Intercultural Studies

People who work in an intercultural environment often experience the following:

Suddenly there is some unforeseeable irritation in your contact with a foreign colleague. For instance, your cooperation partner, who is usually very friendly, either does not respond at all, in spite of several attempts to contact him, or he responds in an unusually harsh manner. During the cooperation of representatives of different cultures, this kind of critical incident takes place whenever the (mostly implicit) rules of behaviour of one or the other culture have been infringed because of ignorance. In these cases, the cultural code of conduct refers to work procedures, people's attitudes to time as well as people's behaviour within the group or as bosses or staff members.

The cultural „roles” prescribed to all of us for our daily lives are often subconscious and so delicately complex that even subtle body language signals (eye contact yes or no, distance to the person you are speaking to in centimetres etc.) play a role and can lead to infringements of the code of conduct. Major internationally operating companies are already investing large sums of money in intercultural training in order to make their staff members sensitive to the manner in which to deal with international cooperation partners. Otherwise, "cultural infringements of the code of conduct" can far too quickly turn into antipathy, which does not infrequently lead to a discontinuation of the contact. According to experts' estimates, every year over a third of all foreign acquisitions fail precisely because of that. And that's of course when things get really costly.

After the surveys on Russia, Hungary, Estonia and Slovakia (Harss & v. Schumann, 1995-1995), the TWIST Consulting Group continued this series in 2004 and conducted two further intercultural studies:

Our survey on the cooperation between Chinese and Germans

Who are the Chinese? How do they view us Germans and how do they rate a potential cooperation? Which reservations and differences in mentality need to be borne in mind when German investors and entrepreneurs wish to cooperate with their Chinese neighbours?

In 2004, the TWIST Consulting Group (Harss, Chen & Feng-Ley) questioned 40 Chinese employees, expatriates and managers about this issue and compared the results with a sample survey of 60 Germans. The study revealed some substantial and statistically highly significant differences which could provide helpful advice for your practical work.

For more information:
With the eyes of the partners” (ChinaContact, 7,2004).
The full-length version of this study is only available in German and can be ordered from contact@twist.de.

Our survey on the cooperation between British and Germans

In 2004, the TWIST Consulting Group (Nitsch, Ströhlein & Gramberg) also conducted a survey on the question of what British businesspeople have to say about their cooperation with Germans and vice versa. Our Eastern European neighbors did not paint a very positive picture of us Germans in the above-mentioned surveys of the last few years. Their main points of criticism: The Germans were pedantic, conducted modern colonialism in Eastern Europe and were permanently suffering from a "thirst for supremacy". Hence, we expected a similarly negative picture of the Germans from the 53 British businesspeople questioned (of which 22 worked in management).

Compared to that, the results of this study – to come to the most important points first – were very pleasing.

For more information:
„How well do Germans and British cooperate?” (Projekt Magazin, 24,2004).
The full-length version of this study is only available in German and can be ordered from contact@twist.de.