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Welcome

ITAP International specializes in global, cross-border consulting. We focus on helping individuals, teams and organizations work across internal and national borders, achieving success through people. We are experts working in multiple countries with extensive line and staff experience in multiple sectors. Our work is based on the best research and the best global practices. Our services focus on:

  1. Talent retention and development
  2. Effectiveness of the senior team and mission critical global teams
  3. Global workforce development
  4. Transformation and change

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Home of the CWQ™

The Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ is based on the seminal cultural research of Dr. Geert Hofstede, with whom ITAP has had a long relationship. ITAP is one of only 2 companies worldwide endorsed by Dr. Hofstede and approved to represent his research. According to Dr. Hofstede, "This [approval] is due to their professionalism and deep understanding of my work.”

Culture, what Dr. Hofstede refers to as "software of the mind/mental programming," is a critical variable that guides peoples' actions and reactions. Understanding one's own culture and the impact of culture on the actions of others is essential for effective global business interactions. The Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ provides respondents with insights about themselves and a better understanding of how their cultural preferences, as well as the cultural preferences of others, impact working relationships.

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The Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ (CW), based on the research of Geert Hofstede, produces individual cultural profiles. The questionnaire is comprised of 60 questions and takes about 15 - 20 minutes to complete online. The responses to the questionnaire produce a cultural display of preferences along five cultural dimensions: Individualism, Power Distance, Certainty, Achievement and Time Orientation. Automated expert analysis helps respondents understand how to improve business results through cross-cultural understanding. Respondents receive a multi-dimensional report containing their results. The questionnaire results and information compare each individual's results with country averages.

The Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ is a particularly effective instrument to assist employees who:

  • Travel internationally to carry out their assignments
  • Work on global teams
  • Lead employees globally
  • Have frequent contact with employees from other countries
  • Have supervisors or subordinates from countries other than their own
  • Provide information or guidelines to people working in different countries

Features and Benefits
of the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ (CW)

FEATURES BENEFITS
The questionnaire is completely web-enabled. This makes it easy to administer and complete. The facilitator can choose to have individual users' questionnaire results display immediately or deliver the results at the learning session.
The questionnaire is available on a secure website and results can be distributed electronically through Acrobat pdf files. Respondents can fill out the questionnaire from anywhere in the world. Consultants can print out results from anywhere in the world. (Reduces time and mailing costs.)
The questionnaire was developed by Dr. Geert Hofstede and includes questions designed by Dr. André Laurent. Because it is research-based and associated with two of the world's leading experts in the intercultural field, it increases the validity of the tool. Research which creates the country results is published and widely available in Hofstede's Culture's Consequences.
The questionnaire produces a respondent's cultural profile on five dimensions: Individualism, Power Distance, Certainty, Achievement and Time Orientation. Because there are only five dimensions, the information is easy to learn, remember and apply in a business setting.
Respondents can be given a choice of countries for comparison (from a 60+ country database of national averages) or provided with a pre-specified group of countries for comparison. Allows the user's report to be customized to display countries of particular interest.
The graphs contained in the user's report are available in two versions: the original vertical version or the new horizontal version. The facilitator can decide which version to use for each project/program.
The user's report contains a results summary which identifies the respondent's cultural preferences, and, for each dimension, provides an individualized results explanation as well as an individualized expert analysis of the user's scores and their scores compared to country data. Helps the respondent understand the information about the dimension and internalize it to a specific business setting. Makes it easy for respondents to identify the impact of their cultural preferences on others and therefore helps improve communications and productivity.
The questionnaire is a learner-focused instrument. A facilitator can help participants focus the questionnaire results on the participants' workplace. Use of the questionnaire can help minimize culture-based misunderstandings, improve cross-cultural relationships, and develop global mindsets in employees.
The respondent learns how an awareness of workplace preferences can be useful in a variety of business situations, both at home and abroad. The learning has broad applicability. Once the respondent is familiar with the dimensions and their associated workplace behaviors, appropriate adjustments can be made when interacting with people from any culture.
The system can be set up to automatically generate team/group barcharts and country barcharts for each dimension. The facilitator can use these additional materials to facilitate learning about team dynamics and how the team's/group's results compare to different country averages.
Each CW project has a designated facilitator. Facilitators can manage their own programs. They have online access to information about the questionnaire completion status for users in their programs, can send reminder emails, and can view/print individual user and group reports.
Customized demographics can be chosen by clients. Data can be analyzed according to specific client needs. For example, clients may wish to know the cultural differences between different operational locations in different countries, e.g. to improve training, or to consider different employee reward systems.

