In one of the People and Business Management workshops that I facilitate we ask participants to outline how they would approach their first meeting as the manager of a multicultural team. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the imagination and inclusiveness of the responses.
The United States and Canada maintain the world’s largest bilateral trading relationship, one that has been strengthened over the past two decades by the approval of two major free trade agreements.
Although commercial disputes may not be quite as prominent now as they have been in the past, the two countries in recent years have engaged in difficult negotiations over items in several trade sectors, including natural resources, agricultural commodities, and intellectual property rights. (…) However, these disputes affect but a small percentage of the total goods and services exchanged.
She might have three selves, but she also has two different styles. The French one, which loves these abstract ideas of freedom and the future. And the American one, with its management clichés of teamwork and listening. The two make an odd mixture.
Perhaps she herself is a miniature version of GE in France, which she says takes 20 per cent of its culture from the US and 80 per cent from France.
A trans-Atlantic culture clash at Alcatel-Lucent, the French-American telecommunications equipment maker created in a $10.7 billion merger two years ago, hit home when the company’s top two executives said they would step down.
Patricia F. Russo, the American chief executive, and Serge Tchuruk, the French chairman, said they would leave this year. The departures of the two executives, who engineered the original deal, follow months of pressure from shareholders upset over billions of dollars in losses since the companies combined.
Analysts were skeptical from the start about the acquisition of Lucent Technologies, based in Murray Hill, N.J., by Alcatel, based in Paris. Initial talks broke down in 2001, four years before a deal was announced, because executives at the two companies could not agree on how to share control. (…) “[I]f you take two guys with broken legs and tie a rope around them, they aren’t going to walk better,” Mr. Kerravala said.
The appointment of Ms. Russo, the former Lucent chief, as the leader of the combined company struck many as a recipe for misunderstandings. Ms. Russo does not speak French comfortably, and the language barrier is one of several cultural challenges that have troubled the company.
Roger Entner, a senior vice president and telecommunications analyst for Nielsen IAG, a market research firm, said that Lucent executives had also struggled to understand the close interplay between French bureaucrats and private-sector executives.
It maps online databases of the World Bank Group that support private sector-led growth and financial market development in developing countries. It features more than 20 maps that cover over 190 economies across issues like How easy it is to do business, How often firms are expected to bribe tax inspectors, and much more.
“Strategies that presume complete global integration tend to place far too much emphasis on international standardization and scalar expansion,” Ghemawat argues. While identifying similarities from one place to the next is essential, effective cross-border strategies will take careful stock of differences as well. (HBS Working Knowledge)
Many of the world’s national governments have been plagued by charges of corruption and pervasive malfeasance over the past few decades. As a result, a number of international organizations have been created to provide information on corruption and governance trends for the policy community and the general public.
With funding from the World Bank, the Global Integrity organization produces the Global Integrity Report, which features a number of “integrity indicators”, which analyze openness, governance, and anti-corruption mechanisms for a wide range of countries. Visitors to their site can read the Report in its entirety here, and also browse through a number of media resources designed for journalists. Additionally, visitors can also learn more about the organization’s staff members and their various methodologies for compiling reports. (Internet Scout report)
Nortel Networks, the large but troubled maker of communications equipment, said on Wednesday that it would eliminate more than 3,900 jobs in Europe and North America.
About 1,000 of those positions will be shifted to lower-cost operations in Mexico, China and India. Because Nortel is still hiring in sales and marketing, the total number of layoffs may be higher than the company’s estimate for the net result, a spokesman, Jay Barta, said. (…)
The announcement is the latest in a series of staff cuts dating back to 2001. At the end of last year, Nortel, based in Toronto, had about 34,000 employees, compared with 94,500 six years ago. (NYT)
When he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, Yunus said that Grameen Bank had lent nearly $6 billion over the last 30 years in loans that average $130 each. A key stipulation of the program is that its loans must be for income-producing activities, not consumption. But, perhaps more important, Grameen’s borrowers also must commit to the program’s “16 decisions,” which include family planning, educating their children, not accepting or giving dowries, and embracing “discipline, unity, courage and hard work” in all walks of life. (…)
The most important lesson from Grameen is that cultural values, even those long entrenched, can be successfully modified. Bangladesh is a Muslim country, where concepts such as charging interest or using contraception are considered “un-Islamic.” Yet, by using micro-loans as a cultural stimulus as well as an economic instrument, Yunus changes the attitudes of his fellow citizens at the grass-roots level. (…)
The operational details of Grameen are equally noteworthy. By requiring weekly payments, borrowers are constantly reminded of their obligations. The close relationship between borrowers and lenders means that they know exactly the consequences of non-repayments: other potential borrowers — often fellow villagers — will be deprived of their opportunities. Grameen’s emphasis on behavioral changes alone may indeed be more of a help in easing people out of poverty than the money itself. (…)
The Grameen Bank miracle is in using those micro-loans as a social stimulus to effect needed changes in personal behavior and cultural values. This key point is often missed by those enthusiastic in replicating the bank’s success. (International Herald Tribune)