absolutely intercultural 81 +++ Software of the Mind 3: updates +++ studying abroad +++ International Business Simulations+++

"I love being updated" by Daan Berg / DBreg2007

absolutely updated:
Together with Karsten Kneese and Fernando Reyero Noya, we continue to explore Geert Hofstede’s concept of Culture as the Software of the Mind. We discuss the aspect of cultural updates and how people need to adapt to new rules and behaviours due to changes in our society. Often they are brought about by changes in the law where as a result everybody around us starts behaving differently – for example after the smoking ban in public places. In fact, this update goes even further and there is a new word in the English language: “smirting”, which is a combination of “smoking” and “flirting”. This new behaviour pattern came with the non-smoking laws and allows a new kind of communication which lasts as long as a cigarette just outside the pubs. You wait until someone you would like to get to know in the pub gets up to have a cigarette and then join the person outside and use this 5-minute break together to get to know each other. Wikipedia has picked up this new trend and even describes the phenomenon of “passive smirting” as “the pastime for those who stand outside with friends or colleagues but do not actually smoke themselves.”

absolutely changed:
While most of the time we just react to updates and readjust our lives accordingly, some people actively open themselves to challenges and updates – for example by studying in another country in order to broaden their horizons. Aurora Mustonen from Finland is such a courageous person. She tells us how after her A-levels in Finland she decided that she wanted to move to England to do her bachelor’s degree.
It is amazing how such stays abroad do not only train our adaptability to other cultures but also seem to change our attitudes when we go back to our own cultures afterwards. This may be because we integrate successful pieces of behaviour which we learned and tested abroad into our home culture.

absolutely motivating:
In our last category, we go on to another Finnish exchange student, Anna Moisio, a student at our University of Applied Sciences, Koblenz, who took part in a course called “International Business Simulations”. She soon found out that while this was called a “simulation” her managerial tasks as the CEO of the simulated company with branches in Lithuania, England, and Hungary had to be pretty “real”.
Anna explains to us how she had the opportunity to prove herself as the boss of an international company and was able to put into practice what she had learned about motivation and leadership in lectures and books, all within her experience at the foreign university setting. This experience was particularly important for her, as after completing her master thesis she plans to set up her own company. We wish her good luck for that!

The next show will be coming to you on 1 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Jan Warnecke

absolutely intercultural 80 +++ 3 year anniversary +++ Cultural FAQ


As well as 80 being a nice round number, this show also marks the third anniversary of the podcast so we are telling the story of culture through some of the many pieces we have done over the last three years.

So this is a sort of audio Frequently Asked Questions to the topic of intercultural communication and competence.

Q1 What is culture? Are the Screaming Men of Finland culture? Is what they do singing?

Listen as Laurent explores the idea of culture as the software of the mind with two guests.

Q2 Why do we need to know about intercultural differences?I once had a colleague who was very proud of the fact that he had gone to work in Morrocco without doing any research beforehand; the idea being that the voyage of discovery was all the more pleasurable that way. However when I spoke with Mark Karstad about his time as a technical assistant at the Dubai Women’s College I could appreciate the value of a little forewarning about the expectations of behaviour between males and females there.

Q3 What are Critical incidents?These are the times when you break the unwritten rules of culture. These tend to be the incidents that make the most impression on you. Here are a couple; firstly we hear from Fernando, a Spaniard, talking about a strange party he was invited to during his stay in Germany.

And  a second example from Turkmenistan where American peace corps workers come to work and often wonder about some of the situations they witness.

You can see that things can be very different and that this can take some gettimg used to. So this brings us to

Q4 What is Culture shock? This is when so many rules are different that you get a psychological reaction.

Listen how Mark Anderson from South Africa describes his reaction on accepting a job in Korea.

Q5 Can you learn cultural competence? We have discussed several different ways in which you can train intercultural competence. One of the most innovative was surely the Swedish Living Library initiative.

Q 6 Are cultural differences apparent in different communication media such as email and virtual worlds? Does IT flatten the world and make everyone the same or does it also reveal cultural differences? I discussed this in relation to the Virtual World Second Life with Helen Keegan and Sus Nyrop.

Q7 Is there a connection between culture and language? Language is intimately connected to culture. For example Europeans going to China may experience much more of a culture shock because their languages have so little in common. I discussed the issue with Ken Carroll in Shanghai.

Greenlandic is not only a little spoken language but also difficult to learn for other reasons. Hear why from Jens Nyeland, a Dane who worked in Greenland for 3 years.

Q8 Are there any topics Which tend to arise more often? Looking back it seems that we talk a lot about education. Here is one example of the difference in attitude to learning as described by Bob Compton of 2 Million Minutes

Another topic which crops up rather a lot is the link between culture and music. We started with the screaming men of Finland and this is an extract of Weightless Escape by Moussa Diallo, a prime mover behind the Global Music Festival in Grenaa Denmark whose aim is to build bridges between the native and immigrant populations in Denmark.

So that’s a taste of what we’ve been doing over the last 3 years. Thank you to everyone who has taken part. We couldn’t have done it without you. If you have any comments then you can add them to our blog .

The next show will be coming to you from Germany on April 17th.

So long…stay tuned!

The host of this show is Anne Fox:
Editor: Jan Warnecke