Tips for the North American Manager Working in Latin America

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If you are an American, charged with leading a team in Latin America, you may be unaware of the rules that govern how people interact in that culture. Too often aspiring global leaders work under the assumption that all people play by the same rules and their cultural perspective is the only perspective. A framework of cultural dimensions may help you to see both the similarities and also the differences between your American assumptions and those of your Latin American team. Such knowledge may be the determining factor in your success in the cross-cultural setting.

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Tips for the North American Manager Working in Latin America

  1. 1. Dr. Greg WaddellDr. Greg Waddell
  2. 2. Why different groups think and act so differently
  3. 3. What do We Mean by “Culture”? “A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration” ‒ Schein,1992, p. 12
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. Conflicts over goals 4
  6. 6. Conflicts over goals Impatience or lack of time 4
  7. 7. Conflicts over goals Impatience or lack of time Conflicting values 4
  8. 8. Conflicts over goals Impatience or lack of time Conflicting values 4 Ambiguous structure
  9. 9. Conflicts over goals Impatience or lack of time Conflicting values Lack of a Framework 4 Ambiguous structure
  10. 10. Power Distance1
  11. 11. Power Distance1 Individualism-Collectivism2
  12. 12. Power Distance1 Individualism-Collectivism2 Uncertainty Avoidance3
  13. 13. Power Distance1 Individualism-Collectivism2 Uncertainty Avoidance3 Time Orientation4
  14. 14. Power Distance1 Individualism-Collectivism2 Uncertainty Avoidance3 Time Orientation4 Human Nature5
  15. 15. Power Distance1 Individualism-Collectivism2 Uncertainty Avoidance3 Time Orientation4 Human Nature5 Being-Doing6
  16. 16. Power Distance1 Individualism-Collectivism2 Uncertainty Avoidance3 Time Orientation4 Human Nature5 Being-Doing6 Verbal-Contextual7
  17. 17. “The extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.” ―Geert Hofstede Power Distance1
  18. 18. Wedding Cake?
  19. 19. Wedding Cake? or Pancake?
  20. 20. For Latin Americans … the group is more important than the individual. 2
  21. 21. For Latin Americans … the group is more important than the individual. 2 “In a collectivist society a relationship of trust should be established with another person before any business can be done” (Hofstede, 2005, pp. 102-103).
  22. 22. For North Americans … the individual is more important than the group. 2
  23. 23. For North Americans … the individual is more important than the group. 2 “To know that you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive” ─ Robert Louis Stevenson
  24. 24. 3 Lessons for the Manager working in Latin America
  25. 25. 3 Lessons for the Manager working in Latin America • Relationships • Relationships • Relationships
  26. 26. 3 “The degree to which people ... prefer structured over unstructured situations” (Hofstede).
  27. 27. 3 “The degree to which people ... prefer structured over unstructured situations” (Hofstede). Latin American culture avoids uncertainty by . . .
  28. 28. 3 “The degree to which people ... prefer structured over unstructured situations” (Hofstede). • Seeking consensus.Latin American culture avoids uncertainty by . . .
  29. 29. 3 “The degree to which people ... prefer structured over unstructured situations” (Hofstede). • Seeking consensus. • Jumping into action. Latin American culture avoids uncertainty by . . .
  30. 30. 3 “The degree to which people ... prefer structured over unstructured situations” (Hofstede). • Seeking consensus. • Jumping into action. • Hiring family Latin American culture avoids uncertainty by . . .
  31. 31. 3 “The degree to which people ... prefer structured over unstructured situations” (Hofstede). • Seeking consensus. • Jumping into action. • Hiring family • Creating structure Latin American culture avoids uncertainty by . . .
  32. 32. 4 For Latin Americans, heritage is very important.
  33. 33. “Identify with virtues linked with an orientation toward the past, such as respect for tradition, avoiding shame, and fulfilling social obligations.” ─ Geert Hofstede
  34. 34. 5 “In Spanish South America, the dominant assumption is that human nature is mixed or evil.” ‒ Kumar & Nti, 2004
  35. 35. The Mystery of Human Nature “A human being is mysterious and awesome to contemplate. . . . The easy conformity at the top of his mind may be a mask to hide his heart's treason from himself and others.” ―H. Grady Davis
