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Asian vs Western Culture in a powerpoint

Submitted by on Wednesday, 3 July 2013No Comment

Asian vs Western Culture in a powerpoint

Culture is one of the more challenging factors of doing business, and few areas are as frustrating as understanding how to motivate people from different cultures, easpecially between Asian and Western cultures.

So we thought a simple powerpoint (with the help a couple of useful expressions) is in order to help. Have a look:

 Asian vs Western Culture

(You can download the file here in pdf format)

The Asian vs Western culture motivation graphic explained…

The first premise is understanding culture, and understanding motivation.

· Culture is really just a collection of shared behaviours.

· Motivation is an impulse, usually to close a gap of some kind. This graphic takes the first gap as the need for food.

The fundamental difference between Asian and Western societies

One of the most fundamental difference between Western and Asian societies, and hence their cultures, is that the Western societies were shaped largely by people who had winters. This seemingly inocuous factor goes a long way to explaining motivation in a culture.

Winters create extreme hunger, and hunger has accounted for vast population movements (usually, as with the Vikings, Norse and  Goths in the form of armies), as well as the need to plan ahead (birth of science?). The combination of these two were powerful factors in the development of teams and societies.

This has been largely the experience of the West.

But what of Asia (especially South East Asia)?

Born in a land of plenty, with all-year harvests and an abundance of food freely provided by nature, Asian societies have perhaps not been moved by these two factors, and hence have grown up with different cultures and ‘mindsets’.

Returning to the graphic, there is thus a different ‘wiring’ of emotions, triggers, expectations and behaviours in Asians and Westerners, that is in part explained from the relationship to need, and particularly food, above.

Then there’s globalisation…

 This is all hunky dory until…

…we are expected to work together in companies!

So is it the East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem, or can people from different cultures (in this case Asian and Western cultures) bridge these gaps to collaborate more effectively?

We believe they can.

Bridging the cross-cultural ‘gap’

The starting point is understanding that culture is really a shared set of behaviours, and that behaviours, as we know can be changed.

But we can only do so by going back to our ‘soil’ and ‘roots’ and on the one handing becoming aware of, and on the other questioning, those behaviours. Then we need to have the courage, where necessary, to imagine alternate futures.

Cross-cultural collaboration training

Behaviours can be difficult to change. Those of you who have been to greyhound races will know that greyhounds will carry on running around a track, time and again, even after the starting rabbit has been withdrawn. Behaviours are much like that!

This is because the behaviours are ‘self-reinforced’ by the behaviours of the other greyhounds, all chasing the rabbit that is no longer there. It’s ‘herd mentality’ par excellence.

This thing called change

So what if you work in a culture, with a set of shared behaviours that block your team objective?

In a group culture (like Asia) it’s really important to understand that you have to work through these factors together. Hoping for or relying on a solitary leader to ring the changes is a recipe or disaster (we’ll cover why in future a future post).

The quickest route is to make sure your team objectives are clearly linked to Head, Heart, Hand factors. You can see these on the left hand side of the graphic and also in The Change Map here. To ‘go slow is to go fast’. It is going slow with a clear purpose and process that counts in Asia.

What you can do now

If you’re interested in fast-tracking this process, feel free to have a look at our Cross-Cultural Collaboration and Five Star Teams programmes. And stay tuned by subscribing to receive all our updates here.

Talent Technologies | Producing Change


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