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.”
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.
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.
Working in Japan – Haiti and the Dominican Republic – Hofstede in action
Yogesh Bang, an Indian software engineer, has worked on assignment in Japan several times. His advice to anybody thinking of working in Japan is to be prepared to lose out on sleep. He also noticed the effect of concensus decision-making, hierarchy and the status of women employees during his time there.
Absolutely Educational I
We have another report from Chris Saenger of the Intercultural Management Institute of Washington on their annual conference last March called ‘Does Culture Still Matter?’ This time he talks about their second keynote speaker Laurence Harrison who is not afraid to make controversial propositions as to why for example Haiti and the Dominican Republic perform so differently economically even though they share the same island.
Absolutely Educational II
Speaking from Iceland, David Stroud, a senior British civil servant, talks about why the Hofstede model is so useful in international negotiations.
The next show will be coming from Germany on May 18.
Go abroad! And why not to Germany? You will hear reports, stories and even some advice of people who went abroad to do an internship or to study at a foreign university.
Marie from Sweden for example has done both. First she did an internship in Germany and then, because she liked it so much, she came back about a year later to study here at the RheinAhrCampus for a whole semester.
Karsten tells us a little about what he experienced during his time in Sweden, where he did both, work and study at the University of Umea at the same time.
Alessandro La Blunda gives us some insights into his six months internship in Shanghai, which he just recently finished.
And Professor Mert Cubukcu from the University of Izmir, Turkey, tells us why he recommendes studying in Germany to all of his students.
Right after that we return to one of our regular columns: “Culture as the software of the mind”. Inspired by one of your comments we take a look at the question: “Where do we get our software from, how does it get installed in our minds- and how can we eventually de-install it if we need to”. We had a little round table talk with Jean Lennox, an Irish-English friend of ours.
And in the end we once again try to answer the question: “What is culture?” And this time the answer comes from Roxanna and Nils, two students from the USA and Germany, who took part in the Hessen Global Summer Internship Program organized by the institute inter.research and the Universities of Hessen/Germany.
The Host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann