September 7, 2013

National stereotypes of business meetings

Via Business Insider, here's a chart put together by a Brit named Richard Lewis for his bestselling business advice manual. 
I don't travel enough to have strong opinions on this.

65 comments:

San Franciscan non-monk said...

Denmark so far away from Sweden? Bogus.

Anonymous said...

Obama = MultiActive

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the "multi-active" category, as I haven't worked in that sort of environment or in the countries associated with that category, but I'd say the other categories are fairly accurate descriptions of the general business and professional cultures and behavioral norms in the countries.

Anonymous said...

Obama = MultiActive

I would think he'd be more like Canada or Singapore.

Anonymous said...

who be creactive?

dearieme said...

A French friend is fascinated by her experience of British business meetings - there are jokes, and subtle allusions she doesn't understand; but they start on time, have a proper agenda and result in decisions. She likes them.

Anonymous said...

Women in the workplace seem to run the gamut of multi-active to reactive, but rarely if ever are to be found in the linear-active zone.

Anonymous said...

This looks like a politically correct map to group the white, black and yellow races without being called a racist. Whats interesting is where certain groups like Indians (Asia) and Latin Americans land up, I bet that they are secretly not to happy to be positioned so close to the Sub Saharan group.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

Just another one of those things that, to paraphrase Steve Sailer, Strom Thurmond would have come up with given 15 minutes, some crayons and some blank paper.

Anonymous said...

http://www.toledoblade.com/Keith-Burris/2013/09/08/Confessions-of-a-post-racial-journalist.html

Anonymous said...

Attended an internationally diverse business school and it appears spot on. Although the Africans in our class were actually quite subdued and nowhere near as emotive as African-Americans.

Aaron Gross said...

I've been in business meetings in the US, England, and Israel. From my experience, the US and Israel look about right, but I'd put the UK a couple notches closer to Reactive.

Also, excuse the Linear remark, but isn't the whole triangle chart drawn wrong? Every point is a convex combination of exactly two vertices. I'd think you'd allow all convex combinations of all three vertices - in other words, the convex hull. That is, the points for the various cultures would be inside the triangle, indicating different mixtures of the three values.

panjoomby said...

business makes things up more than psychology even. then packages them as "real" - pssh.

slumber_j said...

I love what passes for thought.

kgaard said...

I meet with companies all over the world -- mostly investor relations departments. What I find is that the German/American way is pretty much the norm at this point. Yes the Asians tend to be subdued, but they don't have a problem with logically and directly saying what you are trying to say. The Brazilians and Mexicans who act like it's a Fellini movie aren't in business anymore. They were wiped out in one of the myriad crashes to befall those countries.

peterike said...

Here's an alternate version using straight talk instead of businessese.

Linear-active = logical, common-sense whites: Anglo, Germanic, Nordic

Multi-active = hot headed, emotionally erratic whites and browns: Latins, Mediterraneans, Eastern Euros, Arabs

Reactive = inscrutable, tribal, back-stabbing Orientals

Entirely Useless and Corrupt = all black nations (there are none on the business chart)

Anonymous said...

I've heard that German business culture is very different from the US. I was at one point pursuing a career on Wall St. One American bank had been acquired by a German or Swiss German bank. The presenters, who were all American, said that the Germans had made an effort to adapt to American business style. In Germany, for example, building consensus is of the utmost importance. In America, the decisionmaker doesn't have to get everyone to agree. Also, there's a sense of, "don't spend too much time worrying about a strategy, just pick on and focus on execution".

Whitehall said...

I've had business meeting experience with Swedes, Scots, Japanese, and Taiwanese (and Americans, of course.)

This model holds up pretty well against my memories. The meetings were all about detailed engineering so that might skew the impressions.

The Japanese especially wanted to go over the same topics again and again.

Anonymous said...

What in the hell is the multi-culti New America doing in the linear zone? Oh, this is about business. But business follows culture. Get ready for it.

a very knowing American said...