 

How the results of the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ can help in your work

Knowing your own preferences:

  • helps you understand how those with different values and behaviors will interpret your actions
  • helps you determine how to express your values through actions that will be effective in culturally diverse workplaces.

Knowing about cultural preferences helps you:

  • recognize behaviors that indicate a preference for one orientation of a dimension or the other
  • respond to the individual person rather than a stereotype of someone from that country.

Knowing about cultural preferences helps your organization:

  • develop a common vocabulary for employees of an organization as they work internationally. For example, imagine a German manager who understands her own preference saying to her Canadian subordinate: "Perhaps you have less of a need to document all of the details than I do, which is why you haven't been providing me with monthly updates of your work. Perhaps we can compromise a bit on this by . . . ." Her subordinate might respond: "My preference is to get on with my work rather than report on it, but you certainly have a legitimate need for this information. I'll provide a monthly update. Let me know if it is as detailed as required." This is a creative discussion when it could well have gone otherwise.
  • depersonalize potentially difficult discussions about differences to help effectively resolve business interactions.

Uses for the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ in your organization

The Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ can be used in the following types of situations:

1. New Employee Orientation - Establish the global nature of your company for new employees. Set corporate expectations that employees will interact with people of various cultures and will be expected to at least appreciate differences among represented cultural groups. Use the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ in new employee orientation.

2. Executive Relocation Coaching - Prepare executives/employees (and their families) who are relocating to new countries. Help them think through whether or not their preferences will be effective in the new environment. Review their new responsibilities and offer alternative approaches that may work better than their "natural" style. Use the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ in relocation training or country briefings.

3. Executive Coaching - Coaching and business briefing for the global executive for leading a global workforce, or preparation for international travel, work, decisions, etc. Distant interaction (e.g. telephonic/Skype, etc.) may be substituted for face-to-face interaction. Use the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ in executive coaching.

4. Cultural Awareness Training - Help employees benefit from knowing about cultural preferences of other employees, and their vendor/suppliers, or customers from other countries. Provide specific skill-based training in applying these skills (in custom programs such as "Presenting to the Japanese.") Use the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ in cultural awareness training and consulting.

5. Leading, Managing and Working in a Global or Multicultural Workplace - Employees and managers working in a multi-cultural companies benefit from understanding culturally-based behaviors in the workplace. Helps them prepare alternative approaches that are more effective in various cultures. Use training programs framed around a foundation of the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ results to introduce culturally-based behaviors and provide insights on how to be effective working and managing in the multicultural workplace.

6. Conducting a Cultural Audit - Analyze workplace preferences to align HR/OD and business practices in various countries. Use the data collected to recommend alignment of business practices with outcomes, not processes. Use the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ to collect data to inform these decisions.

7. Developing Global, Virtual and/or Multicultural Teams - Help team leaders and team members understand the impact of culture on leadership/followership, decision making, conflict resolution, and team communications. Use the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ to collect data on similarities and differences to help the teams set protocols and work together more effectively.

The Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ report contains results on each of five (5) cultural dimensions:

1. Individualism (Individualism - Group)
2. Power Distance (Hierarchical - Participative)
3. Certainty (Need for Certainty - Tolerance for Ambiguity)
4. Achievement (Achievement - Quality of Life)
5. Time Orientation (Long-Term Orientation - Short-Term Orientation)

If you think of each dimension as a continuum, each of your scores will be a point on the corresponding dimension's continuum. A higher score will indicate a preference for the orientation indicated on that end of the continuum; a lower score will indicate a preference for the orientation on the opposite end of the continuum.

Your results may or may not correspond to your country's average. A country average is a point that represents the top of a bell curve under which all those in the database from a particular country (who have taken the instrument) will be represented. Remember that culturally similar people often have variations in preferences - as groups, however, they can be differentiated. So don't assume colleagues' preferences from their country average (these can only be used as guidelines), but base your responses on what you learn directly from your colleagues' behaviors.

There are no right or wrong answers or profiles. Whether or not your style will be effective in a given situation depends on the approach, the context, and the desired outcome.

Example #1: if you have a hierarchical orientation (prefer to manage by giving explicit instructions) and are working in a low power distance context, you may not be able to achieve your goals by fiat; persuasion and modeling work best in a low power distance context. However, if the context is a crisis, where orders are more expected even in low power distance contexts, you may be more successful.

Example #2: If you have a participative orientation and are working in a high power distance context, if the goal of your work is to bring about change, persuasion and modeling may not be sufficient to accomplish this. It may take explicit direction from someone at a higher level (yourself if you operate at that level). However, if you are a member of a team and teambuilding is an object, the low power distance behavior of modeling and persuasion may indeed be effective, even in a high power distance context.

None of the cultural dimensions operate in isolation from the others. Complexity is the rule, and determining the most appropriate and effective initiative in different cultures requires knowledge of cultural differences, understanding of the people you are working with and their workplace, and the general environment - political, economic, and social - in which we live and work.

Sample Learnings from Results

Individualism
How to Interact With...

 

Colleagues with an Individual Orientation...
  • Learn to expect direct and quick answers to your questions.
  • Recognize that colleagues will not feel the need to consult others before making a decision.
  • Appeal to their self-interest more than to the group interest.
Colleagues with a Group Orientation...

  • Learn not to expect direct and quick answers to your questions.
  • Allow colleagues to consult each other without being suspicious about it.
  • Appeal more to the common interest than to his/her self-interest.

 


Example: Relocating to another country


If you are relocating to a country with a higher group orientation, make sure that you are aware of the need for colleagues to consult a larger group before making decisions; therefore, early stages of decision-making may take more time than you expect, although implementation may be generally more rapid than you expect.

If you are relocating to a country with a higher individual orientation, be aware that individuals whose role or position enables them to speak on behalf of the larger group without directly consulting them will often make decisions quickly. You can also expect that you will need to take more individual responsibility for your job performance than you may be used to.

Power Distance
How to Interact With...

Colleagues with a Hierarchical Orientation...
  • Look for signs that your approach to seniority and hierarchy is not too challenging.
  • In dealing with senior management, you will need to take steps to adjust your style to cultures where inequalities among people are both expected and desired (Hofstede, 1991) and where senior managers are expected to tell juniors what to do.
  • Recognize their "authority," be deferential.
  • Use legitimate power if you have any.
  • Expect managers to decide and often to tell subordinates (or you) what and how to do something.
  • Expect your clients to apply management authority and decisiveness and feel the need to control their subordinates (or you).
  • Remember that subordinates who have a preference for hierarchical orientation expect their managers and team leaders to tell them what to do. Do not mistake this for lack of initiative.
Colleagues with a Participative Orientation...
  • Use more gentle persuasion and influencing skills.
  • Include colleagues in the discussion. Provide them with choices to discuss and explain your position/suggestions.
  • Recognize that they want a more equal discussion regardless of the levels of those involved.
  • They may expect subordinates (or you) to design "how" something is accomplished while they define the "what."
  • They may prefer to work with those who can question and challenge their ideas.


Example: Supervising someone from another country


If you are supervising someone with a stronger hierarchical orientation than yours, you will need to provide him or her with more direction and oversight than you would prefer from your own supervisor.

If you are supervising someone with a stronger participative orientation than yours, recognize that they may feel as though you trying to "micromanage' them if you tell them not only what to do but also how to do it. If they ask you questions or offer suggestions about something, it does not mean they are challenging your authority.

Certainty
How to Interact With...

Colleagues with a Need for Certainty...

  • Recognize their need for information. Have available lots of supporting data and even theory, if appropriate. Use a logical flow to your interactions. Provide them with examples of others who have used the approach successfully.
  • Provide them with a cost analysis to help them see the cost benefits comparison.
  • Give them lots of time to make the decision.
  • Use channels (follow the rules) to get things done e.g., to get an introduction.
  • They may seem structured and inflexible; remember they prefer compliance with procedures.
Colleagues with a Tolerance for Ambiguity...
  • Provide them with an outline of information for them to use in decision-making. They may not need to know how it is going to work as long as the numbers make sense.
  • There is less need to prove others have tried an approach and that it works, although a case study couldn't hurt - but provide it in bullets.
  • Start with the main points, then build your case around their questions.
  • Think "outside" the box as these colleagues and clients are less likely to be bound by rules and regulations.
  • Challenge and question "the way things are done."
  • Rules may be broken for pragmatic reasons.

