The Commisceo Global Blog - Perfect for Culture Vultures

Whether a press release, a case study of cultural difference, some tips on working abroad or some lessons in cross-communication, we try our best to satiate your inner culture vulture.

An Introduction to Management Training Course

An Introduction to Management Training Course
Leadership may sound a lot more exciting and glamorous than management.  However, what do you think it takes to implement all the innovative ideas and ensure that visions will actually turn into reality? ...Exactly. This will not be achieved without having an effective management strategy in place. 
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Time Management Training: Skills and Techniques

Time Management Training: Skills and Techniques
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by your workload and have no idea where to start and how to get organized? Does the term procrastination sound familiar to you? Can you relate to internal battles with work/life balance? You are not alone.
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HealthForumOnline Adds Cultural Competency to their Online Education

HealthForumOnline (HFO), a nationally-approved (APA, ASWB, NBCC, PSNA, CA-BBS) provider of online continuing education (CE) for psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other allied healthcare professionals announces the addition of a new online CE course for health professionals working with children and their families, Cultural Competency in Pediatric Psychology: Issues & Clinical Applications to their extensive online continuing education library.

This addition to HFO's online CE course selection is important as psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other allied health care professionals in the U.S. have had a growing awareness of a shift in the demographic characteristics of their pediatric patients and their families over the last decade. Among them, is a marked change indicating a growing trend towards a more multi-ethnic society. However, despite this demographic shift, evidence suggests that Americans still do not equally share in the hope for recovery from mental illness despite the availability of effective and well-documented treatments.

Although a decade has passed since the U.S. Surgeon General first asserted that culture counts in mental health research and treatment, little has been done to address cultural variables in any way. One review of the research literature reported that only 11% of American samples included minority participants (i.e., African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics), only18% reported the SES of participants, and only 6% discussed potential moderating cultural variables such as a specific ethnic-related variable. Moreover, the existing literature typically focuses on adults, further limiting our ability to offer theory- and evidence-based interventions that are culturally sensitive to an entire population base - children and their families. Not surprisingly, U.S. minorities, particularly children, continue to face obstacles to accessing mental health care, including barriers related to language, geography and cultural familiarity, resulting in culturally-based disparities in the quality of care received and mental health outcome.

Read more > HFO
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HealthForumOnline Adds Cultural Competency to their Online Education

HealthForumOnline (HFO), a nationally-approved (APA, ASWB, NBCC, PSNA, CA-BBS) provider of online continuing education (CE) for psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other allied healthcare professionals announces the addition of a new online CE course for health professionals working with children and their families, Cultural Competency in Pediatric Psychology: Issues & Clinical Applications to their extensive online continuing education library.

This addition to HFO's online CE course selection is important as psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses and other allied health care professionals in the U.S. have had a growing awareness of a shift in the demographic characteristics of their pediatric patients and their families over the last decade. Among them, is a marked change indicating a growing trend towards a more multi-ethnic society. However, despite this demographic shift, evidence suggests that Americans still do not equally share in the hope for recovery from mental illness despite the availability of effective and well-documented treatments.

Although a decade has passed since the U.S. Surgeon General first asserted that culture counts in mental health research and treatment, little has been done to address cultural variables in any way. One review of the research literature reported that only 11% of American samples included minority participants (i.e., African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics), only18% reported the SES of participants, and only 6% discussed potential moderating cultural variables such as a specific ethnic-related variable. Moreover, the existing literature typically focuses on adults, further limiting our ability to offer theory- and evidence-based interventions that are culturally sensitive to an entire population base - children and their families. Not surprisingly, U.S. minorities, particularly children, continue to face obstacles to accessing mental health care, including barriers related to language, geography and cultural familiarity, resulting in culturally-based disparities in the quality of care received and mental health outcome.

Read more > HFO
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Faces and Cultural Differences



A new study suggests that people from different cultures read facial expressions differently.

East Asian participants in the study focused mostly on the eyes, but those from the West scanned the whole face.

In the research carried out by a team from Glasgow University, East Asian observers found it more difficult to distinguish some facial expressions.

The work published in Current Biology journal challenges the idea facial expressions are universally understood.

In the study, East Asians were more likely than Westerners to read the expression for "fear" as "surprise", and "disgust" as "anger".

The researchers say the confusion arises because people from different cultural groups observe different parts of the face when interpreting expression.

East Asian participants tended to focus on the eyes of the other person, while Western subjects took in the whole face, including the eyes and the mouth.

Read more > Global Faces
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Employment and Cultural Diversity

Recent surveys of employers consistently show that what they look for in job candidates - and seldom find - are strong communication skills. As the work force increasingly diversifies and organizations become global in scale, employers are setting the bar higher, favoring candidates who can communicate sensitively and efficiently across cultural divides.

