surprised if Easterners seek clarification as to the strength of the invitation.
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Once you have been invited to a function it is considered 'bad face' in most cultures to cancel an invitation unless there is a family or work crisis. Sending a representative in your stead is one way of overcoming this. However, they will need to be someone of similar status who is known to the hosts. Easterners place much greater emphasis on being hospitable than Westerners and there is an expectation of reciprocation, not so much as a payback, but more to reveal details about your group values. Social affairs reveal much about our colleagues and are helpful in understanding the culture, for this is the time when we are most candid. Remember: Most business in the East is done outside of the workplace in restaurants, homes and clubs. Westerners tend to avoid 'talking shop' outside of work, apart from in more traditional meeting places such as country clubs. Entertaining customs Easterners are proud of their cultural differences, especially when it comes to entertaining, as the idea is to try and 'outdo' each other. Being interested in another's culture will get you a long way. Easterners don't usually ask why certain customs are followed. Rather they are interested in its history and exact procedural steps. Westerners are more concerned with why a custom is followed and its significance. Often Easterners will simply say, "Because that's the way it has always been done". Traditions are constantly changing, but we stick to certain customs because we feel comfortable with how they define us. For example, Singaporeans seldom entertain at home, preferring to eat out. This is a predominantly Chinese tradition. Chinese tend to be less likely to invite you to family homes than Malay. Chinese are however renowned for their lavish hospitality to guests, especially when it comes to food. Malays like to entertain at home, as their homes are the centre of their existence and using the home brings good luck. Customs of course can be notoriously fickle. I was surprised at the difference in dining etiquette between neighbouring Dayak tribes. Sebaru Dayak provide hospitality via the family with which you are staying. You stay in their bilek (section) of the longhouse and eat exclusively with them. On first visiting Desa Dayak, traditional enemies of the Sebaru, I expected similar treatment. After finishing the evening meal with my 'host family', I was invited to eat at the next bilek. I declined, thinking it to be gesture of politeness. They indicated that this was their custom and that I was expected to eat in each bilek that wished to honour me. After some 20 different fares I learnt an interesting lesson on a very full stomach. Three Korean friends commented at how offended they were that after some three months in Australia they had not yet been invited to their friend's home for a meal. Being invited out was fine, but what this group regarded as real hospitality was to be invited home for a meal. Remember: Easterners place great emphasis on mutual entertaining to cement trust, so you should expect a full itinerary when visiting the East. When Easterners come to the West, expect to be entertained less, as Westerners often assume that you prefer doing your own thing'. Mutual trust The previous cultural activities all point toward the development of trust. Getting to know one another on a variety of different fronts helps us to build levels of trust. Easterners pay particular attention to how we deal with them and their families, friends and colleagues. Westerners focus more exclusively on how we work and perform.
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Work relationships are sufficient grounds for doing business and personal relationships are okay for personal interests. The two don't have to mix, as Westerners don't need to know the whole person, just what is necessary for the task at hand. Easterners are not satisfied with a personal profile. They want to know how you fit into the big picture. Trust is very important to Easterners, though it is not always seen in the same light by Westerners. In the East trust is more about shame and honour. In the West it tends to veer towards concepts of right and wrong. Westerners usually take people at their literal word. To Easterners the right intention is more important. Easterners see time and circumstances as being flexible, whereas Westerners see it as being more constant. Misunderstandings arise in this context, as Westerners see tomorrow as being in 24 hours time or less. Easterners construe time to be the next day or some time in the future. I can recall discussing my previous visit to a small town as being a few months ago, whereas my Indonesian friend kept referring to it as yesterday. Westerners see it as wrong to not keep your word or to a timetable, as this inconveniences another person. Easterners see it as wrong to not be flexible enough to allow for hold-ups rather than shame someone by being a stickler for time. Thus Easterners will often say 'yes' to save face now even though they may not be able to 'keep their promise'. Westerners are less extravagant with their word in order to save face later. Of course lying is not accepted in the East or West. It is more the view of true and false. Westerners tend to be more precise. Easterners are more flexible. As we work together closely the practicality and efficiency of being 'on time' has been largely accepted. Remember: Where important processes and systems require precise timetables, Easterners need to understand the consequences of not following procedures. Where people are involved, especially those of senior status, Westerners will need to be more flexible. Working things out When differences inevitably arise, resolving them can be quite a balancing act, especially when we know that a wrong decision can have serious repercussions for professional and personal relationships. Because Easterners tend to avoid conflicts at all costs or attempt to ignore them and Westerners prefer to resolve them before they become serious problems, decisions are often made on a knife-edge of conflicting interests. Understanding the tendencies our cultures have predisposed upon us is the first step in working things out. Easterners are very easily offended, even though they don't always show it. The most important thing is to ensure that a situation does not get to the stage where we have caused major offence. But when we work and live together offences inevitably occur. When Westerners perceive there's a problem, their natural inclination is to attempt to resolve it as soon as possible, usually by a direct and personal approach. However even in the West people will not always tell us to our faces if we have offended them. Our next move is usually to stop worrying, since it obviously wasn't that big a deal if the person involved said there was no problem. That type of approach may be okay in the West, but applied in the East is a sure-fire way of making enemies. Once you have made an enemy in the East, you may have one for life. One way of guarding against this occurring is to form a close group of confidants who support you and will advise you if you have overstepped the line. This is also advisable for an Easterner in the West. Easterners like to form close bonds with a wider range people, so as to ensure they have their finger on the relationship pulse. Westerners favour a tighter circle of contacts, preferring to rely on those with whom they have a close personal or professional rapport.
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In many cases the best way to find out about personal disputes is to keep your ear close to the ground. If a dispute arises, determine the level of support for your way of dealing with it. This requires consultation, and if the majority view is that it needs to be resolved, then it needs to be done so in the most culturally appropriate manner. Remember: Failing to work things out in a culturally appropriate wayvia a go-between in the East or face-to-face in the Westmay spell disaster for your relationship. Winning and losing The way we look at this topic determines our perspective of whether we have 'won' or 'lost' in a particular situation. Our view of winning and losing is primarily cultural. Rivalry is a key factor in Eastern relationships, where individuals, families, people groups and nations are constantly assessing and reassessing their options. Who you know is far more important than what you know, thus the emphasis is to cultivate and to be indebted to those who can change situations for us. To the more egalitarian Western mind the process of advancement is competitive and open, with the emphasis being on our personal ability to succeed. Most Westerners understand that to some degree "who you know politics" still determine how far we get ahead in life. But the most admirable quality of a Western 'winner' is to start with nothing and 'make it to the top'. How you made it is important, so those who have made it 'fairly' by their own efforts are most admired. Competition is usually tough, open and played by the rules. Easterners are rampant manipulators as well as humble submitters. It will depend very much on the situation. There is no point trying to win if it destroys you in the process. Then again, one has to be persistent to win. An Eastern winner is someone at the top who is able to stay there despite attempts to undermine and topple them. While Westerners rely on personal ability, education and experience to win, the Easterner tends to regard these aspects as only part of the continuum. Though rarely spoken about outside of group circles, supernatural powers are commonly incurred to seek advancement or 'good luck'. Muslims may use excerpts from the Koran (baca-baca) to ward off curses or to curse someone. Chinese appease their ancestors to bring prosperity and invoke their powers to gain wisdom. Dayak often place charms over their doorways to protect their houses from theft. Few Easterners totally discount the role of supernatural powers in their lives. Westerners will continue to strive while it is 'humanly possible', whereas Easterners are in some ways more fatalistic, appearing to often be resigned to losing, even while seeking other avenues. Remember: These two different ways of looking at winning and losing often means that Easterners and Westerners view the same outcome from opposite sides. Talking the talk Up till now we have looked at communication as consisting of various cultural issues influencing relationships. The best way to become fluent in another culture is by learning its language. When we actually want to transfer something from one culture to another it becomes even more difficult if we are unable to communicate in the local lingo. Indeed it can be argued that relying only on English in China, for example, will severely limit your ability to get a feel for the place. Likewise, Chinese who come to Australia and can't speak English will suffer major disadvantages. If you are attempting to communicate management or technical know-how, knowledge of the local language is indispensable.