Example: Working on a team with people of different nationalities

If you have a higher need for certainty than others, perhaps you should volunteer for a planning role and you should expect that the structure of the team or its implementation strategies may be less well defined than you would prefer.

If you have a higher tolerance for ambiguity than others, you will need to appreciate others' need for compliance with procedures and an orderly approach, and understand that they are likely to expect the same of you. Overemphasis on your preference towards a "just do it" attitude may lead to resentment and withdrawal of cooperation, rather than the intended impact of "empowering" others and achieving objectives.

Click here if you would like to find out your Certainty profile.

Achievement
How to Interact With...

Colleagues with an Achievement Orientation...
  • Show drive or ambition for completion of tasks and meet deadlines.
  • Respond with a sense of urgency.
  • Deliver what you promise, when you promise, and give 20% more than you promised.
  • Can work under even unpleasant conditions.
  • Remember these colleagues may "Live to Work."
Colleagues with a Quality of Life Orientation...
  • Use a consultative approach.
  • Avoid a strong "self-display."
  • Stress interdependence.
  • Prefer a quality work life atmosphere.
  • Remember these colleagues are more likely to "Work to Live."

Example: Modifying a product or training program for other countries

If you are highly achievement oriented and working with people who have more of a quality of life orientation, the process you use to develop the product, its packaging and distribution system, or a training program, may need to be modified so that you can accomplish your goals by working through others.

If you have a higher quality of life orientation, your more achievement oriented colleagues may perceive you as less driven or ambitious than they are. They may as a consequence display some frustration based on their greater expectation for urgency and delivery versus your preference for establishing consultative relationships and rapport. Recognition of this dynamic in your initial interactions may help you to establish an effective foundation for the cooperation you seek to develop.

Time Orientation
How to Interact With...

Colleagues with a Long-Term Orientation...
  • Define success over a long time horizon.
  • Are more likely to be rewarded for sales growth and market position than for the sake of short-term profits.
  • Provide rewards consistently, based on regular patterns.
  • Be willing to adapt policies and guidelines to different contexts.
  • Expect status to play a role in business relationships.
  • Expect that business loyalties will remain stable over time.
  • Show patience and perseverance.
Colleagues with a Short-Term Orientation...
  • Plan to achieve quick results and rapid fulfillment of business priorities.
  • Are more likely to be rewarded for short-term profits than long-term market position.
  • Provide rewards based on achievement of results.
  • Apply policies and guidelines widely whatever the context.
  • Expect status not to play an overt role in business relationships.
  • Expect that business loyalties may change over time.

Example: Working on a joint venture

In countries with a long-term orientation, organizations measure success over a long time frame, and factors such as market position and customer satisfaction are much more important in evaluating business performance than bottom line results. If you have more of a short-term orientation and are working with people in countries with a long-term orientation, you may be viewed as short-sighted and impatient if you insist on meeting short-term goals at the expense of what is believed best for the long-term health of the business.

In countries with a short-term orientation, efforts are expected to produce quick results, and companies often use management control systems which judge how effectively a manager has contributed to the company's bottom line. If you have more of a long-term orientation and are working with people in countries with a more short-term orientation, you may view this constant emphasis on short-term results as myopic and harmful to the business; on the other hand, your colleagues with a short-term orientation may view you as incompetent and unfocused if your actions and decisions do not take into account current business needs.

Overview

Cultural values and preferences can impact how the employees, vendors/suppliers and customers of a global organization respond to its strategies, products, practices and communications. A marketing strategy, training program, compensation plan, advertising campaign, competency model, corporate communication or personnel policy which is successful in one culture may be wholly ineffective in a different culture, resulting in not just loss of revenue, but loss of goodwill as well.

Cultural audits examine current practices, programs and processes to identify how culturally appropriate they may be for multi-cultural or global audiences. They enable the global organization to align business processes with desired outcomes. ITAP International can help your organization achieve its global vision and strategy through customized cultural audits and action plans based on results.

Conducting Cultural Audits

A cultural audit consists of three stages: Assessment, Analysis and Recommendation. The Assessment stage can consist of any or all of the following:

  • Review of internal documents
  • Review of print and other media (radio, TV, newspaper, magazine, web content, etc.)
  • Site visits
  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • Interviews with stakeholders to define desired outcomes
  • Data collection for comparison with a cultural database.

