Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are you ready to work in China?

Ozlem is one of my good friends from master class. Currently she is working as expat in China and very interested in cultural diversity. She has prepared recommendations on how to overcome 5 possible challenges to work and live in China as expat based on her real experience there. Let’s read her sincere and useful recommendations to us. Thanks for this nice sharing, Ozlem !

"Ooooo...I am an alien...I am a legal alien..." What a beautiful song!  Such descriptive lyrics! I never thought it would be my favorite song before I move to China.

Imagine a 30 year-old non-Chinese woman -almost loudly- singing this song and walking on the noisy streets of a Chinese city after attempting several times communication with the local people to buy some simple, daily stuff or to find out a restaurant to suppress hunger. Shocking, nerve to laugh, frustration? Or altogether. (?) Because this is a true story and she felt like an alien some time ago.

Even though I am pretty much familiar about Asian culture and people, for years working with/for them and socializing, it wasn't as easy as I thought before I move to China. I had chance to visit the city in advance of my moving decision, so I had an idea how it looks like at least. But the thing for expatriate in Asia is; visiting or being in contact for business purpose, enjoying the food and having curiosity about culture is something completely different than living in it and calling as "home". After the first shocking honeymoon period I call my adventure like "YinYang", nothing is pure good or pure bad. Or in other words, shadow cannot exist without light. Because living in China is also exciting, cheerful, amazing, enlarging and even sweeping sometimes. It is FUN. For Serap’s question about ‘5 possible challenges for Expats in China’ I believe my answers slightly modified it in ‘5 points crucial in China’. Let‘s have a look together;

1. Language Barrier. For and foremost, trying to learn the language and getting know the culture as much as you can is important. Chinese (Mandarin, indeed) is the most difficult language in the world. But it is the key to overcome the culture shock and understand the reasons behind the way of thinking and behaviors of Chinese people. Without that, it is almost impossible getting involve with local people and having a mutual understanding for good relationships.

2. Emergencies. Need to be prepared for the worst case scenarios. Make sure you have a list of phone numbers, addresses and people you can contact (Chinese or Mandarin speaking friends, coworkers and the Consulate) in case of a problem. 

3. Food. Chinese food is highly sophisticated and delicious for some of us. It is a cuisine with regionally-differentiated extensive options but taste is different than westerners get used to or tasted before somewhere out of China. Besides the taste, food security is a big question mark. There are several bad news and articles about meat and oil security and suspects for genetically-modified food. So be careful about what and where you eat.

4. Crowd. Before coming China, think twice when you say it is crowd.  You can wait for long-long time and may have 250 people queued before you for a simple table d’hote or a fast-food restaurant. It is normal not to be able to take the first coming metro and wait for the second or even the third one.  Remember that there are more than a billion of people and crowd equals to noise after a point and Chines people like it somehow. 

5. Avoiding stereotypes. Accepting and appreciating the differences. There are near 200 countries in the world and I don’t think there is one without stereotypes and generalizations. China is a country with a long history and a deep culture with thousands of good and some bad points, like others do. Promoting diversification drives empathy, abundance.  Let yourself transform into an open-minded world citizen by accepting and appreciating the differences and even strangeness. Remember that it is a country with closed borders for years, so ordinary citizens still may behave introverted against foreigners and let them feel like aliens :)


Ozlem ODA

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Ozlem Oda received her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Dokuz Eylul University and earned her Engineering and Technology Management Master’s degree from Bosphorus University.

She entered her professional life in Yazaki Automotive Turkey which performs in automotive industry and conducted several projects in Turkey and United Kingdom. Being responsible engineer, she led the company to gain ‘Best in Class, 2006’ performance award from Honda-UK with her team. She continued her career in multinational companies such as Delphi Diesel and Gates&Stackpole Intl. in several different and progressive positions, and overseed the largest and the most complex program of the company over the global organization. Since 2012 she, as a consultant, helps the companies which have trading and/or investment plans in China, supports their commercial businesses for procurement, supplier and project management aspects. She speaks fluent English and Chinese (Mandarin).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

As a future expat, do you have cross-cultural competence?