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Knowledge of local tongues is the true precursor to understanding the culture of the people and being able to deal with them on an equal footing. Interestingly, linguistic arrogance plays a strong part in the reason why many Westerners fail to learn a second language. We simply assume that if anyone requires knowledge all they need to do is learn English and the 'Western way' of doing things. Easterners respect Western education and the scientific method, wanting to not only learn our secrets, but better them. We believe that by combining our cultural values with Western learning, we can not only be equal, but superior. Few Eastern companies would send someone to the West who doesn't speak English and if they don't know it when they arrive, they are expected to learn it as soon as possible. The results of a Price Waterhouse survey of Jakarta expatriates (1995:14-15) makes interesting reading. Westerners do pick up the local language to a basic degree, however those who can speak it at a vocational level is a low 24%. While 80 percent of those surveyed indicated that they felt knowledge of Indonesian was important, only 70 percent had actually undertaken a course. Learning a second language is a major commitment that should begin long before you decide to work in another country. Being conversant in the language and culture is the key to the next section of this book. Remember: The effort that we have taken to learn a foreign language and culture will speak volumes to those who are watching and waiting for us to display our 'negative' cultural traits. It will help you to be a cultural winner. 3. IN TRANSFERRING CULTURE One of the most advanced forms of cross-cultural interaction is at the transfer level, where you will need to assess needs, develop strategies and deliver measurable outcomes based on the environment at hand. If you think transferring knowledge, skills and expertise does not include culture, then you may not agree with some of the conclusions drawn at the end of this book. However, my contention is that understanding the culture and environment of the learner is the key to transferring knowledge and skills to them. That will be the premise of this section. Learning environment First of all, knowing how we learn is vitally important. If we are to trade views, ideas and experiences, or transfer knowledge, technology and skills we need to understand how we learn. The most likely point of interaction between East and West is when we are learning from each other. Most collective cultures place a strong emphasis on informal learning because this is where we learn as children to behave as adults. In Eastern societies where oral traditions are still strong, people know many of the same stories, traditions and history pertaining to their nation and particular ethnic group. This knowledge gives them a sense of personal identity, which is directly linked to their kinship with the group. Formal learning takes on a similar pattern. As learners respect their elders in the group, so they respect their teachers. Whatever they are told to learn they believe to be true and successful duplication of this knowledge in practice is regarded as being a sign of success. If learners attempt to move too far outside of these boundaries they risk being branded as troublemakers. Western culture's individualistic streak comes through strongly in learning and children are encouraged to think and act independently within broad cultural guidelines. Textual traditions are strong in the West and most information is provided in a variety of media, which gives learners a choice of what they want to learn.

