Dr. Nigel J. Holden, author of “Cross-Cultural Management: A Knowledge Management Perspective” (Financial Times Management, 2001), spoke recently with Jeffrey Gale and Charles M. Vance, both of Loyola Marymount University. The authors, who published “Cross-Cultural Knowledge Sharing for Competitive Advantage: An Interview With Nigel J. Holden” in the latest issue of the Journal of Management Inquiry, summarized Dr. Holden’s expert insights on cross-cultural management and knowledge management:
Calling for a move beyond what he characterizes as a superficial approach for developing a global perspective in Western business education, he focuses on the “art” of cocreating a common cognitive and emotional ground to facilitate sharing of knowledge between individuals and in networks with different cultures in different contexts.
The popular but quite superficial approach for developing a global perspective that dominates business education in the West (and therefore unfortunately the widespread executive and management development programs that are closer to actual practice) believes that “cultural intelligence” is the Holy Grail. But this very linear, recipe-oriented, widely held view has missed the point. It’s not about getting yourself accepted by counterparts in foreign business environments. It really has to do with the art—the art, note—of cocreating with those counterparts in context-specific ways common cognitive and emotional ground to facilitate sharing of knowledge, elements of behavior, and even modes of life. You cannot teach this vital art with the Hofstede, Trompenaars, or GLOBE schemes, which are mightily responsible for ensuring that entire countries become abstractions, and their inhabitants stereotypes.
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