Cross-Culture Communication

Since we’re living in a multi-cultured country, it is good to know what differences we are facing when communicating with people with different backgrounds. I actually would like to do more research about local cultures in Indonesia, but haven’t got a chance to do it. At the time being, let’s read about international issues. Adopted from wiki. Really interesting, though.

Following are further descriptions of the distinctive aspects of each of the 15 cultural groups videotaped. Certainly, conclusions of statistical significant differences between individual cultures cannot be drawn without larger sample sizes. But, the suggested cultural differences are worthwhile to consider briefly.

Japan. Consistent with most descriptions of Japanese negotiation behavior, the results of this analysis suggest their style of interaction is among the least aggressive (or most polite). Threats, commands, and warnings appear to be de-emphasized in favor of the more positive promises, recommendations, and commitments. Particularly indicative of their polite conversational style was their infrequent use of no and you and facial gazing, as well as more frequent silent periods.

Korea. Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the analysis is the contrast of the Asian styles of negotiations. Non-Asians often generalize about the Orient; the findings demonstrate, however, that this is a mistake. Korean negotiators used considerably more punishments and commands than did the Japanese. Koreans used the word no and interrupted more than three times as frequently as the Japanese. Moreover, no silent periods occurred between Korean negotiators.

China (Northern). The behaviors of the negotiators from Northern China (i.e., in and around Tianjin) were most remarkable in the emphasis on asking questions (34 percent). Indeed, 70 percent of the statements made by the Chinese negotiators were classified as information-exchange tactics. Other aspects of their behavior were quite similar to the Japanese, particularly the use of no and you and silent periods.

Taiwan. The behavior of the businesspeople in Taiwan was quite different from that in China and Japan but similar to that in Korea. The Chinese on Taiwan were exceptional in the time of facial gazing—on the average, almost 20 of 30 minutes. They asked fewer questions and provided more information (self-disclosures) than did any of the other Asian groups.

Russia. The Russians’ style was quite different from that of any other European group, and, indeed, was quite similar in many respects to the style of the Japanese. They used noand you infrequently and used the most silent periods of any group. Only the Japanese did less facial gazing, and only the Chinese asked a greater percentage of questions.

Israel. The behaviors of the Israeli negotiators were distinctive in three respects. As mentioned above, they used the lowest percentage of self-disclosures, apparently holding their cards relatively closely. Alternatively, they used by far the highest percentages of promises and recommendations, using these persuasive strategies unusually heavily. They were also at the end of the scale on the percentage of normative appeals at 5 percent with the most frequent reference to competitors’ offers. Perhaps most importantly the Israeli negotiators interrupted one another much more frequently than negotiators from any other group. Indeed, this important nonverbal behavior is most likely to blame for the “pushy” stereotype often used by Americans to describe their Israeli negotiation partners.

Germany. The behaviors of the Germans are difficult to characterize because they fell toward the center of almost all the continua. However, the Germans were exceptional in the high percentage of self-disclosures (47 percent) and the low percentage of questions (11 percent).

United Kingdom. The behaviors of the British negotiators were remarkably similar to those of the Americans in all respects. British people believe that most British negotiators have a strong sense of the right way to negotiate and the wrong. Protocol is of great importance. However, the “right way to negotiate” may be a completely different concept for people from different cultures. Some cultures may consider the British negotiation style as extremely cold and arrogant.

Spain. Diga is perhaps a good metaphor for the Spanish approach to negotiations evinced in our data. When you make a phone call in Madrid, the usual greeting on the other end is not hola (“hello”) but is, instead, diga (“speak”). It is not surprising, then, that the Spaniards in the videotaped negotiations likewise used the highest percentage of commands (17 percent) of any of the groups and gave comparatively little information (self-disclosures, only 34 percent). Moreover, they interrupted one another more frequently than any other group, and they used the terms no and you very frequently.

France. The style of the French negotiators was perhaps the most aggressive of all the groups. In particular, they used the highest percentage of threats and warnings (together, 8 percent). They also used interruptions, facial gazing, and no and you very frequently compared with the other groups, and one of the French negotiators touched his partner on the arm during the simulation.

Brazil. The Brazilian businesspeople, like the French and Spanish, were quite aggressive. They used the second-highest percentage of commands of all the groups. On average, the Brazilians said the word no 42 times, you 90 times, and touched one another on the arm about 5 times during 30 minutes of negotiation. Facial gazing was also high.

Mexico. The patterns of Mexican behavior in our negotiations are good reminders of the dangers of regional or language-group generalizations. Both verbal and nonverbal behaviors were quite different than those of their Latin American (Brazilian) or continental (Spanish) cousins. Indeed, Mexicans answer the telephone with the much less demanding bueno(short for “good day”). In many respects, the Mexican behavior was very similar to that of the negotiators from the United States.

French-Speaking Canada. The French-speaking Canadians behaved quite similarly to their continental cousins. Like the negotiators from France, they too used high percentages of threats and warnings, and even more interruptions and eye contact. Such an aggressive interaction style would not mix well with some of the more low-key styles of some of the Asian groups or with English speakers, including English-speaking Canadians.

English-Speaking Canada. The Canadians who speak English as their first language used the lowest percentage of aggressive persuasive tactics (threats, warnings, and punishments totaled only 1 percent) of all 15 groups. Perhaps, as communications researchers suggest, such stylistic differences are the seeds of interethnic discord as witnessed in Canada over the years. With respect to international negotiations, the English-speaking Canadians used noticeably more interruptions and no’s than negotiators from either of Canada’s major trading partners, the United States and Japan.

United States. Like the Germans and the British, the Americans fell in the middle of most continua. They did interrupt one another less frequently than all the others, but that was their sole distinction.