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Personal selection means that informal learning can be more controlled by the individual, and this style carries over into formal education where information is presented in such a way as to prompt learners to determine their own approach to thinking. A learner is regarded as being successful when able to practically apply knowledge in a variety of contexts. What this means is that Eastern and Western learning expectations are quite different, even though our capacity to learn is similar. A further influence on learning comes from the resources used to learn. Textbooks and workbooks have been commonly used in Western learning to personalise the learning experience for each learner and to give them the freedom to pick and choose their material. In the East, resources like textbooks are often shared and copying information into notebooks from predetermined material is a common way of studying. In the East teachers lead you towards knowledge. In the West teachers guide you towards it. These so-called environmental considerations are recognised as key learning factors in similar cultures and even more so in dissimilar ones. Much of the technical transfer today is still from West to East, thus it is vital for Westerners to understand the learning environments of Easterners if they are to transfer knowledge effectively. Likewise it becomes important for Easterners to understand where the Westerner is coming from in relation to their presentation of information. Here is where a fundamental difference in skills transfer often occurs, and, it is primarily cultural. Many Westerners assume that because their knowledge (and language) is accepted as being superior in a particular field, that the Western way of doing things (culture) will also be accepted. Easterners may accept Western knowledge as being more advanced, and English as its medium, but still believe their way of doing things to be (culturally) superior. For many Easterners knowledge is subservient to cultural values. There is an increasing recognition in the West that many of the cultural values held in high esteem by Easterners are beneficial and applicable in the West. The strong interest in the New Age (of which Eastern religions play an integral part) and Eastern philosophies, such as martial arts, are examples. Easterners admire us for our knowledge if not our culture, but the stigma of colonisation has certainly not yet worn off. Sometimes this can display itself in an inferiority complex. Remember: Cultural and linguistic arrogance in all its forms can play havoc on skills and knowledge transfer, and will only be overcome by mutual trust. Motivating others The next step is to find out the perceived benefit of the transfer to the learner and their organisation. When motivating others to learn the 'reward approach' is used to assess the individual's motivation. In the East, motivating people to learn is primarily rooted in the status and seniority obtained through learning itself. Westerners are usually motivated by the job satisfaction gained in being able to do a job better, and the increased remuneration and associated responsibility. Based on the above stated perceptions, Easterners view the formality of the training, the assessment, grading or certification (status) as being the most important factor. This factor is important in the West also, but its practicality and applicability to the individual learner 'being able to do it' (performance) that is the key. As I am sure you are working out, motivating someone primarily relies on his or her cultural values and social system, rather than actual technical expertise. Of course, the ultimate objective is the samethat the learner is able to produce a product or supply a service that combines technical expertise with their principle cultural values. This requires you, the one who is transferring skills, knowledge or expertise, to understand the people you will be training.
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Thus, the best way to motivate people in the East is through the organisational hierarchy. If someone of senior status trains you, then you will listen to what they have to say. In the West it is more likely that those who are the best performers or are the most highly skilled will provide the training. One of the problems often encountered in the East is that those of senior status do not like to learn new skills, as they have relied on their knowledge, connections and educational qualifications to get to where they are, rather than their actual hands-on performance. For the Westerner attempting to transfer skills into this organisational environment lie many pitfalls, but the most common one is that of inadequate explanation and consultation with those in authority. Ensuring that those with the status see the benefits of the transfer to them personally will facilitate these skills being passed on to those who actually perform them. Remember: Giving the opportunity for those in authority to further develop 'ownership' of the transfer will make it much more culturally acceptable. Managing people When attempting to seek mutual agreement on a particular course of action it is best to begin at the management level. Beginning with management means starting with the people who make the decisions and who determine the values of an organisation. In most cases these people will be locals who have a direct stake in the organisation. They will also be the best people to sound out about how and to whom the skills transfer applies. Even if you are called upon to carry out this initial needs analysis you will have to work closely with management to bring about change in an organisation. In the East, management is carried out within a values system, which is determined by cultural expectations (Hofstede, 1983:7). In the West managing people is a highly technical field, where 'management' has become almost synonymous with rational thinking, systems and processes. While we recognise the human element within it and the need for strong interpersonal relationships to make it work, Western society is much more used to managing processes and systems into which people must fit. If they don't fit they may become redundant. An important factor to consider when transferring Western management concepts to the East is the dual or multiple natures of Eastern societies, whereby the Western economic system being applied to the workforce due to their occupation(s), may be at odds with the underlying social system and community culture in which they live (Yamada, 1980:57-62). Getting skills transfer right means working closely with the change agents in an organisationthose who are socially accepted and respected as being appropriate to bring about change. Convincing them that change is necessary needs to be jointly considered within the context of current social values and be based on these expressions in practice. Being able to integrate these factors into a mutually agreed system will help in the transfer process and result in cohesive and effective understanding. Once these cultural issues are determined, a time frame can be developed in which the transfer can actually take place. Remember: In the East getting those with status to agree is all important to effective transfer, whereas in the West a more personal approach to individuals may be applicable.

