The first time that I went to Japan, the first time I visited there I did the mistake that probably most people make when they visit Japan for the first time. I went there for a conference and the first Japanese person, the organizer that I met. I met them, stretched out my hand to greet them. And clearly that's not how greeting works in Japan. I knew that, I had prepared for the trip, but my instinct was still to stretch out my hand when I encounter someone. And to this day, I do that even with my French in-laws. In Germany, when you greet family, you often, it's kind of a handshake hug combination. And that's why you kind of prepare for when I meet my French in-laws, that's what I wanna do. But that's not what happens in France right? So I rely on 21 years of living in Germany and going through that ritual of greeting, always the same way. Kicking that habit, losing that is really tricky. Now you can think of all other matters of situations that you encounter also in organizational circumstances. You might be ask by a colleague for feedback on something that they did. You might scan a business report for what's the most relevant information. You might wanna, you know, you might have to manage your emotions in some situations and for all of these scenarios, you rely on cultural scripts that you have learned over time. And you deploy them more or less automatically, mindlessly if you want. One of the most famous cultural researchers Geert Hofstede, called these scripts and culture in that light software of the mind. It's basically mental programming that runs in the background almost. You almost don't notice it, it takes care of every day stuff. And the software metaphor I really like because it's not hardware. It's not our biology. It's not our hard wiring that determines the differences in behavior between social groups or ethnic groups. It's really the learned cultural scripts that we have that make up the difference. So, let's think about culture, this mental programming, software of the mind, as something that is shared amongst members of a social group. Something you've learned to pick it up over time through imitating others and through active conceptualization that you experience and of something that is enduring. Culture doesn't fluctuate from one day to the next. It changes but it changes a little bit more slowly. Now the cultural scripts that we have are often the starting points for how we think about the world around us and about problems that we encounter, how we behave and how we interact with others. And clearly it's not the only determinant of behavior. There is clearly our biology that drives us to particular ways: The fight or flight instinct, for example. You could call that our hardware. There is personality which is also part of our hardware to a certain degree; so different chemical balances in peoples' brains make them respond differently to different situations. And there are situational cues that determine what you perceive to be the right course of action. But culture is an important part of what shapes our thinking, our behavior, and our interaction with others. Now, cultural theorists really diverge in their views on how strong that culture influence is. On the strongly cultural deterministic side people would argue that culture is so deeply ingrained in our brain that it is completely automatically deployed. We've internalized it so much that we are not even aware that it is an influence. We take it for granted. What our culture does is the only way to think, to behave and to interact with others. On the other side of the spectrum, people argue that there is an agency in how we deploy what our culture teaches us. There culture becomes more of a tool chest, where the individual cultural scripts that we have are tools that we can use; that we can combine to tackle problems that we encounter. There's more choice there. So here people can actually maybe imagine different ways of behaving and actually even adapt behaviors but they are still falling back to kind of their more comfortable tools. In either case culture does shape, to a large extent, how we deal with everyday situations and how we behave clearly in organizations as well. Culture's a really broad concept. You can apply it to all manners of social groups, clearly national cultures, ethnic cultures. There are professional cultures, organizational cultures, departmental cultures, and even specific group cultures. In all those cases, the function's essentially the same. It's rules and scripts for thinking, behaving, and interacting with others. People sometimes like to make the distinction between cultures and subcultures. You could think of the 1970s in Britain for example: a time of some economic hardship but there was also middle class that was rising. There was a little bit more consumerism that was burgeoning in Britain at the time; and at that very period, in the mid 70s, you have punk as a subculture, as a counter-culture that emphasizes not clearly middle class consumerism, but proletarian values, anti-authoritarianism, non-conformity, even anarchy to some degree. People have labeled that as a subculture. Nowadays people actually talk about this more as co-cultures, because the mainstream cultures and subcultures can actually influence each other so they are coexisting to some degree. Now the other distinction we can make, is not just about the scope, how many people are part of a culture, but how strong is that culture? How restrictive is it on behavior? How strongly are norms actually enforced? So, my academic professional culture, for example, is very permissive for weirdnesses