What is cross-cultural competence? It is the ability to understand other people from different cultures, communicate effectively and appropriately with them. It is also called as intercultural competence. If a person has a high cross cultural competence, this means that she/he is competent to understand different culture’s specific characteristics like behaviors, reactions, perceptions or unwritten rules very well and act accordingly.

Based on proposal of Edward T.Hall, culture has 2 parts; internal and external. Only a small portion of external culture is above water and visible behaviors of a society. Larger part is internal culture which is below the surface; in this part there are beliefs, values and thoughts pattern of culture. As you can imagine, it is quite easy to discover and experience the external culture in short period of time, because they are quite visible, observable. But it takes much more time to understand internal culture. To get internal culture you need to interact with culture more and have experience in different situations in work or social life. I think you can understand external culture in 2-3 months if you are a good observer. But you should spend minimum 1 year to understand internal culture if you have a high interaction with local people in that culture. Of course these durations can change based on your personality and similarities between foreign culture and your culture. If you are going to work or live in a similar culture like your own culture, you do not need to spend that much time to adapt.

In order to develop your cross-cultural competence as a future/current expat, I believe firstly you should have 3 key skills being open minded, having positive/constructive approach and respect to any different ideas, behaviors or reactions. I believe these are the most important 3 factors to be able to understand others and other cultures.

The interaction with other cultures is happened through communication and behaviors. So you should start to focus on external culture which includes common behaviors, reactions and traditions. Based on what you discover on this part, you can change or adapt how you speak, listen or write. This will be a quick win for your adaptation to the culture. Learning local language may also help you to understand the culture.

I recommend you to avoid cultural stereotypes. The answer how to avoid is “treat every person as individual” and do not make generalization after your few interaction with people from same culture. You can hear some popular public stereotype stories from your colleagues or friends around you, but please do not take them seriously. Try to see some statistics behind if you are in searching mode to understand common behaviors, otherwise give some time yourself to experience directly. Being patient with yourself and others is also important. Do not forget, that moment of discomfort is usually when you are at the cusp of learning!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Which language is the most difficult?

After 3-4 weeks learning experience in Danish language at a local course in Copenhagen, I decided to search on most difficult languages in the world. Because I was thinking Danish language definitely should be within top 3 because of tough pronunciation ! Here is the list of top 10 hardest languages to learn which is released by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2013.

No surprise, Chinese is chosen as the most difficult language.

1-Chinese… Spoken by over 1 billion people
2- Greek… Spoken mainly across Greece and Cyprus
3- Arabic… Spoken across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa
4- Icelandic… Very complicated grammar
5- Japanese… The written code is different than the spoken code
6- Finnish… Very complicated grammar
7- German … Largest number of native speakers in EU
8- Norwegian … Most Norwegians speak their own dialects
9- Danish… Spoken by 6 million people
10- French… Official language for 29 countries

But if you are interested in learning Chinese, I would recommend you to watch this TED video by ShaoLan, she brings a “Chineseasy” concept to show that you can learn Chinese in an easy way. It is very interesting and encouraging.

Enjoy !

Monday, December 2, 2013

A great book : I Wish I'd Known That Earlier in My Career

Finally yesterday I finished reading of Jane Horan’s book which is The Power of Positive Workplace Politics.

I participated Jane Horan’s seminar when I was at WIN Conference (Women International Network : at Prag in October this year. After the seminar at break, I saw her book on one of book stands. On the cover of book, it is written ‘I wish I’d known that earlier in my career’. It is definitely creating a curiosity with this title. So I decided to buy the book to know all secrets as soon as possible :)

There are several interesting topics which are becoming savvy, mapping power networks, managing perceptions, reputation, brand management, gender and culture issues etc. In each topic, Jane provided great tips on how to manage organizational politics positively through many good case studies. When you read these case studies, you really feel the reality and find many similarities from your work life.