The objective of a cultural audit is to identify areas in business practices for improving cultural sensitivity. It clearly identifies challenges and opportunities, establishes a baseline, analyzes the gaps, and directs the organization toward cost effective initiatives.

The goal is to build employees' loyalty and enhance their productivity, increase the client base adherence, and attract more new clients - thus driving the company's overall competitive advantage.

Cultural audits can save time, money and effort. They can prevent the erosion of internal and external relationships needed to achieve high performance. Audits can focus the business on prevention of errors in global markets and with the global employee bases. They can also build cultural competence and provide the infrastructure for leveraging continuous improvement.

Examples of Areas for Application of Cultural Audits

A. Outsourcing - US attitudes towards debt and credit are significantly different from the understanding of debt and credit in countries such as India, China, the Philippines, and Costa Rica (as well as other countries/cultures locations chosen). Call center agents need to deal with US Americans who are carrying a heavy debt load. It may be particularly difficult for employees from these cultures to empathize without a great deal of context.

B. Globalization of HR Practices - Company A has successfully rolled out peer mentoring in the US. Peer mentoring assumes individuals are willing to take responsibility to work with their peers to gather and share information about the organization. Employees with a preference for Power Distance may incorrectly expect the manager to provide this information for them and may incorrectly be perceived as "not willing to take initiative." As currently structured, Company A has created a process that inadvertently discriminates against employees with a preference for Power Distance.

C. HR materials like policies, training manuals, employee handbooks - Companies want to provide employees with information and knowledge but do not know if their materials are legally and culturally appropriate outside the home country.

Notes on Implementation

Cultural Audit recommendations can be implemented through the ITAP Alliance. Localization implementation of everything from HR Policies and training materials to marketing presentations and product descriptions can create just the differentiation that will set your company apart from your competition.

The Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™(CWQ) has been used for various organizational approaches including:

  1. Onboarding – Administering the CWQ to new employees and inserting a module on cultural differences in the onboarding training gives new employees non-threatening language to talk about differences.  It also positions the company as a global organization sensitive to cultural diversity.
  2. Values comparisons – 
    a.    The CWQ has been used in M&A integration and change/transformation scenarios to help the organization identify where the underlying employee values may create barriers to the change.  ITAP can help identify these areas and recommend approaches to overcome identified issues.
    b.    CWQ also can identify when divisions or remote locations are culturally “different” from headquarters and recommend how to better align the two.
  3. Leadership and Talent Development – understanding how culture impact business practices helps talent and leaders better prepare for global responsibilities.  Click here for more information on ITAP’s Global Business Leader Certification Program 

CWQ for Cultural Research

The Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire™ has been used in a wide variety of research capabilities including:

A.    Safety and Risk Mitigation
In many industries safety is a major risk factor.  ITAP can measure how cultural differences impact attitudes towards rick and safety.  Please click here to download a sample report.

B.    Global Call Center Development    
ITAP International offers services to improve customer experience that is rooted in our understanding of customer experience from a cross-cultural framework.  Cultural values define customer experience. ITAP can support research on:

  1. Location Selection- Beyond language and labor cost, culture is essential in determining the best location for your call centers.
  2. Agent Selection - ITAP believes it is in the outsourcer interest to define the selection criteria (success factors or competencies) of customer service agents. ITAP's work in this area involves creating a competency model that is culturally suited to both customer experience expectations and the agent attitudes and behaviors.
  3. Agent Development -ITAP's experience is that many such programs are incomplete. Agents can improve customer interactions through a deeper understanding of cultural differences.
  4. Management and Coaching -Beyond legal agreements and tracking metrics, cultural variables are perhaps even more important in management effectiveness. Cultural differences show up in areas such as how priorities get communicated, approaches to conflict, and desire to engage in personal conversations.
  5. Quality Processes -The quality team must also benefit from the cross-cultural knowledge that now exists at the production level. ITAP will work with your quality professionals to add depth of understanding behind the quality scores and reporting practices in your operations. 

C.    HR Processes and Policies
One size does not fit all and corporate policies and procedures for global companies need to be culturally sensitive.  ITAP’s Culture Audits  identify areas where policies and practices need to be culturally sensitive or culturally neutral.

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