  36. 36. 6 In a Being culture “people, events, and ideas flow spontaneously; people stress release, indulgence of existing desires, and living and working for the moment” ─ Nancy J. Adler
  37. 37. 6 Things that are a little more difficult in a being-oriented culture ...
  38. 38. 6 Things that are a little more difficult in a being-oriented culture ... Punctuality
  39. 39. 6 Things that are a little more difficult in a being-oriented culture ... Punctuality Planning
  40. 40. 6 Things that are a little more difficult in a being-oriented culture ... Punctuality Planning Evaluation
  41. 41. 6 Things that are a little more difficult in a being-oriented culture ... Punctuality Planning Evaluation Teams
  42. 42. 6 Things that are a little more difficult in a being-oriented culture ... Punctuality Planning Evaluation Teams “How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.” ─ Spanish Proverb
  43. 43. 7
  44. 44. Recommendations … “Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves.” ─ Donella Meadows
  45. 45. Open your eyes. Recommendations … “Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves.” ─ Donella Meadows
  46. 46. Open your eyes. Read between the lines. Recommendations … “Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves.” ─ Donella Meadows
  47. 47. Open your eyes. Read between the lines. Use more detail. Recommendations … “Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves.” ─ Donella Meadows
  48. 48. Open your eyes. Read between the lines. Use more detail. Assume misunderstanding. Recommendations … “Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves.” ─ Donella Meadows
  49. 49. Open your eyes. Read between the lines. Use more detail. Assume misunderstanding. Check your interpretations. Recommendations … “Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves.” ─ Donella Meadows
  50. 50. Open your eyes. Read between the lines. Use more detail. Assume misunderstanding. Check your interpretations. Create a shared context. Recommendations … “Before you disturb the system in any way, watch how it behaves.” ─ Donella Meadows
  51. 51. “The more synergistic and transformative leaders today realize that while competition appears to work on the surface, underneath lies the real secrets of adaptation and self-organization which make all synergy systems work” (Stagich, 2001, p. 179).
  52. 52. Horses galloping (IMG_6411_x.JPG) by Mary R. Vogt. Accessed September 3, 2007 from http://www.morguefile.com/archive/?display=154233& Horse galloping (IMG_2271.g.JPG) by Mary R. Vogt. Accessed September 3,2007 from http://www.morguefile.com/archive/?display=148432& Circus Acrobats (Circus Beija-Flor - 33) by carf. Accessed September 4, 2007 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/beija-flor/7066025/in/photostream/ The following photos are my own: Monastery Door Gaucho playing guitar All other photos from the Microsoft Office Online collection
  53. 53. Hofstede, G. & Hofstede, G. J. (2005). Cultures & organizations, software of the mind (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Kumar, R. & Nti, K. O. (2004) National cultural values and the evolution of process and outcome discrepancies in international strategic alliances. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 40(3), 344-361. Retrieved March 12, 2005, Henry Grady Davis, Design for Preaching. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1958), Adler, N. J. (1997). International dimensions of organizational behavior (3rd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College. Meadows, D. (Winter, 2001). Dancing with systems: What to do when systems resist change. Whole Earth Magazine. [Excerpt from an unpublished manuscript] Accessed August 26, 2005 from http://www.wholeearthmag.com/ArticleBin/447.html Stagich, T. (2001). Collaborative Leadership and Global Transformation. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse.
  54. 54. It is not my intention to offend anyone by these observations and recommendations. Nor do I mean to contribute to unwarranted stereotypes. I recognize that there are exceptions to these generalities and that individuals are personalized beings full of surprises. My only intention here is to promote understanding that might aid a manager working in a cross-cultural setting. Disclaimer
  55. 55. Dr. Greg Waddell Professor of Leadership Studies & Course Designer DrGregWaddell@gmail.com

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