embraced. So different behaviors, different ways of thinking, this is what we cherish. If you think about investment banking, the culture's a lot more restrictive in terms of kind of conduct, dress, language is a little bit more codified, and even standards of success are very, very particular. If you ever think about the effects of culture, they often think in terms of overt behaviors Especially for social interaction, for reading, for conversation, for eating together. Those are the kinds of things that you prepare for when you go for a trip abroad. But the effects of culture are more profound, actually, they precede things that come before behavior even becomes formatted or becomes observable. They impact cognition and emotions. For cognition, I could show you an oval shape and ask you to guess what kind of sport that is. Depending on where you come from in the world you either have no idea or it's American football clearly or it's rugby. Culture provides you with these tools to interpret ambiguous cues. And it goes deeper than that not just recognition but actually interpretation, what does it mean? Michael Morris has this great experiment where he shows people an image of a group of fish and then the head of that group is a single fish. And he asked participants, why is that fish ahead? And for the participants with the American mindset their interpretation is that fish is leading the other fish. But the Chinese mindset interpreted it as the other fish are chasing the fish ahead. So that's an internal cause or external cause attribution, depending on culture background. The other affect of culture's on emotions. You look around you and see other people respond emotionally to specific situations and that's what shapes your interpretation of what is an appropriate emotional response to a particular cues. Whether it is appropriate to show emotions at all in the first place. So the way that you interpret your own emotional states and you regulate your emotional expression that's determined by culture. We can think about this as very constraining. The cognitive constraints and emotional constraints that culture that puts on us but I'd like to think about it as an enabler as well. Innovation and entrepreneurship in the US. People have often made the argument that that really draws from the specific cultural environment that there is in the USA. And the same argument can be made for Kaizen and the equality revolution. That you can say that it can only have happened in Japan, because of the cultural scripts that are available there. At this point we can ask ourselves, where does culture come from in the first place? The quick answer is almost from everywhere. There are a myriad of influences that shape a culture. Patterns of interaction within a familiar unit, religions, larger social associations and groupings like political factions. The education system. The media. All of these spheres of social activity generate their own scripts and norms of behavior. And they get diffused and combined to make ultimately the mix that makes a particular culture. And that's why cultures have some extraordinarily complex thing to understand it. It's not easy to reduce it to a few characteristics and it also explains cultural change. If you have these different spheres of social activity that influence culture, if you change one of them, it ultimately changes the mix of the culture. If a country opens its media to foreign media content for example. You would seize to some degree over time an impact on the national culture. If you change the education system, over time that would change the national culture. So sometimes those changes can seem very, very slow. They might seem glacial. But occasionally, we actually see these watershed moments in history, where maybe change has built up over time to some degree and drastically cultures change. And I can think of the French revolution as an example, or the Chinese cultural revolution, or a few years later, the economic reforms, and their impact on the cultural environment in the country. So we get that cultural complex, and especially in a multi-cultural, like in a cross-cultural team, that kind of complexity can really make your head explode. To reduce that level of complexity, people have developed frameworks to make cultural complexity more manageable. One approach has been to actually dissect culture and try to identity elements that exist in all cultures and allows us to understand better how cultures operate. The other route that's been taken is to try to find differences between cultures and to then classify and dichotomize those cultures to highlight those differences. The framework that I like best for the dissecting of cultures finding these elements is Edgar Shein's model, the Onion Model of Culture. And it's been developed originally in the context of organizational cultures, but it looks great for natural cultures and any other scope that you want to apply it to. So I'm going to explain it with my own experience here in Italy. We'll talk about the Italian onion, if you will. When I moved here to Italy, what I immediately encountered and what I noticed is how people talk, how people dress, how they eat. There's a lot of art, and design, and fashion here in Milan, and great restaurants of course. So this is the visible layer of culture. The cultural artifacts that you immediately encounter when you are in a culture. Especially you'll notice of course if you're not familiar with that culture. Now how do we interpret those artifacts? What do they mean? I could have been tempted to look at this through, you know, more traditional