Lewis's categorization kind of / sort of makes sense. But, something suspicious about the chart is that EVERYBODY falls along the edges or corners. Nobody is just somewhere in the middle. If Lewis were crunching real data, rather than just making it up, I'd expect the chart to look different.

Anonymous said...

Steve, ot but have you seen afternoon delight? It is the most accurate portrayal of silver lake i have ever seen. The future leadership of los angeles is growing up in silver lake now so it is quite relevant

Anonymous said...

Do any non-English-speaking cultures (German-speaking?) have the equivalent of Robert's Rules of Order and routinely use them?

"... rules of order intended ... for use by a deliberative assembly. ...

The book is designed for use in ordinary societies... it is the most commonly adopted ... among societies in the United States. ...

... Being widely accepted, and being based for the most part on long-standing traditions ... "

Let's! said...

LOL at the most dysfunctional management style getting the most flattering name (Multi-Active)

David said...

Would be interesting to apply this chart to different parts of the USA.

I can peg the American Southeast as the worst. It combines the least productive qualities of Multi-Active and Reactive.

Mexico is a slightly better blend of Multi-Active and Reactive. It's more like halfway between Brazil and India. (Then again, I'm in D.F.)

hbd chick said...

ot - in the atlantic:

Republicans Can't Win With White Voters Alone

An influential set of conservatives argues changing demographics won't doom the GOP, but the smart money -- and the math -- are not on their side.

Neil Edmondson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hey Steve. You've written a lot on Larry Summers. What's your take on Obama possibly appointing him to head the Fed?

Anonymous said...

The Irish one makes sense, but I don't know how much of it is like reading horoscopes, where the reader fills in the blanks.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this conforms surprisingly well to HBD stereotypes.

Alfa 158 said...

Based on 30 years of international business experience, this is generally correct; you could only split hairs about the precise arrangement of the countries, and perhaps it might be more informative to have them drifting out in the space between the vertices.

Anonymous said...

"ot - in the atlantic:"

Why the hell are you posting this? The MSM has been publishing dozens of articles like this ever since November. How is this one any different?

I really don't like the tendency of commenters here to go off-topic and post random stuff that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

ironrailsironweights said...

Entirely Useless and Corrupt = all black nations (there are none on the business chart)

There's an entry for "sub-Saharan Africa."

Peter

Anonymous said...

Over the past year, I've worked with 20 countries so I've got a lot of opinions.

But the biggest quibble I have is with the category sub-Saharan African.

There's a huge difference between West Africans and the rest of black Africa. Especially Nigerians. Those guys made for the most memorable business meeting I've been in.

Socially Extinct said...

I like the idea but the chart should be a circle with the gradients enclosed in an infinite array of combinations.

And to limit this to business meetings is not fair. This embodies many of the cultural and racial differences I see every day on the job across the entire spectrum of humanity. Someone commented about the Japanese habit of repetition. Very true, there is an innate indecisiveness in that culture. The multi-active seems to describe the female worker above all.

Anonymous said...

"Those guys made for the most memorable business meeting I've been in."

esplane

Anonymous said...

Mexico is a slightly better blend of Multi-Active and Reactive. It's more like halfway between Brazil and India. (Then again, I'm in D.F.)

David,

From some of your comments here over the past few years, I gather you're living in Mexico. How the hell did you end up there? I ask because you're a long time commenter who's solidly right-wing, and half the time here we're talking about how bad Mexico is.

Anonymous said...

There's a huge difference between West Africans and the rest of black Africa. Especially Nigerians. Those guys made for the most memorable business meeting I've been in.

How so?

Unknown said...

I worked 15 years in Germany, and the description of "linear active" matches exactly the way they operated, inter-company or intra-company.

Anonymous said...

Unemotional reactive East Asians.

Chinese army soldiers defeated by city inspectors when resisting forced demolition of illegal watch tower
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=aee_1378659477#HBHwm4XdCVvcpiAm.99

elvisd said...