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Mentoring roles Before actually designing or delivering a training program the relationship side really needs to be taken one step further and cemented into place. If you are able to motivate someone to learn you are already halfway there. It's no problem motivating Eastern students to learn, since any sort of formal knowledge is highly regarded, especially if they know that they will be more respected for it. Western learners may be more difficult to motivate since they are often somewhat sceptical of a teacher's motives. However, if they see the personal benefits of learning for them as individuals they will participate. One of the most beneficial ways to foster this sort of environment in an organisation is to promote and ascribe mentoring roles to those with more senior status or with higher skill levels or experience. Field and Ford (1995:105) claim that mentoring is one of the key ways in which those who have learned particular skills transfer them to others in less formal ways. This model of transferring knowledge has recently been 'rediscovered' in the West, though traditionally it has been an integral aspect of both Eastern and Western learning. Western apprenticeship schemes are a more formalised example of the mentor-student relationship, where an apprentice learns a trade through observing one more experienced. Increasingly though 'mentoring' is being used by companies to transfer management skills to a multinational or cultural workforce. Lend Lease is one large Australian firm which has taken mentoring on board as a primary means of transferring management skills. In this instance mentoring is really a method of teaching. The mentor leads by example and provides an opportunity for experiences, so that the mentee can learn from them. A mentor shouldn't provide answers and solutions, but help the learner think through to their own solutions. The mentoring approach can quite neatly combine Western processes and systems with Eastern social and cultural values, and is an effective transfer model. Remember: To establish an effective transfer model you will need to know the culture so that you can transfer skills or technology to local participants, then you will need to rely on them to transfer and apply these skills further down the organisation. Teaching skills While mentoring is more of an organisational matter, since it primarily deals with management issues, it also influences teaching even if it is in technical areas. The main reason for this is that all people work in organisations, thus they will work under some sort of management system. Teaching others is both cultural and personal, since it directly applies to those being trained and how they learn. One main teaching criterion is the learning environment, which can be further broken down into contexts of learning. Put more simply, the environment relates to the whole situation affecting the learner. Context relates to each situation effecting learning. Once you know cultureat national, community and organisational levelyou've basically covered environment. How we learn and what we consider worth learning is contextual. Cross-culturally this means that if you do not convince the learner of both the technical and cultural necessity for doing something, then it is most likely that they will learn the technique, but not put it into practice. This is especially pertinent when you are teaching skills that require thinking that is above and beyond process-based motor skills. The learner(s) must be convinced of the benefit. "Washing hands", is a good example. If you simply teach someone that they should wash their hands, then they will probably do it while you are around or practice it in the particular instance in which it was taught.

