Working with people from different cultures can sometimes be confusing. Can you work out what's happening in these 7 short workplace scenarios from around the world?


There's no time limit. The pass mark is 85%. Good luck!


 

1. Jonathan Manning has been chosen to set up a branch of his engineering consulting firm in Seoul, South Korea.

Although the six engineering consultants that would eventually be transferred there were British, Jonathan is interested in hiring locals as support staff. He is particularly keen to hire an accountant. He is offering a great salary with excellent working conditions.

He gets some names put forward through contacts he has in Seoul. After meeting with them he is surprised to find all of them turn down his offer.

All preferred to stay with their current employers. Why?


Most Koreans stay with their first employer for the rest of their career out of a sense of loyalty.

Koreans consider it shameful to work for foreigners.

Jonathan should not have approached them directly but through a third party.

2. Jenny Rains had been assigned to the Paris office of her company.

As a graduate in French and someone with a lot of admiration for all things French she was very excited. Upon arriving at the new office Jenny was looking forward to meeting all his new colleagues and getting to know them.

While waiting for a meeting to begin she decided to initiate some conversation with another member of staff present, Mr Le Blanc.

She introduced herself as Madame Rains and went on to enquire as to whether Mr Le Blanc was married and had children.

Monsieur Le Blanc seemed distant and unapproachable. Why?


3. Jane and Diana had been working together as teachers in Istanbul, Turkey.

It was coming up to the end of their contracts and had decided they wanted to see a bit more of 'real Turkey'. As they got further into the countryside and away from Istanbul they started to feel hostility towards them.

On one occasion they stopped at a small coffee house in a village for some refreshments and found themselves the centre of attention. They felt shaken by the numerous stares. Jane and Diane could not understand the difference in attitude between people in Istanbul and those in the countryside.

Which would you say explains this best?


There was no hostility - in many parts of the world people tend to stare at something new or unusual. Istanbulis are a lot more cosmopolitan and are used to Western women.

Women are not allowed to leave the house in rural Turkey. That's why the locals were looking at them.

4. A U.S. golfing equipment manufacturer decided to explore the possibility of entering the Japanese market.

They have arranged a meeting with a major Japanese firm to discuss a joint venture. Three representatives of each firm meet up in San Francisco. Following the initial introductions the teams sat down at opposite sides of the table.

After offering their Japanese guests a drink the U.S. representatives proceeded to take off their jackets and roll up their sleeves and say 'lets get down to business'. The meeting was unsuccessful and the joint venture never took place.

What cultural faux pas did the Americans make?


The seating arrangements came across as distant to the Japanese who like to conduct business in a friendly atmosphere.

The U.S. business men should have also offered the Japanese the chance to take off their jackets.

The removal of jackets was seen as un-businesslike, inappropriate and in breach of professional conduct.

5. Nick Mills had worked hard to become the top sales representative of the IT company he worked for in the USA.

When the company received an invitation from an Argentinean firm to make a marketing presentation for them, Nick was chosen to go to Buenos Aires. Nick had set up an appointment to make his presentation the afternoon he arrived.

Upon arrival he was met by the host firm who told him the presentation was postponed for two days to give Nick a chance to rest and see the sites. Nick insisted he was fit and ready for the presentation and pressed to have it that afternoon.

Eventually it was put back to the original slot but Nick noticed that none of the executives at the meeting seemed interested. At the end of the meeting the Vice President suggested they all meet again in two days.

Why did Nick get this reaction?


Argentines are fiercely proud of their culture and heritage and saw Nick's lack of enthusiasm to take in the sights as an insult.

Nick's insistence that it take place that day was seen as over zealous - a trait considered undesirable.

Their initial offer to delay it two days was their way of allowing enough time to get to know Nick. As a virtual 'stranger' none of the executives felt the desire to engage with him.

6. George Tailor works as a supervisor for an engineering company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In the UK he had a reputation for speaking his mind and by doing so getting the best out of his staff. At the current project in Riyadh he supervises 12 British staff and nearly 50 Saudi staff.

After a few months George has become increasingly frustrated by what he sees a less than effective Saudi team. Their lack of competence and slow work pace is worrying George.

What should he do to try and bring the Saudi staff back into line?


7. Bob de Jonge and his Thai associate, Chaiwat Soonvichai, are walking into a meeting in Bangkok.

Chaiwat asks Bob casually, 'Do you have the latest marketing portfolio with you?' Bob stops in his tracks and slaps his forehead.

'Why on earth didn't you ask me that earlier? Now there's no time to go back and get it'. The two continue on and conduct a successful meeting yet a month later Chaiwat leaves the company.

What went wrong?


Chaiwat saw the slapping of the forehead as an insult to his intellect.

Chaiwat felt a great loss of face through Bob's reaction and felt compelled to leave.

 

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