Being a person who is born and raised in Egypt, then moved to work in the Netherlands a couple of years ago, this book is an eyeopener for me regardinBeing a person who is born and raised in Egypt, then moved to work in the Netherlands a couple of years ago, this book is an eyeopener for me regarding cultural differences I used to notice but wasn't able to articulate very well. Erin Meyer's books focuses on 8 aspects where cultures differ; how are people from different cultures communicate, evaluate, persuade, lead, decide, trust, disagree and schedule. The author maps culture differences onto those 8 scales, and funny enough, the Middle East and the Netherlands fall almost always on the two opposite ends of each scale.
When it comes to communication, the scale goes between low context vs hight context cultures. Anglophones and Dutch/Germans are on one end, while Japanese are on the other end. Arabs and Indians slightly lower context than Japanese, and French among other Latin cultures are in the middle. High context read between the lines, looks for layers and hidden meanings. They use irony and don't need to explicitly say "just kidding" after joking. Brits are higher context compared to Americans, thus the latter seldom get the former's humour. Low context cultures tend to have broader vocabulary in their languages. And, I understand, high context ones use metaphors more. Low context culture tend to have stuff written while high context tend to express things verbally. Thinking of Egyptian Arabic, we have just one word for leg and foot; however we have different word for each in traditional Arabic, and maybe we move to a slightly lower context when we write, as we write in traditional Arabic most of the time.
When evaluation each other, Dutch are direct and low context, Americans/Brits are indirect and while still having low context. Israelis and Russians direct and high context. Arabs indirect and high context. The French stress on negative feedback and give positive feedback subtly, while Americans are just the opposite.
I wouldn't go on and summarise all 8 aspects, of course. I recommend you read the book, but let me mention some things I notices.
I used to think Germans and Dutch should be very similar in everything, especially after seeing them showing close to each other on many scales, then later on, I discovered that when it comes to leadership, the Dutch are more egalitarian and the Germans and hierarchal.
When I stumbled upon the term, egalitarian, I didn't know exactly its meaning, but since I know what the national motto of France (liberté, égalité, fraternité) means, I could easily deduct its meaning in English, then came the irony that the French are more hierarchal than egalitarian.
Imagine being in a queue, and the person in front of you is asking a teller a question that sparks a 30 minutes discussion, while you just have a 2 seconds question, should I go from this gate or that one. In Egypt, it is understandable that you can interrupt their discussion to ask your question, and when I came to Europe, one of the shocking moments to me was that in linear-time cultures, that's a big no no!
Similar to my initial perception of German and Dutch cultures, I also thought Israelis would be very similar to Arabs, in the end of the day, they all are Middle-Easterns, till I read that people Israel, Germany, France and the Netherlands are confrontational; while Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, Ghana and Peru avoid confrontation. Arabs and Israelis are kinda similar on 50% of the scales here, and dissimilar on the other 50%.
Societies may base their trust on relations, or be task-oriented. Societies with relationship-oriented business attitude are most likely ones with weak legal systems, where relationships provide better safety nets than contracts.
In the end, I am not a big fan of the post modernist approach of seeing all cultures are equal, and considering any criticism to be a form of racism. I see empirical evidences that some cultures are more economically successful that the others, and I think it is good for individuals and societies to learn about those differences and learn to adapt to what is best....more
Alec Ross is a politician and this gives him access to business leaders in different parts of the world, so unlike many books about the topic that areAlec Ross is a politician and this gives him access to business leaders in different parts of the world, so unlike many books about the topic that are so US-focused, he sheds more light about the industries of the future from a geographic landscape. There are five main industries covered here; robotics, genetics, AI (you may call it big data), cyber security and crypto currency. I knew very little about the first two, much more about the second two; and was kinda dismissal of the last one. Reading this made me realise robotics isn't just sci-fi far fetched thing, and some ideas about how cyber currency might make currencies from weak economies become obsolete are mind boggling. Having that said, I feel I still need to read about those topics from business people and technologists, who might cover other angles not covered very well here. ...more