Especially for cultural impacts on office politics, she emphasizes that communication styles can be different based on cultures. She says that senior executives from North America should keep in mind that in some Asian and European cultures, using questions or starting off with an apology is the way to begin a dialogue. This should not mean that people from these cultures have little executive presence or weak personalities. There are also good examples related with direct and indirect communication styles of different cultures. She says that she use below chart in her workshops, asking participants to express their feelings, perceptions and assumptions when working across direct and indirect cultures. If they are from a “different” culture, she asked how they feel working in an “indirect” culture and vice versa. The responses are below :

Direct about Indirect : Not trustworthy, evasive, beating around the bush, vague, ambiguous, reticent

Indirect about Direct : Arrogant, not credible, emotional, blunt, confrontational, insensitive

If you are not aware of these differences when you are working with different cultures, your behaviors may be understood wrongly and this can impact critical decisions about you at your organization.

Personally I enjoyed to read the book and found it quite interesting. Thanks to Jane Horan! I’d definitely recommend this book for those who are eager to manage their careers in a successful way. Good luck.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Highly recommended movie : SAMSARA

Great visual experience...

Last week I watched a documentary which is called “Samsara”, filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents. It was a great 100 min journey to the world with full of colours from different cultures, natural wonders and industrial trends. In this film, there was no single word spoken, there were just videos and pictures. You see incredible contradictions in life styles, in one moment you find yourself at the middle of a peaceful meditation and then production facilities with human robotics.

It is definitely a movie for theater, not home-screen. Because shots are presented in crystal clear 70mm. I should admit that visually this was the best film that I have ever seen.
In IMBb, it is rated as 8.2 out of 10. I believe it is well deserved score ! 

You can watch the trial from here :

Enjoy this amazing movie..

How to Create a Company Culture?

Key factors to create a company culture

Sustainable and strong company culture is one of key factors for companies to keep them alive for long years. But how can companies create a sustainable culture? Let’s ask this to Prof. Ugur Zel who is specialized in Organizational Psychology. Ugur, how do you define “company culture”?

The shortest definition for culture is “the way of doing things”. Everything happening inside a company reflects its culture. Cultural norms begin to appear from the birth of a company. And when a norm is formed it will not be easy to change it. Researches show that a country’s cultural norm changes in 30-40 years. This period decreases to 7-10 years for companies if there is enough effort to change it.

What do you mean with “norms”?

Norms are written or unwritten rules shared by the members of a society, for example a country or an organization. The word “normal” originates from the word “norm”. We accept something as normal when we think that this is in harmony with our accepted norms. If something happens to be “abnormal” in a society, it means that it is not acceptable for the majority of members of that society. It is very important to decide about the “norm set” you want to spread throughout the company in the beginning. After norms are established among the employees it becomes harder to change it.

How can we shape the culture of a company?

When we are talking about culture, we mean “common behaviors” among the employees of the company. How can a behavior be common in a company? This is critical to find an answer. In fact, to answer to this question is easy: by changing the thoughts of each employee in the way you want. In this case another question appears: How can we change their thoughts? To do this, you have two mechanisms to use. One is communication, the other is observation. Answering to these types of questions is easy, however, applying it to real life is not so easy.

What do you suggest for companies in this respect?

If you want to change the way employees behave, first thing you have to do is to understand the “root cause” of their behavior. Every behavior has a root of “emotion” and every emotion is originated by a “thought”. This means your thoughts trigger your emotions and your emotions trigger your behaviors. Unless you change somebody’s thoughts you can not change his/her behaviors. One thing you have to do is shifting his/her thought from A to B. We call this persuasion. This is why communication and observation are so important.

Can you give some examples about how to communicate with employees in this respect?

