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Acquiring the Culture Edge
By Dr. Karine Schomer, President, CMCT

In the global economy and the multicultural IT world, it is good business strategy to acquire the "culture edge." Nowhere is this more evident than in the IT sector, where businesses must pursue all dimensions of competitive advantage if they are to avoid being left behind.

Companies that neglect cultural realities do so at significant peril. For today’s IT leaders and managers, whose peers and subordinates are likely to come from a wide variety of backgrounds, cultural knowledge is a critical as technical, industry and business knowledge.

South Asian and North American players in the IT world may be lulled into a sense of cultural familiarity due to a shared language (English), historical backgrounds commonly shaped by British-created institutions, and the dramatic success of many South Asians in the North American IT sector. They tend, therefore, to underplay the need for mutual orientation, they avoid singling out differences, and neglect development of expertise in multicultural management. The stories of what can go wrong are part of the folklore of the silicon world on both sides of the water.

Understanding is needed of the concrete issues as well as the underlying mental programming people bring as their cultural baggage, as well as commitment to developing, at all levels, a much greater degree of cross-cultural curiosity, knowledge, forbearance and skills.

The bad news is that these are not the skills usually stressed in the development of IT talent and business ventures. The good news is that these skills can be learned. To acquire the "culture edge," follow the following strategies:

  • Cultivate a synergistic organizational culture that stresses global and cross-cultural awareness.

  • Supply cross-cultural and global management training.

  • Offer cultural orientation and cross-cultural team skills development.

  • Encourage diversity-friendly HR policies.

  • Assess, on an ongoing basis, your multicultural workplace climate.

You will be amply repaid in reduced stress, smoother operations, employee commitment, less wasted effort and long-term business success in the new global economy.

© 1999 Karine Schomer. All Rights Reserved. Originally published in Siliconindia,1999.


For more information, contact CMCT, write to info@cmct.net, or call 510-525-9222.

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