German lens. And said that, this is a complete waste of resources that people make and buy, all these frivolous luxury items and services. It is not useful, right? So, I'm being hard on my own culture here, but there is a tendency that we have to actually interpret other cultures, artifacts from other cultures, based on our own values and our own assumptions. And you want to avoid that, right? You want to actually understand a culture based on its own premises. So you want to understand values and the assumptions that have given rise to the artifacts you encounter. The Italian values that can help us understand those artifacts are these ideas of dolce vita, sweet life, a life well lived and the idea of bella figura. Both of this are really prevalent in any time society but there are espoused values that people are aware of and they can actually be critically discussed. So Italians at times very critically examine what the importance of these values really are, and whether they're useful for society. Now this is the second layer of culture. The question is where do those values come from? That brings us to the third level of culture and that is the hidden assumptions. It's difficult to articulate. That's why they are called hidden assumptions. Even members of a culture can't really articulate where that comes from. Now people have tried to do it. So there are accounts that try to account for where particular values come from. And a good argument can be made that there is a basic assumption in Italian society that to live happy and harmonious lives, people need creative expression. They need to live in the moment and enjoy life to some degree. That they need to have a pride in what they do and what they accomplish. And only then can they actually live in stable social relations and contribute towards a harmonious society and a prosperous society on the end. Ultimately, the third level right, the hidden assumptions get back at really fundamental assumptions about human nature, about what makes societies work. Okay, so that's the Onion Model. Right? We experience it from the outside in and we wanna make sure that we really dig deeper, understand the values and the assumptions, and cultures generate from the inside out. Right? From the hidden assumptions, how values are generated, how artifacts are generated. This is across all kinds of cultures. The other approach to making culture more manageable and easier to analyze is to find key differences that exist among cultures. And to then dichotomize cultures to highlight those differences. One of the first studies that established that intellectual school of thought if you like is by Edward Hall. And he identified as one dimension in which cultures really differ strongly is the degree to which context plays a role in interaction and communication. So, he identified low context cultures, where people assume that they have to really make explicit what they want to communicate, and explain what they mean. In high context cultures where people assume that a lot of the meaning is already inherent in a particular situation or in a relationship or even in a person, so they have to make things less explicit and have to explain less, all right? So a fundamental difference in how we interact with each other, that that hall highlighted and that really sparked a lot of research. And it provided the template for a lot of other studies that identified other dimensions of culture. The most famous and the most widely used study in that tradition of identifying cultural dimensions to classify cultures is Hofstede's study and his four dimensions, right? So he identified high and low power distance. High and low uncertainty avoidance, individualism and collectivism, femininity or masculinity in a culture as is important dimensions, right? So those four dimensions were the original ones, he later added short term and long term orientation, and indulgence or restraint as additional dimensions and these have been sparking a tremendous amount of research that use this dichotomization and have been used in teaching very, very broadly. And clearly, then others have followed and have identified additional dimensions. So Franz Trompenaars' identified six dimensions that are kind of slightly overlapping, but also add some really helpful new perspectives that can be illuminating as you try to understand culture. Then there has been the global value survey; the Schwartz value survey. And then there's been the Globe study, which has been interesting for leadership contexts, because it asks people specifically about leadership issues. And there is a very relatively novel one which is human dynamics framework. Now all of these are very documented online already. So there's a lot of good material out there. That explains those things in more detail. We put it in the notes, so, you know, knock yourself out, and really dig into the details of those frameworks. What I'm more interested in, though, is not the individual dimensions, but it is more the overall approach of classifying cultures that way. Because that is, if you think about it, already a culturally very particular way of dealing with culture. And what I'm interested in exploring in this session is what that actually does to how we encounter, how we engage with other cultures, if we have those dimensions in our mind. What other ways can we find to actually make sense of cultures that we interact with? That are more helpful maybe. And how can we develop ultimately a sense of cultural intelligence that really gives us a solid, a comprehensive understanding of the cultures that we're interacting with?