The way of communication with you employees may be formal or informal, periodic or spontaneous. The manager’s role is important in changing the behaviors of employees in the way company want. This is why “leadership” is necessary rather than “management”. Coaching is an important skill for leaders to use while communicating. Researches show that when leaders support their coaching with “feedback” the change in behaviors happen in shorter period of time. The leaders should also make sufficient observation to recognize the employees’ development. Communication integrated with observation is the most powerful tools of leadership to create a culture.

Thanks for your comments, Ugur. I think we can summarize 3 things which are important to create company culture ;

1- Setting right norms and cultural characteristics
2- Effective communication of these cultural characteristics and values
3- Leaders should be role models to shape culture

Monday, November 18, 2013

MOVEMBER at November !

Some of you may know about Movember. For the ones who don’t know ; Movember is a word created with combination of “moustache” and “November”. This is an annual activity which happens in during each November to increase awareness of men’s health problems especially like prostate cancer. In this period, Movember participants are growing their moustaches to support this concept through donations.

I have seen this activity in Copenhagen first time in my life in this month, I found it useful and also a bit funny. You can see many creative moustache types around city. It seems this activity is a good tool to increase awareness of men for health issues, you can see some statistics from as below :

 - 67 % of Movember participants recommended others to go see a doctor
 - 20 % of Movember participants went to see their doctor
 - 70 % talked about men’s health issues
 - 43 % became more aware and educated about the health risks they face

The research shows that participation in Movember does encourage men to proactively engage in the management of their health. However, findings also highlighted that some men had ignored an issue rather than taking action, seeking support or going to a doctor.

Based on my search about history of Movember, I found that since 2004, Movember Foundation charity has run events in Australia and New Zealand. In 2007, events were launched in Ireland, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan, and the United States. (wikipedia)

I believe that if you are man in these countries and would like to try some different type of moustaches design to make sure which one is better for you, November is your month ! You will not receive why, how, until when questions from your friends.. :)

Enjoy Movember !

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Interview with Deborah Levine : Cross-Cultural Diversity

Deborah, it is great to host you on my blog. You have a very interesting background with long years experiences on cross-cultural communication and diversity. You are an award-winning Author, American Diversity Report Editor, Aqqolade, Inc. Associate and also a Cross-cultural Specialist.

Firstly I would like to ask; why have you chosen to work on cultural diversity? What did ignite your desire?

I naturally gravitated towards the field of cultural diversity as a teenager, studying at Harvard University. I was fascinated by the role of folklore in shaping and expressing culture and was in the first class of the university’s new Folklore & Mythology major, with a specialty in cultural anthropology. I didn’t understood then that while born in Brooklyn, I grew up in Bermuda as the only Jewish little girl on the British island and “represented” from childhood. Returning to the States as a young girl meant being a virtual immigrant, a “polyglot”, and a youthful culture clash expert.
My journey into cultural diversity has been a combination of personal enlightenment, academic curiosity, community activism, and just being myself.

I learned that you have organized many multicultural projects and events. Can you please share one of them which made an important impact on society and you? What was the secret for success?

I created the DuPage Interfaith Resource Network (DIRN) in the Chicago area in 1990. It was a nonprofit organization that brought together diverse faith traditions to address culture clashes around the changing demographics and increased religious diversity in the western suburban technical corridor. DIRN’s signature event was an interfaith Thanksgiving event with shared music and chanting. DIRN also tapped the power of women, acquiring grants to establish a women’s network within its interfaith programs. DIRN served as a prototype for all of the multicultural programming that I recreated in the US Southeast decades since its creation including the American Diversity Report, Women’s Council on Diversity, Diversity & Economics think Tank, Youth Multicultural Video Project, and Diversity Thanksgiving.
My emphasis on creating programs that were larger than one person and could outgrow the “founders business model” was deliberate from the beginning of my work. Given my training not only as a cultural anthropologist but as an urban planner, it was vital to me that my projects have a life of their own, an anchor in the community, and, where possible, a national and even global presence beyond their local impact. Documenting that process was a key element of the success in achieving that goal. A newsletter was integral to that success from Day One as was my keynote speaking activity. Given the cutting-edge nature of my work, I had to overcome my introverted shyness and learn public speaking skills very early into my work. And I had to learn to write more than articles for a newsletter. My books have been the ambassadors for my projects and for the approach I’ve developed to cultural diversity over the years. The contacts that I acquired with my hands-on projects have mentored me and pushed me further into the publishing world so that my work has a growing audience.