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But if they do not see the intrinsic benefit behind it, namely that germs cause disease, then they will not apply it across the board in every situation where washing of one's hands is necessary. This is a simple example, but one to which we all can relate. In more complex situations similar dynamics are at work. Painting the 'big picture' when teaching Easterners helps them to understand the holistic reason for this learning. Westerners take a narrower approach which focuses more on understanding what is being learned. Remember: Eastern learners may accept the benefit of what they are being taught and learn it, but they will need to understand its applicability to their culture before they will put it into practice. Western learners on the other hand accept certain practices because of their grounding in processes, but may have difficulty learning and remembering information not seen pertinent to a particular system. Training Methods Once the previous considerations in this section have been put into place, the actual training can begin. The way learners are trained, evaluated and reviewed depends on your understanding of the previous conditions and their effect on the learning outcome. Whether in the West or the East the learning outcome should be the successful transfer of the information, skills or technology to the trainees by them actually applying it practically to their [work] environment. This means that they will not just have to learn the process, but will also have to consider it worth putting into practice. Here is where training methods become so important. If you don't adequately explain the context of why something is being done, then the learner will not know why it should be done. When Easterners are being trained they will often not ask questions, feeling a lack of knowledge is a loss of face. In general, Eastern students will learn things (facts and figures) far more quickly than Western students, who will concentrate more on how it works (systems and processes). Here is an example: a) Eastern Training Method
1. Context 2. Task 4. Outcome 3. Rationale For Eastern students training needs to be like the links in a chain, where each link is closed off before continuing on to the next stage. This helps learners recognise systems and processes in their widest possible context, and enables them to understand how these systems and processes can be put into practice as principles rather than just being retained as learned knowledge.

b) Western Training Method


1. Rationale 2. Context 3. Task 4. Outcome

Systems and processes come easily to Western learners, but this makes them susceptible to always wanting to know why, rather than spending the time needed to appreciate learning for its intrinsic value. The aim is to help them put facts and figures to more holistic use, by understanding the underlying nuances and subtleties that come from learned knowledge.

