Non Fiction

The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

A book a bit different from what I’m used to reading but very interesting for anyone who likes international issues.

Themes: Business, cultural

The synopsis

Whether you work in a home office or abroad, business success in our ever more globalized and virtual world requires the skills to navigate through cultural differences and decode cultures foreign to your own. Renowned expert Erin Meyer is your guide through this subtle, sometimes treacherous terrain where people from starkly different backgrounds are expected to work harmoniously together.

When you have Americans who precede anything negative with three nice comments; French, Dutch, Israelis, and Germans who get straight to the point (“your presentation was simply awful”); Latin Americans and Asians who are steeped in hierarchy; Scandinavians who think the best boss is just one of the crowd—the result can be, well, sometimes interesting, even funny, but often disastrous.

Even with English as a global language, it’s easy to fall into cultural traps that endanger careers and sink deals when, say, a Brazilian manager tries to fathom how his Chinese suppliers really get things done, or an American team leader tries to get a handle on the intra-team dynamics between his Russian and Indian team members.

In The Culture Map, Erin Meyer provides a field-tested model for decoding how cultural differences impact international business. She combines a smart analytical framework with practical, actionable advice for succeeding in a global world.

The review

I’m very interested in all subjects linked to culture and/or having an international dimension. This book kept being recommended to me and is one of the classics on the subject of cultural differences when you are a beginner on this subject.

Meyer provides a complete overview of the existing theories while bringing her own thoughts and experiences. The reader can have a clear vision of what is being discussed thanks to several maps and graphs but also thanks to the use of various concrete examples and testimonies. While reading this book, you realise that working with people from different cultures is not as easy as it first seems to be, even when these cultures are considered as close to yours.

This book also has a very practical dimension by analysing real-life situations in order to draw some advice from them.

In brief: I found it very interesting to see the different mindsets people have according to their culture and how these mindsets are created from religion, norms, or history. If you expect to work with foreign people or to move in a foreign country, you’ll probably find some useful information and tools to understand the new culture(s) you’ll be confronted with.

My rating: 5/5

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