LOL at the most dysfunctional management style getting the most flattering name (Multi-Active)

It's kind of like the "kinesthetic learner" in the "Multiple Intelligences" Learning model.

There's a huge difference between West Africans and the rest of black Africa. Especially Nigerians. Those guys made for the most memorable business meeting I've been in.

Seriously, continue. I want to hear about it.

The Brazilians and Mexicans who act like it's a Fellini movie aren't in business anymore.

I always wondered about that stereotype.


I wonder how the Chinese ever get anything done? It's all about face and hierarchy and going with the flow there.


To hear a buddy of mine who was there a decade ago, it's about going through the motions of becoming part of the in-group. Once you've cleared that hurdle, everything runs smoothly, at a clip that would trigger most American's ethics alarm.

James Kabala said...

Interesting to see Canada fairly distant from the U.S. I seem to recall that quite a few Kids in the Hall sketches took place in business meetings. I couldn't find the one I remember best (in which we hear the inner monologue of a businessman giving a presentation who fears everyone will figure out he has no idea what he's talking about), but here are two other examples:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/174263

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJNsZgHCVKU

Anonymous said...

I think this scene from the film "In the Company of Men" starring Aaron Eckhart best exemplifies US business culture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbunznqJzxs

Mr. Anon said...

OT: Benjamin Jealous announced that he will be stepping down as President of the NAACP. I wonder who they will appoint as his successor? In keeping with the precedent that Jealous established, my money is on Dolf Lundgren.

Anonymous said...

This one doesn't really ring true to me. I'm having a hard time making sense of the three categories or figuring out which category anyone I know would fall into - it doesn't seem to line up at all with the standard Myers-Briggs types. (What the heck is the difference between "restrained body language" and "subtle body language," for example?)

Ulick McGee said...

Anonymous said...
Unemotional reactive East Asians.

Chinese army soldiers defeated by city inspectors when resisting forced demolition of illegal watch tower

The emotion they keep under control is bravery. Hardly a punch was thrown.

That is the norm for Chinese in my experience. They fight pointlessly. Refuse to follow well established rules when the rules are not in their favour and they feel they will get away with it. They hardly ever throw a direct punch though, as that carries consequences. 7 per cent bigger brain volume, 70 per cent smaller ball volume.

Business meetings and on the streets both same same.




Anonymous said...

This is without a doubt the worst article I have ever read on this site, which normally does a better job of filtering. Pseudo-scientific jargon - reads like a sociology paper written at a second tier university or Michelle Obama's college thesis. 65 years ago, no one would have called the Germans "linear active" - read Shirer's Berlin Diary. I wonder how they changed their nature so quickly?

David Davenport said...

I'm having a hard time making sense of the three categories or figuring out which category anyone I know would fall into - it doesn't seem to line up at all with the standard Myers-Briggs types.

Please cite some evidence for the validity of Myers-Briggs types.

David said...

>I gather you're living in Mexico. How the hell did you end up there?<

The only detail that might not bore everyone to tears is that there is no Mexican lover, Jewish relative, or drug connection involved. That's not very interesting either, come to think of it.

The funny thing about illegal immigration to the US is that it makes a seer out of Emma Lazarus - most of it, if not all, is "wretched refuse." The majority of good Mexicans either stay in Mexico or immigrate legally.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about illegal immigration to the US is that it makes a seer out of Emma Lazarus - most of it, if not all, is "wretched refuse." The majority of good Mexicans either stay in Mexico or immigrate legally.

Right, but people here are always saying how terrible Mexico is. And you're not exactly Tyler Cowen or anything, so it's strange that you'd end up there.

Anonymous said...

http://www.one-eternal-day.com/2009/12/call-me-bigot-if-you-like.html

It's Howdy Douthat time...

Rotfl.

Anonymous said...

So Taiwanese business meetings are nothing like their notoriously violent parliament?