As a part of your job role, you are working with different cultures as a project leader or intercultural coach. What kind of challenges and opportunities have you discovered to work with different cultures?

A key issue in communicating across cultural boundaries has been to coach different cultural representatives to connect with a broad audience. After 9/11 when the Women’s Council on Diversity was launched, I made sure that each ethnic and religious group that was associated with the Council was able to participate in public education programs. However, the skill set needed to be a panel speaker an combine information and presentation with others effectively had to be developed. I found myself in the position of being a coach for public speaking. The materials that I developed for training others, some of whom had never addressed an audience in their lives, became popular hand outs in workshops and seminars. The training sessions became a portal not only to cultural diversity expertise but also to global leadership development.
The years of field testing the training illustrated the need for a simplified, combined approach to cross-cultural communication, conflict management, and problem solving. These materials are embedded in my Train-the-Trainer textbook, Matrix Model Management System: Guide to Cross Cultural Wisdom, and the accompanying workbook. I have discovered that the basic methodology outlined in the textbook is applicable to a wide range or cultural diversity specifics including gender, generational, religious, and regional differences. The opportunities to write and coach on cultural diversity has therefore become virtually infinite.

What would your suggestions to individuals to increase awareness and impact of diversity and cross-cultural interaction in their societies?

Consider that the windows into a culture are many and that we can learn more about a culture by looking into those windows than we realize. My favorite windows for both beginners and long-time students of culture are the Arts. Music & Movement, Prints & Photography, Art & Architecture, Poetry & Plays, Culinary & Crafts skills are good places to explore culture and to create cross-cultural interaction. We enrich ourselves and open doors for others when we learn from the Arts. We form lasting relationships when we use the Arts to build bridges.
The key to success is to follow a progression of steps in your exploration: 1.) appreciate the cultural expressions 2.) be aware of the extent of culture diversity, 3.) be competent in understanding cultural differences, 4.) be strategic in forming new projects. Good intentions lead to good planning both short and long term when you plan a mission and goals in advance.

Thanks a lot Deborah.


Deborah is an award-winning author, trainer, and inspirational speaker. Her lifetime passion for crosscultural work began with a childhood as one of few Jewish families in the British colony of Bermuda and grew with her insertion into the New York City area in grade school. As a teenage activist, she joined her first civil rights picket line in 1965, was an early volunteer with SNCC, and joined the first Women’s Liberation March in NYC circa 1970. With degrees in cultural anthropology and urban planning, Deborah spent decades developing cultural programming. Having served as an executive for Jewish advocacy organizations across the USA, Deborah is now headquartered in Tennessee and consults on projects that broaden the Southern - Global Connection

Deborah specializes in...

GOING GLOBAL: Deborah's copyrighted textbook & workbook, Matrix Model Management System: Guide to Cross Cultural Wisdom are the product of more than a decade of field testing her storytelling methodology. Her handbook, Inspire Your Inner Global Leader, is a thought-provoking set of True Stories for New Leader that blend current leadership challenges with historic events such her father’s role in liberating a work camp in Nazi Germany.As a Global Leadership Trainer, Deborah provides cross-cultural workshops and coaching for several consulting companies working in the US Southeast with clients such as Volkswagen Chattanooga,International Paper, Nissan, and Kimberly Clark. She was recently appointed to the Tennessee Advisory Committee of the US Global Leadership Coalition in part due to her development of a global leadership class for Chattanooga and its teenage version for area youth. As a Keynote Speaker, Deborah shares her expertise and passion with civic organizations such as Kiwanis, Chambers of Commerce, and nonprofits ranging from community development groups to arts coalitions, women's networks, and healthcare agencies. She is a frequent speaker at conferences on preparing for a culturally diverse future at universities, corporations, and international organizations. A former media liaison for Jewish Federations, Deborah is a resource for television, radio, and print media.