Measuring outcomes The final proof of the pudding comes in the eating and this is definitely the case when measuring the effectiveness of a training outcome. While I have applied an educational method to skills transfer, due to this being my academic discipline, I firmly believe that if you are transferring technical or organisational skills cross-culturally, then these elements will play a pivotal role.
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Outcomes, like almost everything else we have studied, are benchmarked by cultural values and the perceived benefit this knowledge and skills transfer brings to the learner and their organisation. When East meets West, perceived benefits to learning outcomes may be quite different, and will need to be measured across the whole cultural spectrum. This means that from the Western perspective a measured outcome is based on the ability of the learner to put what they have learned into practice. Usually, this includes applying these skills in different contexts. The measured outcome is that they understand what they have learned by doing it. For Easterners learning is not just about the task at hand, but the experience and whether they feel that they have achieved status within the group by gaining this knowledge. A measured outcome for an Easterner is to know how to put what they have learned into practice within the context that they learned the skill. To get Easterners to understand that what they have learned may be applied as a principle in various similar situations, as well as being retained as knowledge, may take more time. Likewise, it can be difficult getting Westerners to appreciate that some contextual knowledge, even if it lies outside of the scope of a method or process, may in actual fact be very important to the final result. Being able to measure outcomes against these two differing cultural views will go a long way in follow-up activities. Because learning values are not the same, a good trainer will ensure that outcomes focus on the culture within and without an organisation, then the technical aspects of the transfer can be presented to the learner based on their needs. Remember: Recognising learning differences as being cultural rather than intellectual will help you to concentrate on the skill areas that Eastern and Western trainers and learners need to modify for the transfer process to be beneficial in its new environment. 4. IN APPLYING CULTURE In any writings on culture one is at risk of either generalising to the detriment of the many contradictions and complexities intrinsic to cultural themes or narrowly pointing out individual attributes and behaviours as characterising certain cultural values. Culture is about finding your place in the world and being comfortable with it. My intention in writing this book is to offer suggestions, not impose a diagnosis. If you've found some helpful ideas, it is my sincere hope that you will be able to put them into practice and help bridge the cultural divide near you. Cultural analysis So, now that we've been through all this information, let's look back at the Introduction and see what Mr John Scott and Pak Suhardi can do to bridge the cultural divide separating them. First you need to look at the positive and negative aspects of the situation:

POSITIVE 1. They both know each other through work and also socially 2. They are prepared to talk about and recognise there is a problem 3. Both men realise that the relationship has been damaged 4. They are relatively equal in status and both know it 5. Their personal friendship may save their business relationship

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NEGATIVE
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Pak Suhardi has lost face with his workers, peers and with the visitors Neither side can see the problem from the other's perspective Pak Suhardi feels he has lost out in the status stakes to John John feels disappointed that that Pak Suhardi seems so petty Their lack of cultural understanding may yet 'sink' the business venture

SYNOPSIS: Only time will tell whether this business venture survives, but if it does it will have been primarily because of the personal relationship between Pak Suhardi and Mr John Scott. (Note: This venture did survive, primarily because of their personal relationship and due to both parties being willing to admit mistakes and compromise.)
Eastern and Western themes It is fitting that as this study comes to a close, we summarise some of the key themes from our investigation of Eastern and Western culture. There is no particular order of priority to these themes, rather it is usually at these points of reference that Eastern and Western assumptions about 'reality' come to the fore and are exhibited as reactions. In each instance, 'what is the case' gives rise to 'what should be' our 'normal' response. These emerging assumptions in turn determine our surface customs. What we see actually comes from within the individual. Let's look at some of these themes again.

Key Themes in Western Culture


- reality-centred worldview - primacy of the individual - liberty to develop independently - equality of the sexes and roles - task orientated leadership - achievement based on self-effort - guilt results from breaking the law - current and future orientated - emphasis on youth and ability - scepticism of the supernatural - public and private worlds separated - written relationships important - personal preference and choice - right of each individual paramount - competition on an individual basis - education is to apply skills practically - hospitality to close family and friends - sympathy for individuals in need

Key Themes in Eastern Culture


- value-centred worldview - primacy of the social group - responsibility in relationships - differentiation of the sexes and roles - status orientated leadership - achievement based on group effort - shame results from failing others - past and present orientated - emphasis on age and seniority - acceptance of the supernatural - public and private worlds integrated - verbal relationships important - conventional appearance primary - duty and responsibility towards group - advancement based on who you know - education is to know more about life - hospitality on demand for in-group - less generosity outside of group

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Getting relationships right When all is said and done, even after an in-depth study of particular people groups, cultures and societies, all the 'head' knowledge in the world will not make you a good crosscultural manager or communicator. We have all experienced the 'expert' who knows a lot but understands very little. This can especially be the case in such a subjective area as culture. Cross-cultural understanding must first come from the heart and be reinforced by good human resources. I have known both Easterners and Westerners who have lived decades in foreign countries, become fluent in the national language and know the system', but never become a part of it. They aren't really accepted into the community because they have not shown the right attitude when dealing with others. Being willing to learn from others and taking their advice is vital, as is appreciating the differences that cross-cultural issues throw up on an almost daily basis. For the Westerner working with the Easterner, the most important skill you will learn is that of developing good interpersonal relationships. If you are working in the East then learning this skill is imperative and you will not get very far without it. Get a trusted cultural mentor, someone who is able to guide you through the often treacherous waters of relationship building in all its various contexts and environments. Form a wide range of friendships and be prepared to extend yourself socially far beyond what you would in the West. Remember that these acquaintances may save you from serious mistakes, advise you as to the best course of action in a given situation and will help protect you from its repercussions. Easterners in the West need to learn to compete strongly for their positions and have a good understanding of the conditions in which they are operating, for if they do 'stuff up' and contravene certain guidelines, they can expect little sympathy from their Western counterparts. The idea of a level playing field is very strong, as is the equality of individuals, so special treatment is not usually offered. Ultimately, successful cross-cultural management is about trust and relying on those who understand the local culture to advise you on the best course of action. Taking this advice, putting it into practice and learning to smile at the inevitable hiccups along the way will help you develop the right kind of relationships. People skills Once you have a trusted cultural mentor who understands what you want to achieve, you will need to decide how to approach the most important phase of the cross-cultural exchangethe transfer process. This is where you are applying a skill, technology, product and/or system that have worked well in your cultural environment to a new cultural environment. So often this is where the process breaks down. The reason for this is that while Easterners may accept that Western know-how is what they need to advance, the way Westerners go about transferring their knowledge turns out to be culturally or socially unacceptable, unsuitable or difficult to apply. Westerners often perceive Easterners to be lazy, ignorant and uncooperative, whilst Easterners sometimes feel Westerners are arrogant, uncultured and boorish. When these feelings begin to surface it is difficult to get the cooperation needed to pass on information and technology and develop the skills and systems needed to manage these processes. Yet many people working in cross-cultural environments are facing these problems daily and wondering why productivity is down, an undercurrent of hostility is felt, expenses are not kept in checkthe list goes on.

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Many of these problems stem from not getting the relationship right in the first place. Most other issues arise from not transferring experience and skills in a culturally appropriate manner. A competent cross-cultural manager must first and foremost be a good communicator, have strong people skills and have flexible systems and procedures. There are five key factors that are integral to applying cultural expertise: 1. Cultural Mentors - able to pass on cultural and business intelligence 2. High-level Support - to ensure cooperation from within and without 3. Mutual Benefits - used to bring shared ownership to skill development 4. Targeted Training - modified for specific learning needs and cultures 5. Appropriate Outcomes - designed to appeal to specific cultural values If the above factors are put into practice then the management and transfer process has the potential of going much more smoothly and the desired project outcomes become more achievable. Cultural analysis Apart from your firm's product, service or technical expertise, the most important business skill you will need is cross-cultural expertise. It is this dynamic that bridges the gap between you and your potential market. While this book has a management focus, it is designed for all who are interested cross-cultural expertise and desire to learn its valuable secrets. Information is one of the most sought after commodities today and technology is its medium. The ability to combine and apply the two anywhere it is needed in the world requires individuals with an ability to culturally analyse the best methods to transfer information. This is a step-by-step process which develops a framework for understanding cultural reactions and strategies for applying new skills. Cultural analysis is not really about 'cultural awareness'. It is about using the cultural environment to your advantage and developing a winning formula for your business. Cultural analysis is a key component in realising your ability to transfer useful information. These skills are vital for developing partnerships, building networks and transferring your product, service or technology to a specific market in a cost effective and efficient manner. This is especially true when you are dealing with people from different cultures. Culture affects people, and thus determines systems and strategies. Skilled managers are those able to harness their energies and the skills of others to transfer information. This means developing the strategies and systems that are most suitable to a particular culture and to your most important assetpeople. An effective manager is first a learner then a teacher able to understand the cultural context and how to present content using the most suitable process. The future of business is global and where people are involved, cultural issues will most surely follow. Cultural analysis is about recognising these needs and designing and developing an appropriate response to particular needs. Whether you are sure or unsure of the benefits of these cultural principles at least try them. I am certain you will be surprised at their effectiveness. Practise these principles and you will find they work!