I never understood how those parliamentary meetings of theirs would so frequently degenerate into violent free-for-alls. At least this doesn't appear to happen that much these days. It was like the Italy of Asia with how hotheaded their parliamentarians were.

as said...

The graph is not very useful.

Anonymous said...

I was going to mention that this looks suspiciously like Rushton's rule of three but someone already beat me to it.

Anonymous said...

This looks like a politically correct map to group the white, black and yellow races without being called a racist. Whats interesting is where certain groups like Indians (Asia) and Latin Americans land up, I bet that they are secretly not to happy to be positioned so close to the Sub Saharan group.

Yes, yes, and yes. I think Americans do a constant mistake of putting sub-Saharan black Africans near Indians and Latin Americans. It's a subtle insult in a strange way.

DR said...

> Denmark so far away from Sweden? Bogus.

Within Scandinavia the Danes are stereotyped as being party animals who are consistently late to work because they're hung over or slack off because they're not interested in putting in the elbow grease. Like the Southern Europe of Scandinavia. Swedes are known for being serious and uptight, prone to hierarchal organization.

pat said...

This sort of analysis is a property space. The most famous such was the division of the French Estates General. The seating arrangement was such that it just so happened that the conservatives were on the right and the radicals on the left. From that we have derived the political left-right property space that is assumed to underlie all political disputes.

But of course a infinite number of other spatial models are possible. Eysenck for example divided human personality into a two pole property space of introverts versus extroverts. This line could be crossed with an orthogonal dimension of intelligence yielding a property space that encompassed all humanity. Or so he said.

We have here a proposed typology with three poles. Ok, but why not four? Or would two be enough? Making up a property space is easy. Making up one that is useful is rare.

In order for me to bother with even considering these three types I would have to see some evidence. There are many hidden assumptions in this model. For example, the triangle is drawn as equilateral. Why not isosceles? Are the sides all equal length - implying that strength of the effects are linear and equipotent? Is there any evidence for this?

I'm afraid that this model is just an exercise in pop psychology aimed at the kind of people who are impressed with Malcolm Gladwell.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Based on comments here.

Quite few are emotional, not very polite, not stick to facts,

You are multi-acitive.

Anonymous said...

There are three central problems affecting Brazil in particular
bureaucracy
taxes
and
corrupt network of contacts

The bureaucracy and make business taxes on my land a game of luck and patience

A corrupt network of contacts completely eliminates meritocracy, making people much less competent to rise to positions of decision

There is a significant portion of micro entrepreneurs who resemble in competence and responsibility with their counterparts in rich countries, but we do not live in a civilized society, but in the purest law of the jungle.

Anonymous said...

A corrupt network of contacts completely eliminates meritocracy, making people much less competent to rise to positions of decision

What about just plain old "networking", which is deemed acceptable today but in reality is no different in operation from what's deemed "corrupt"?

Anonymous said...

I never understood how those parliamentary meetings of theirs would so frequently degenerate into violent free-for-alls.

Considering their more reserved nature and higher impulse control, I guess is that their politicians genuinely care more about the direction of their country...

gottlieb = this anonymus said...

''What about just plain old "networking", which is deemed acceptable today but in reality is no different in operation from what's deemed "corrupt"?''

Webs of contacts is not meritocratic. In fact, meritocracy would be a rigorous selection, direct and intrusive by government, people really able to work, but what happens here and there is that apart from some higher cognitive ability, people also need to know how to dance according to the order established .
From this conditioning, the few geniuses that remain are those that introduce the guidelines of socio-moral hierarchy, whereas others (the best category of geniuses) are thrown in the gutter or become the opposition, with high risk of reproductive failure .

But the government is predisposed to perform the meritocracy he also be willing to share their decision-making power with others.

David said...

>people here are always saying how terrible Mexico is<

I recommend Fred Reed on this.

Anonymous said...

David,

Was it for the donkey shows?

David said...

There are asses enough in every country, my friend.

Anonymous said...

David,

Yeah, but donkey shows are a Mexican specialty:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_show