GOING DIVERSE: As a Diversity Trainer, Deborah's clients have included government agencies from the federal to the municipal level, refugee service organizations, and healthcare institutions. Deborah received the 2013 Champion of Diversity Award from As Founder/Editor of American Diversity Report, she gives diverse writers the opportunity to bring new perspectives to the field of Diversity & Inclusion. Her own writing about cultural diversity spans decades of published articles appearing in The American Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Public Management & Social Policy, The Bermudian Magazine and The Bermuda Journal of Maritime Archaeology. As a Religious Diversity Expert, Deborah has received national recognition for her writing and her hands-on projects. She earned a National Catholic Press Association Award and is a Blogger with The
Huffington Post. Her articles in The Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, The Journal of Ecumenical Studies and The Christian Century are based on assignments with the American Jewish Committee, National Workshop on Christian-Jewish Relations, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and on her creation of the Women’s Council on Diversity and DuPage Interfaith Resource Network (A cutting-edge model included in Harvard’s American Pluralism Project and captured in her book, Religious Diversity in our Schools.)

GOING SOUTHERN: Deborah's latest book combines history, humor, and storytelling for New
Southerners: expats & US transplants. In Going Southern: The No-Mess Guide to Success in the South.She shares her acculturation work and her personal journey relocating to the South almost 20 years ago. As a regional Civic Leader, Deborah has won awards from TN Economic Task Force on Women and Girls Inc,/Chattanooga. Her community work includes: community correspondent for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, diversity trainer for the East Ridge TN Leadership Class, board member for numerous nonprofit and professional organizations, and membership on Volkswagen’s Diversity Council.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Interview with Deniz Kirdar True : Diversity at Workplace

Welcome to the Cultural Diversity blog, Deniz. You are working as Diversity & Inclusion Manager in one of big international company. Can you please tell us about your role and impact to your company?

My key responsibility is to develop and implement company’s global diversity & inclusion strategy together with my counterparts in different business units. The aim is to embed diversity & inclusion into the core processes so there is no need for my role in the future. It is mindset change and we would like it to be integrated into the way we think and act in the organization. We would like to make the diversity within work in a way that we have a work environment that allows and encourages differences which in turn enhances business results and enables each individual to reach their career aspirations.

What is your own definition for diversity? What are elements of diversity?

Diversity is all those differences we bring based on our life experiences, background, education and thinking. There are visible differences such as gender, race and age as well as invisible differences such as nationality and religion. At the end of the game, diversity is diversity of thought.

What kind of challenges and opportunities do you face while you try to increase diversity in your company?

Opportunities are huge; in a homogenous culture you are missing out on innovation, risk management and performance. By utilizing the full potential of the talent pool and better understanding of customer needs, the companies can do much more than they can today. The challenge stems from the same homogenous culture where it is difficult to realize the need for a change since everyone thinks alike. The world of diversity & inclusion is rather complex and multidimensional. Individual choices are as influential on the outcome as organizational cultures and both are wrapped in the socio-economic context which adds another dimension. In order to be successful, one needs to understand all factors in play.

What would be your recommendations to other companies or leaders to drive diversity at workplace successfully?

There is not one single solution that solves it all, if there were we wouldn’t be still struggling after so many years of work. What makes the needle move is a composition of multiple interventions. But before anyone moves to initiatives, there are two areas to address: accountability and measurement. Without top management commitment and accountability, the grass roots approach cannot go very far. Metrics are also very important, what gets measured gets done is such a cliché but holds true.

Thank you Deniz !


