Application of the CWQ in Consulting and Training

Geert Hofstede refers to culture as "software of the mind." Values, assumptions and beliefs taught as we grow up, become embedded in the way we think about things and they shape our behavior. Research has shown cultural groups generally share values. Because of differences between cultures, cultural values, assumptions and beliefs can produce widely different behaviors and perspectives. In short, people do not always behave the same way you do and to expect them to, especially when working across cultures, is a mistake that costs businesses millions (for example rework) and unnecessary expense to correct.

Cross-Cultural Understanding - What Do You Need?

Various work situations require different levels of cultural understanding. ITAP provides learning at the following levels.

Level I Programs - Usually relatively short in length. Often contain more breadth rather than depth of content.

These programs offer the "Do's and Don'ts" of international business, often mixing information about etiquette with advice on what types of business gifts to give and how to best form business relationships in other countries.

They also may provide specific information about travel, banking, embassies, etc. These programs are most useful for employees with little or no international business experience.


Level II Programs - Usually more in-depth, might have several phases and be longer in duration; often these programs are embedded in an initiative rather than stand-alone programs.

Level II programs provide analytic tools to help participants understand the relationship between culture and business. The tools and approaches provide models of cultures based on research in the field of comparative sociology or anthropology.

Participants learn to understand social and business transactions by applying the results these analytic tools, and are often tested through the use of critical incidents or case studies. At the end of these programs, participants are able to analyze general culture-based business transactions to determine how, in a specific culture, the business transaction might be different from the transaction in their own cultures.


Level III - Consulting

At this level, specific information (typical of Level I) and analytic tools (provided in Level II) are brought to bear on:

  1. Specific business problems or opportunities (such as sales or marketing, call centers, mergers or acquisitions) within the area of these employees' professional scope
  2. Relocation assistance for employees and their families
  3. In-country business support for the relocated executive working across cultures
  4. Decision-making at executive organizational levels (e.g., where to locate a new plant in a region)

At the end of these sessions, participants are able to apply the analytic tools and specific country, regional, and culture-based information to business problems in their areas of expertise.


Cross-Cultural Effectiveness - How Does It Happen?

According to Fons Trompenaars, to be effective when working across cultures one needs to recognize that there are cultural differences, respect these differences and find ways to reconcile them in the work you do together.

Recognize: Results from the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaireâ„¢ help introduce foundational cultural differences, while indicating the preferences of the respondent along six continuums of cultural dimensions. These cultural dimensions indicate cultural differences that are deeply embedded (software of the mind).

Respect: Respecting differences in deeply held beliefs and values is the first step towards finding ways to reconcile different approaches to achieve required business outcomes.

Reconcile: Rarely is there only one way to achieve a desired outcome. When working across cultures, those who are more likely to be successful working, managing or leading across cultures will be those who understand how to apply a wide variety of approaches, based on the cultural preferences of others or what is appropriate in multi-cultural settings.