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Managing Across Cultures: START

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This project means using stereotypes, and while stereotypes can convey useful information for people trying to get used to a new place you need to understand that these are a shorthand, and limits to this shorthand should be acknowledged.

  • One person cannot speak for an entire country or culture
  • Pick a city or town in a state/province where the office is to be located and that will make your life a lot simpler.
  • While there is often overlap, not all experts on a country or culture are from that background and not all people with background in a country or culture will be experts
  • Growing up somewhere and working somewhere are different experiences
  • Assume nothing
  • The vast majority of countries are multicultural and have significant minority populations that may do things differently than the majority population
  • Up to date demographic data based on ethnicity or religion may not be available for countries with history of genocide
  • Take into consideration the urban and rural divide
  • Most people will insist that their local culture is different and it is the most unique and special of all cultures and that they do not share similarity with other places, especially if there are rivalries. Take this into consideration and look for tangible differences such as language, laws, policies, and demographics.
  • Some people will claim that they have no culture. In my experience, this means that they are from a dominant culture that is well represented and they assume that their norms are the universal human experience.
  • People are very sensitive of how their target audience will perceive them and this will impact the information available to you. Think about who the audience of the source is and what their cultural norms are as well.


Examples of places that are notably distinct from the rest of the country:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Montreal, Canada
  • Puerto Rico, United States of America
  • Kaliningrad Oblast, Russian Federation
  • Macau, People’s Republic of China

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