Deniz Kirdar True
Group Diversity & Inclusion Manager / A.P. Moller-Maersk

Deniz Kirdar True was born in Izmir, Turkey in 1981. She is Group Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Maersk Group. A Graduate in Mathematics, she entered Maersk Group in 2003, where she started working in Customer Service in Maersk Line. For 3 ½ years, she worked in Turkey and Switzerland and had responsibility for regional and global key clients. In 2007, she moved to Maersk Group headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark to join Process Excellence in Maersk Line. From 2007-2010, she received certification first as Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, later as Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and assumed a Project Leader role in various regional & global strategic projects and change programs in line and terminal operations, finance, sales and customer service. Deniz has MSc degree in Organisational Psychology at the University of London.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Prof.Geert Hofstede and Analysis for Cultural Differences


I have heard Prof. Geert Hofstede's name couple of years ago when I was trying to understand and define cultural differences in our management team at the company where I am working. There were 7 different nationalities out of 12 people in the team. So we got some cultural comparison analysis from Hofstede’s web site and reviewed together with management team members. It was interesting and useful experience for all of us.

Hofstede conducted one of the most comprehensive studies of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture in 1980s. Many articles have been published by him in social science and management journals around the world. He is recognized internationally for having developed the first empirical model of “dimensions“ of national culture. I really recommend you to check out his web site. You can find some free information about 5 dimensions on different cultures and even cultural comparison between 2 different countries that you will select.

I would like to share some part of cultural analysis about Danish culture here as an example, because  I am living in Copenhagen and still discovering the local culture here :)
Please find more details from this link :

Happy Reading 


Cultural Analysis of Denmark

If we explore the Danish culture through the lens of the 5-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Danish culture relative to other world cultures.

Power distance
This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal – it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us. Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organisations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.

With a score of 18 points Denmark is at the very low end of this dimension compared to other countries. This matches perfectly with what many foreigners in Denmark express: Danes do not lead, they coach and employee autonomy is required. In fact, Denmark ranks highest amongst the EU27 countries in terms of employee autonomy. With a very egalitarian mindset the Danes believe in independency, equal rights, accessible superiors and that management facilitates and empowers.

The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of “I” or “We”. In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. Denmark, with a score of 74 is an Individualistic society. This means there is a high preference for a loosely-knit social framework in which individuals are expected to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. It is relatively easy to start doing business with the Danes.

Masculinity / Femininity
A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational behaviour. A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine). Denmark scores 16 on this dimension and is therefore considered a feminine society. In feminine countries it is important to keep the life/work balance and you make sure that all are included.

Uncertainty avoidance
The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score. With a score of 23 Denmark scores low on this dimension. This means that that Danes do not need a lot of structure and predictability in their work life. Plans can change overnight, new things pop up and the Danes are fine with it. It is a natural part of their work life.

Long term orientation
The long term orientation dimension is closely related to the teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with society’s search for virtue, the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view. The Danes score 46, making it a short term orientation culture, though very close to the middle. Societies with a short-term orientation generally have a strong concern with possessing and if A is true then B must be false. Focus in business life is very much on what is happening now instead of in ten years time.

Source :

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Has your fashion style been impacted by other cultures?

I believe fashion has started with a basic concept as a need of clothing to keep ourselves warm. But in last 60-70 years, we have started to make the fashion more complicated and exaggerated. Clothing is not meaning keeping warm and protection anymore, because designers from different cultures all around the world continue to add their magic touches to fashion every day! I think this makes fashion more attractive and enjoyable. As Coco Chanel once said, "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening."

If we look to the cultural impact on fashion… I am sure most of you can guess the nationality of people from clothes that they wear, especially if these clothes are traditional clothes. In big cities, we rarely see traditional clothes on people’s wear. But it is quite interesting that these traditional clothes have unique cultural identity. There may be some meanings or symbolism behind of traditional clothes. For example; the Kimono gives signals about the person’s social class, wealth, and even marital status. Everyone from Geishas to the royal family wore kimono, and it once was the most common type of clothing in Japan. Today, however, Kimonos are usually seen only at funerals, weddings, or other formal ceremonies.