These differences across the cultures are quite complex, and this material by itself should not be used to predict the behaviors of foreign counterparts. Instead, great care should be taken with respect to the aforementioned dangers of stereotypes. The key here is to be aware of these kinds of differences so that the Japanese silence, the Brazilian “no, no, no…,” or the French threat are not misinterpreted.

In addition to the 15 cultures which have been discussed; below is an excerpt on negotiation approaches within the Mediterranean.

“The Mediterranean culture is altogether warmer.

Warm greetings and social aspects. Exuberant uses of postures and gestures. difficulty in pinning discussions down to particular deals or particular phases of negotiation.

In some regions, deals need to be ‘lubricated’. Indeed, this question of ‘lubrication’ is central to the cultures of some Mediterranean countries. It is seen as a normal practice and does not have the repulsive character of ‘bribery’.

The approach to negotiation in these cultures needs to retain the types of discipline we have been discussing; and yet to be conscious of the need for lubrication. Since no respectable western company would wish to be associated with the practice of bribery, the need is to secure a local agency and to ensure that that agency handles the lubrication.”


Daily Life Innovative Invention

And the winner is… CALCULATOR!

Bayangkan hidup kita tanpa KALKULATOR! Semua orang yang berdagang di pasar baru harus membuat kotret-an setiap kali bertransaksi. Dan si pembeli juga harus membuat kotret-an sendiri agar tidak ditipu pedagangnya. Kalau belanjanya sedikit sih, tak masalah. Tapi kalau belanja keperluan lebaran, misalnya. Repot banget tuh kalo harus menjumlahkan puluhan item belanjaan di atas kertas dengan sebatang pensil.

Saya rasa kita akan hidup dengan cara yang berbeda apabila hingga 2010 belum diciptakan kalkulator berukuran kecil. Apabila ditelusuri, sejarah penciptaan kalkulator layak pakai belum terlalu lama, kok. Baru sekitar tahun 1970-an konsep “kalkulator untuk semua” tercetus. Sebelumnya, kalkulator merupakan barang mewah seharga 2-3 minggu gaji karyawan umum (menurut oom wiki). Era kalkulator mewah berakhir saat ditemukannya IC (integrated circuit). Buat yang belum tahu, IC ini berupa benda kecil hitam berkaki banyak yang menempel di setiap rangkaian elektronik. Benda ini menggantikan ratusan transistor sehingga menghemat biaya dan ukuran. Bayangkan, kalkulator transistor sebesar lemari bisa disulap menjadi sebesar kotak korek api, berkat IC.

Meski begitu, sejak dahulu, masing-masing peradaban punya caranya sendiri untuk menghitung cepat, tapi tentu saja tidak secepat kalkulator. Contohnya toko-toko di daerah pecinan, beberapa pedagangnya masih menggunakan sempoa untuk menghitung. Bangsa Roma dan Babilonia juga punya metode perhitungan sendiri.

Kalkulator modern sendiri secara garis besar terbagi menjadi 2. Scientific kalkulator, dan kalkulator tukang daging. Pemakaiannya tergantung kebutuhan. Dilihat dari namanya saja, kalau kalkulator scientific, digunakkan untuk melakukan penghitungan rumit seperti pythagoras, integral, dsb. Kalau kalkulator tukang daging, hanya kali bagi tambah kurang yang simpel saja, biasanya memang dipakai pedagang.

Saking bergunanya inovasi kalkulator, maka ini menjadi fitur standar di setiap handphone dan iPod. Karena tiap orang suatu saat pasti menggunakannya sekali waktu. Untuk mempermudah akses, kalkulator juga dibuat menjadi tempat pensil, jam tangan, gantungan kunci, penggaris, bahkan anting.

Open Innovation: Where R&D is Just a Tiny Spec

The R&D concept as a department in a company seems to be working well. In the theory. In a matter of  fact, in the world where ideas and knowledge are widely spread, the R&D department seems to be a tiny spec compared to what’s “the externals” is capable of. Forinstance, take a look at Google, who bought facebook.

Facebook, was not Google’s idea. Google might even have any idea of social networking until Friendster, myspace, and facebook appears. But looking at the opportunity, Google took the idea and implement it (by buying it) into its IT empires. The benefits of this acquisition is even bigger compared to the benefits generated by facebook itself, or google without facebook. And the founder, Zuckerberg, becomes an “accidental billionaire”. This is one of the examples of “Leverage” created by open innovation.

Adobe, the well-known software manufacturer, did not come to their success by internal ideas only. They have the feature called “Ideaspace” for customers to freely write down their ideas of what should be repaired and developed. The background is, sometimes the customers know better than the producer. The concept seems to be very simple, taking customers feedback. But for that big scale of a company, implementing it might be very complicated. And Adobe successfully did it.

Open innovation which leads to open business model, which has been done by youtube and ebay. Although they look like a simple online movies and store, not so many people can generate that kind of idea and successfully run it. The biggest stakeholder is not themselves (Youtube and ebay) anymore. It’s the users that counts. On ebay, it’s the uploaders and viewers. The success of YouTube is up to them. On ebay, it’s the sellers and buyers. The existence of ebay is depending on their transactions. There are many copycats duplicating the ideas, but none of them come close to their success.

To sum up, open innovation and open business model is the modern way. If R&D is the theoretical concept, Open Innovation is the practical concept. It looks through the reality, to the bigger picture of ideas and knowledge generation. It completes the lack of ideas in internal department. However, this doesn’t mean that R&D is useless by now. An end product is successfully created by a collaboration of internal capabilities and external ideas. It took both to work. R&D and Open Innovation is a complimentary, not a substitute.