Multicultural awareness is a "critical success factor" in today's job market, says B. K. Simerson of Tradewinds Consulting, a St. Charles, Ill.-based firm that helps organizations develop leaders and cope with change.

"We are now a global workforce. If you are entering an organization, unless it's extremely small, you're going to be interacting with individuals from different cultural backgrounds," he says. These differences occur among co-workers and clients and in supply chains and distribution channels, he adds.

Understanding cultural differences and being able to communicate with people of different races, ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds is so crucial to the success of organizations that it won't be long before such will be the norm among job applicants and an expectation among employers, says Kristina Leonardi, adjunct instructor, NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, New York.

Read more > Philly.com
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Cultural competence key to future work



With all the talk of layoffs and company closings, it’s easy to forget that most work-force-ready Americans are not unemployed, however tenuous their jobs may seem. After all, the corollary to a 7 percent or 8 percent unemployment rate would have to be an employment rate in the 90s. That’s a lot of people who would like to keep their jobs, and Mary Beth Lamb, a Minneapolis-based consultant, believes she knows how they can do it. In two words: cultural competence.

Or global competence, if you prefer. Lamb, who has worked on five continents, says the key to future employment lies in developing a global mind-set. “We need to recognize that people from different cultures think differently,” she said. “There is a diversity of thought, language, style, behavior. Awareness is really the first step, and then acceptance and skill building are next” in the process of building such a mind-set.

Why should anyone go to this trouble when the United States has been the dominant force in business worldwide? The obvious answer is that dominance is not guaranteed; some would say that it is already waning. On the other hand, even a scenario where the United States maintains its leadership places us squarely in the world marketplace, where the need for cultural competence seems only to grow.

Read more > AMY LINDGREN

What is Cultural Competence?

As a company involved in cultural awareness training, we are often asked for a definition of intercultural competence. In short, there is no one answer that can be given to this question. Intercultural competence is a term that can be applied by many different people for many different reasons. As a result the definitions change depending on the angle at which people are looking at it from.

In essence intercultural competence can be summed up as the ability to work well across cultures. Yet, many will not agree with such a simple definition. As a way of presenting all the different opinions on the matter, we scoured some sources to see how others define intercultural competence. Here are the results:

>> "..the overall capability of an individual to manage key challenging features of intercultural communication: namely, cultural differences and unfamiliarity, inter-group dynamics, and the tensions and conflicts that can accompany this process."

by staff at Universität des Saarlandes

>> Intercultural competence ".means that a student understands a variety of significant cultural experiences and/or achievements of individuals who are identified by ethnicity, race, religion, gender, physical/mental disability, or sexual orientation; the cultural history of various social groups within a society; the interrelations between dominant and non-dominant cultures, either in the United States or elsewhere, and the dynamics of difference."

By Penn State

>> "A simple definition, however, might be: the abilities to perform effectively and appropriately with members of another language-culture background on their terms."

By Alvino E. Fantini, Ph.D., School for International Training, Brattleboro, Vermont

...
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Intercultural Skills are Crucial say HR Leaders



According to a survey of more than 100 senior human resource managers, 81 percent of companies agree that international work experience is a crucial criterion for leadership in a global organization.

The survey, "The Importance of Cultural Skills in Senior Managers," conducted by RW-3 LLC, an online intercultural training organization, and ORC Worldwide, a global human resource consulting firm, was designed to measure the importance of cultural competencies and global experience as criteria for senior management.

"During the current liquidity crisis, we've seen yet again how the global economy is entirely interconnected and how international cooperation is critical for the world's economic well being," said Michael S. Schell, president of RW-3. "Understanding and appreciating how things get done in countries around the world is crucial for success. That means gaining an appreciation and understanding of culture. This survey reinforces how important the global HR community believes those intercultural skills are for their leadership."

Read more >> HR Leaders

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TV Series on Exploring Cultural Heritage

PLANNING TO EXPLORE YOUR FAMILY ROOTS?

Ricochet TV are looking for families who are either planning, or would like the opportunity to plan, amazing journey of discovery back to their parents’ country of origin for a new TV series.

If you would like to take a trip to get back in touch with your cultural heritage, then give us a call on 01273 224800 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Managing Asian Cultural Diversity: Cross-cultural Issues in Asia

Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Managing Asian Cultural Diversity: Cross-cultural Issues in Asia" report to their offering.

Managing Asian cultural diversity can be very complex for Western companies. Each country has its own culture, history, ideology, language and philosophy: a strategy in Taiwan may not work in China, and vice versa. Understanding the local mentality, beliefs, and even linguistic traits can make a world of difference in managing Asian employees effectively. Please attend our April 8, 2008 webcast on Asian Cross-Cultural Issues. This 90-minute session will include a 60-minute presentation, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A.
The following topics are covered in this webcast:

-Diversity of Asian Cultures
-Erroneous Assumptions about Asian Cultures
-Comparison of Key Asian Cultural Concepts
-Cultural Impact on Asian Management Issues
-Common Challenges in Managing Asian Diversity
-Strategies for Effective Asian Management
-Benchmarking Practices for Global Effectiveness

For more information visit Research Markets
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Cultural diversity training can help tackle healthcare inequalities


cultural diversity


Healthcare inequalities may partly be due healthcare professionals'
ignorance of ethnic minority healthcare needs, according to an article in the latest edition of Clinical Medicine, published by the Royal College of Physicians. Cultural diversity programmes have been shown to improve patient outcomes, yet the research for this article found that the training of all major UK healthcare professionals in cultural diversity is inadequate.

Authors Paul Bentley, Ana Jovanovic and Pankaj Sharma revealed a wide variation in teaching practices between healthcare professions and geographic regions. Effective cultural competency training would help to make sure medical education meets the goal of improving healthcare for the whole population and tackle healthcare inequality. The authors call on UK regulatory healthcare bodies to consider cultural competency to be a requirement for all healthcare professional trainees.

Read more > Training
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Young Expats - what is being done?


Michele Bar-Pereg investigates ways in which global mobility professionals can assist this group in making their assignments successful.

Transferees on their first assignments abroad— especially young, single expatriates—often are unaware of some of the more challenging effects of life without a support network of friends, family, and colleagues.


I have discovered a general feeling among global mobility professionals that, back in the 1980s and even 1990s, ambitious executives clearly did not discuss or influence their career prospects by talking about the separation of work and personal life. It was a far more macho society, where ambition was all that seemed to matter. Today, most singles on the global mobility career path have a far more balanced view of the segregation of work and personal life.


Single transferees often assume that they have a trouble-free paradise in front of them. They not only have their youth, but they are on the first step of the career ladder—often without some of the physical and emotional baggage of their counterparts—and appear to be able to function without the network of home, family, and other social associations.


On the surface, it sometimes appears that it is relatively easy for young people to recognise country cultures and deal with life accordingly. Younger people seem to be able to capitalise on similarities without being too bothered by the differences. This is, of course, to the good; however, our younger transferees often are caught off-guard when cultural differences emerge and suddenly get in the way of doing business.

Read more > Expatica

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Tricky feats of cross-cultural communication


A true story: when a US telecoms giant decided to replace its manager in Thailand several years ago, it chose an ABC - American-born Chinese - in the belief he would be more culturally attuned to doing business in Asia.

He was not shy about telling his colleagues how to behave and one evening berated a couple of European rivals who had been caught engaged in financial shenanigans.

They decided to play a joke on the new arrival. They told their driver to follow him and tell him he was going to be killed. A crude jest, but the young manager was panicked into ringing his head office saying his life was in danger.

The head office told him to stay calm, stick to the business district and take precautions.

What they did not tell him was that they had hired a security firm that uses ex-CIA agents - at some considerable cost - to watch his back.

When the security outfit made its report to the conglomerate a week or so later, it turned out the first-time-in-Asia manager was doing lots of cultural homework - spending every night in at least one bordello. His career wilted.

The conglomerate had made a mistake. The manager may have been competent, but - appearances notwithstanding - showed no special talent or experience for operating in Asia.

Read more > FT.com

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Cross-cultural competence

Cross-cultural competence (3C), another term for inter-cultural competence, has generated its own share of contradictory and confusing definitions, due to the wide variety of academic approaches and professional fields attempting to achieve it for their own ends. One author identified no fewer than eleven different terms with some equivalence to 3C: cultural savvy, astuteness, appreciation, literacy or fluency, adaptability, terrain, expertise, competency, awareness, intelligence, and understanding (Selmeski, 2007).

Organizations from fields as diverse as business, health care, government security and developmental aid agencies, academia, and non-governmental organizations have all sought to leverage 3C in one guise or another, often with poor results due to a lack of rigorous study of the phenomenon and reliance on “common sense” approaches based on the culture developing the 3C models in the first place (Selmeski, 2007).

The U.S. Army Research Institute, which is currently engaged in a study of the phenomenon, defines 3C as: “A set of cognitive, behavioral, and affective/motivational components that enable individuals to adapt effectively in intercultural environments” (Abbe et al., 2007). Cross-cultural competence does not operate in a vacuum, however. One theoretical construct posits that 3C, language proficiency, and regional knowledge are distinct skills that are inextricably linked, but to varying degrees depending on the context in which they are employed. In educational settings, Bloom’s affective and cognitive taxonomies (Bloom, 1956; Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1973) serve as an effective framework to describe the overlap area between the three disciplines: at the receiving and knowledge levels 3C can operate with near independence from language proficiency or regional knowledge, but as one approaches the internalizing and evaluation levels the required overlap area approaches totality.

Read more > Multi-National Multi-Cultural Collaboration 
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Medical staff require training on intercultural awareness

Medical staff require professional interpreters and specific training on intercultural awareness, a new study published in the open access journal BMC Health Services Research suggests. The authors reveal that doctors are dissatisfied with the treatment they provide to their non-native patients, and that they cite cultural differences and language barriers as the key factors causing the disappointment with the level of care that they provide.

Birgit Babitsch from the Berlin Institute of Gender in Medicine in Germany, and co-workers from Berlin and the UK, gathered the results of questionnaires completed by doctors working in the internal medicine and gynaecology departments of three Berlin hospitals. The responses were then narrowed down to those relating to native Germans and those of Turkish origin and analysed in conjunction with the patients’ medical records. Over 2400 doctor questionnaires and corresponding patient records were finally analyzed.

The researchers found that doctors’ dissatisfaction with the patient-doctor relationship was much greater with regard to their Turkish patients. The two main reasons given were communication difficulties and the doctors’ perceptions that the Turkish patients did not always require urgent treatment. Around 20% of doctors were dissatisfied with the course of treatment for Turkish patients, compared to 10% for German patients. Minor differences were found in doctors’ satisfaction with regard to the patient’s gender.

Dr Babitsch states: “The use of professional interpreters for improved communication and the training of medical staff for improved intercultural competence are essential for the provision of adequate health care in a multicultural setting.”

Read more > EurekAlert
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Intercultural Cities Conference 1-3 May 2008 Liverpool


An official UK event for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008


intercultural cities

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The impact of expats in 2008

Companies are aware that knowledge workers are key to the success of the Dutch economy and, focusing on this growing community, a new congress 'The Impact of Expats' aims to cover everything which companies in the Netherlands bringing knowledge workers into the country need to know.

expat cultural training


ZuidasThe success of the Dutch economy is knowledge-based and Dutch business and industry know only too well that it is the presence of highly skilled workers in a city which increases its capacity for innovation and makes it attractive for new business.

Amsterdam, with its highly rated quality of life, cultural diversity and lively reputation is becoming increasingly popular with skilled internationals seeking to develop their careers abroad.

Read more> Expatica
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Expatriate cultural coaching improves performance

High Expectations

Most people believe that international assignments are easy and "first-time" expatriates always start off with an excited and optimistic attitude. On the receiving end in the host foreign company, the managers and other employees have high expectations for the newcomers who bring new skills and insights. Although most of these employees have never been on an international assignment, they usually expect an expatriate to immediately perform as valuable experts. They anticipate that these new arrivals will adjust, make decisions rapidly and maneuver across cultures with ease. Most simply expect the expat to get to work immediately and to perform better than others.

 

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2008 top 10 trends in business training

What are the top ten trends in training and human resource development that are expected to dominate in 2008?

cultural diversity training

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Language and Culture are issues for midwives

The UK's population is growing. Part of that increase is fuelled by women from other countries having children here.

And as the Local Government Association (LGA), representing 400 councils in England and Wales, outlines to a House of Lords select committee how migration stretches community services, one midwife tells how the changes affect her.

language and culture in the uk


For midwife Jayne Cozens, going to work these days is also becoming something of a geography lesson.

She has worked in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, for 12 years, and her caseloads are containing increasing numbers of foreign nationals from across the globe.

Language and culture are becoming more of an issue, as Mrs Cozens' job becomes ever more multi-cultural and multi-lingual.

"It can be a challenge explaining to a 17-year-old English girl what an amniocentesis is, let alone to a teenager from abroad who doesn't speak the language," she says.

There are cultural issues, too, which midwives must handle in the course of giving their advice to non-UK nationals.

"Chinese families tend to sleep together in the same room and the same bed.

"Children, new baby, mum and dad are all together. It's what they're used to, so you go to a house and there's a couple of mattresses on the floor.

"But our advice in relation to cot death is for women to not sleep with their babies, so if you have the whole family in together then that presents a problem."

Mrs Cozens said that in the course of her work "you do learn a few words" but that this is not enough to clearly explain the full message.

Read more> Language & Culture
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