I think when you start to learn or live in different cultures, your fashion style may be affected from new culture after some time. Have you ever experienced this?

I would love to hear your comments on this.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Opps.. Control your fingers !

Whatever the situation in any culture, you should be careful with your hand gestures. Some of them may create wrong impression or be offensive to others.

Firstly let me explain the handshake. In most of Asian cultures like Japan, Korea, China, they prefer bow instead of handshake. The bow is a sign of mutual respect. The more senior you are, the deeper you bow. If you shake hands, handshake should not be strong or long. But in Western culture, a weak handshake is signs of weakness or lack of interest. As soon as you discover these different meanings, you stop judge the hand shake of other cultures.

The thumbs-up gesture is commonly used in many cultures to signify ‘OK’. But in some cultures like Australia, Greece and Iran, the meaning is totally different. It translates to ‘up to yours’. In Germany and Hungary, the upright thumb is used to represent the number 1, but it represents the number 5 in Japan.

The victory sign is a common gesture in American culture for victory or peace. But in some other cultures, it may be accepted as an insult.

The two fingers crossed sign is seen as wishing good luck in mostly Western culture. Based on my searches, the only exception country where this can be seen as offensive is Paraguay.

By the way, I liked this video on You Tube about hand gestures all around the world. It summarizes main hand gestures well.

This is definitely a secret language that we should be aware of its different meanings.

Enjoy and share your experiences if you have ! :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Are you ready to work with different cultures?

Working with different cultures has become an important skill in our global world, it is absolutely a challenge. There are many people go to other countries to work, majority of managers need to manage their teams who are located in different countries virtually. I would like to share some of tips to prepare you to work with different cultures. I have added my observation and experiences here with you as I have also continued to work with different cultures during my working life and enjoy it a lot!

Firstly know your culture
Do you know your culture and its reflection to your behaviors? In order to be able to understand other cultures, firstly you should understand your own culture. I met with many people who grew up in 3-4 different countries, not in his/her original country during childhood. Maybe they can be affected by other cultures on top of their original culture. But in any case, you should know your family values coming from roots and have a high awareness about your own values, behaviors and personal traits. If you know them, it will be easier for you to discover other cultures and differences between your culture and the other culture.

Respect to other cultures
Respect, respect, respect to other cultures! It is very important to understand that there is no right or wrong between yours and other cultures. Please do not judge other cultures’ traits. Some of local culture traits may seem really funny for you. I also observe that some local people are quite mature to joke about their own cultures, but it is important to be careful when you joke for other cultures, you never know whether some local people can take your jokes seriously or not.

Observe locals and talk with them
You should be a good observer to understand cultural elements and reflection to behaviors. Sometimes observation may not be enough, I recommend you to meet and talk with locals in every possible occasion, ask questions with showing respect and share your culture. I think it is important to share your culture with them, because they should also know you better and understand reasons behind of your behaviors. Knowing each other will make relationships much stronger.

Be open and eager to learn new culture
Yes, learning and trying to adapt new culture are out of your comfort zone. But it is a good development opportunity to enrich your experiences. During my working life, I have observed many international colleagues that the ones who spent effort to learn local culture(s) they worked with have been able to build stronger relationships and be more successful than others. A small example ; if you can speak even some key words in local language of that culture, you have an advantage in building relationship easier and get respect from local people.

You may make mistakes
Yes, you may make mistakes at the beginning. But please think the solution to not do the same mistake again. If you see other international colleagues who are making mistake, please be open to help them.

I believe showing empathy and listening others with respect are first elements to learn new cultures and adapt you. I personally saw benefits of them in my adaptation to new culture. As soon as you start to learn more details about new cultures, I am sure you will start to discover some similarities between cultures which are also fun.
Enjoy this unique experience!