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EPILOGUE
In researching this book I have tried to avoid some of the cultural complexities associated with specific disciplines. Rather I have written about culture as my colleagues and I have experienced it. I was blessed with the opportunity of growing up in not only a multicultural Eastern society, but also lived amongst a full representation of Western groups. Many of the topics in this book were part and parcel of daily conversation as East met West on a daily basis. As children we were often asked by our parents to be cultural go-betweens, answering questions that seemed (to us) quite simple and obvious, yet were of considerable consternation to the adults. Comparing cultural views and values was and is an integral way of life for me. I consider it most enjoyable to look at different ways of solving a similar problem. For Easterners and Westerners to begin understanding each other better and working together more efficiently and effectively requires a strong dose of cross-cultural expertise. As the world becomes more closely linked by technology and communications, the last frontier is human thinking and culture. People measure change against their cultural values and when in doubt fall back on them. Work in the new millennium will require more multicultural exchanges and transfers of information and technology. Those who understand how to deal in this complex, rewarding and exciting area have a ticket to the box seat. Cross-cultural expertise is only achieved when we trust each other enough to be reflective and sit down together to discuss our cultural differences because of a mutual interest in and respect for each other. If I have been able to pique your interest, or even better, convinced you of the benefits of the methods shared, then I will have achieved the primary objective of this book. Taking the time to find out about yourself and others is challenging, especially when you are dealing with someone from another culture. But the benefits of this exchange far outweigh the risk. Attempting to bridge a cultural divide can be a most exhilarating or stultifying experience. Ultimately, it all depends how you look at it.

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Key Cultural Skills


Being willing to mutually build trust requires great patience Consider social trust to be equal with professionalism in business A preparedness to bargain develops friendships and business Agreements are declarations of trust not contracts cast in stone Maintaining agreements is about flexibility and perseverance Be humble and win in business, offend others at your own peril Social relationships provide contacts and protection from faux pas Work with the predominant culture and within its constraints Most 'business' is done within the social and cultural environment Building mutual trust requires social as well as business acumen Processes may be less flexible, but people require more flexibility Failure to 'culturally' work things out with others may spell disaster Different views of winning and losing mean differing outcomes A personal effort to learn language and culture speaks volumes Cultural and linguistic arrogance can play havoc with skills transfer Change agents need to work with both managers and operators Give those with cultural status the opportunity develop 'ownership' Cross cultural expertise assists skills transfer and application Learners need to understand the cultural applicability of new skills Recognise differences as being cultural rather than intellectual

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References Chu, Chin-Ning (1992) Thick Face Black Heart. Allen & Unwinn. Evans, Hans-Dieter Ed. (1980) Sociology of South-East Asia, Readings on social change and development. Oxford University Press. Field, L. and Ford B. (1995) Managing Organisational Learning, From rhetoric to reality. Longman Australia. Fish, A and Wood, J (1997) Cross-cultural Management Competence in Australian Business Enterprises. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources 35 (1). Hofstede, Geert (1983) Cultural pitfalls for Dutch expatriates in Indonesia. 2nd Edition, TG International Management Consultants, Deventer Jakarta. Lane, Dennis, (1995) One World Two Minds, Eastern and Western Outlooks in a Changing World. OMF International. Lubis, M. (1988) Transformasi Budaya. Jakarta: Inti Idayu Press. Macridis, R. (1980) Contemporary Political Ideologies, Winthrop, Cambridge, Mass. Mead, Richard (1990) Cross-cultural Management Communication. John Wiley and Sons. McCarthy, T. (1998) In Defense of Asian Values. Time Magazine, March 16 TIME Magazine Australia. McDowell, J. and Hostetler, B. (1994) Right From Wrong. Word Publishing. Peters, R. S. (1981) Essays on Educators. George, Allen & Unwin, London. Rattray, P. S. (1998) Understanding Indonesians, Indonesian Business and Culture Handbook. Brisbane: ETC. Townshend, D. (1995) Harnessing Harmony. The Qantas Club, March '96.
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