Intercultural Management Quarterly Integrating Culture and Management in Global Organizations
In This Issue...
Winter 2010 Vol. 11, No. 01
Managing Personal Space.......................................................3 by Richard Harris Re-Defining Sustainability for Long-Term Success..............................................................................................7 by Fons Trompenaars and Peter Woolliams Europeâ€™s Call to Intolerance...................................................11 by Mona Eltahawy Students of Four Decades......................................................13 A Discussion with the Authors David J. Bachner and Ulrich Zeutschel Property Rights, Capital Accumulation and Economic Development: the Case of Ghana...............................................................................................17 by Samuel K. Andoh and Yilma Gebremariam
From the Editor
Publisher: Dr. Gary R. Weaver Managing Editor: Kathryn Schoenberger
Dear Readers, Welcome to my first edition of IMQ! I’m so pleased to begin my time as managing editor of this publication. I think we have put together an interesting and thought provoking edition that I hope lives up to the high standards set by my predecessors. We start this issue with an ending, in the form of the final article by Richard Harris in his series on managing space. His last piece illustrates the differing standards of personal space in various cultures.
Editorial Review Board
David Bachner, Dan Deming, Annmarie McGillicuddy, Adam Mendelson, Darrel Onizuka, Chris Saenger, Karen Santiago, Gary Weaver, Sherry Zarabi The Intercultural Management Quarterly (IMQ) is published by the Intercultural Management Institute at American University. IMQ combines original research conducted in the field of interculutral management with the applied perspectives of industry experts, professors and students.
Next we are pleased to have the opportunity to provide a “teaser” for the 11th Annual Conference on Intercultural Relations in March with pieces by both of our keynote speakers. Fons Trompenaars, one of our keynotes, and his colleague Peter Woolliams detail a new definition of sustainability, this time for businesses while Mona Eltahawy, another conference keynote speaker, writes about the recent controversial ban on new minarets in Switzerland.
Professionals, scholars, and students are invited to submit articles of 1,000-2,000 words on issues related to the study and practice of intercultural management. Articles must be innovative and contribute to the knowledge in the field but should avoid overly academic jargon. Footnotes or endnotes are discouraged except for direct quotes or citations. Each submission is refereed by the members of the IMQ editorial review board. Accepted pieces are subject to editing.
Ulrich Zeutschel and IMI’s own David J. Bachner sit down with IMQ to answer some questions on their recent book about study abroad and homestays. Finally Samuel K. Andoh and Yilma Gebremariam address some of the issues and complications of property rights in Ghana and other developing countries.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the express written permission of the Publication Manager. Please contact the Managing Editor for reprint availability.
I would like to thank our Publisher Gary Weaver, IMI Assistant Director Karen Santiago, IMI Advisory Council Chair David Bachner, our former Managing Editor Dan Deming, and the rest of the review board for all of their help in making this a great issue. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your feedback. I also look forward to meeting many of your at the conference in March.
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© 2010 Intercultural Management Quarterly
Managing Personal Space by Richard Harris
Part Seven of a Seven-Part Series
The study of culture in the proxemic sense is therefore the study of people’s use of their sensory apparatus in different emotional states during different activities, in different relationships, and in different settings and contexts. -Edward T. Hall
n a recent trip to Japan, President Barack Obama contrived simultaneously to charm his hosts and offend a sizeable number of his compatriots by both bowing and shaking hands with the Japanese Emperor. Media comment in the U.S. ranged from chauvinist rhetoric about the U.S. President not having to bow to anybody, to spurious analysis by ‘experts’ on whether the bow in question was of the appropriate depth or declination and whether the handshake was redundant. Further expert opinion debated the appropriateness or otherwise of touching the Emperor at all, as it did when Michelle Obama laid a hand on the Queen of England last year. In Japan, meanwhile, Obama’s bow and handshake clearly delighted the Imperial couple along with the overwhelming majority of their subjects — although the smiles on Japanese faces were interpreted by some U.S. commentators as embarrassment. Interestingly, the cultural reception of this presidential gesture was almost precisely the reverse of that when, at a gathering of world leaders in St Petersburg in 2006, George W. Bush spontaneously gave Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany an unexpected and clearly unwelcome neck rub. An action that may have been seen as a friendly overture in Crawford, Texas provoked outrage in Germany. On this occasion many U.S. viewers could not see what the fuss was about. In both of the above cases, there were clear and significant differences in interpretation as to the appropriate use of one’s body in relation to those of others: the issue of personal space.
Richard Harris is a tenured professor in the Faculty of Management at Chukyo University, Japan, where he has lived for over 25 years. He teaches intercultural communication in Japanese at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He is the author of Paradise: A Cultural Guide, a study of cross-cultural concepts of the ideal.
Managers, and indeed all of us, in multicultural settings have to deal with a complex range of reactions with regard to personal space and its perceived infringement, a problem exacerbated by the frequent inability on the part of the persons affected to express exactly why they are feeling uncomfortable or tense. How far away should another person stand during a conversation? How close can a third person approach without intruding? How does one interact with another who is on the telephone? Do lowered voices in a conversation signify respect for others or furtiveness? Does poking one’s head around another’s office door to ask a question imply politeness or trespass? Under what circumstances is it appropriate to touch another person, or to maintain eye contact? How are all these situations affected by age, status, or gender of the participants? Our answers to such questions are so deeply ingrained that they often lie beneath the level of conscious thought, appearing to us as universal common sense, or human nature. While many of these spatial perceptions, such as the sense of being crowded, are indeed rooted in evolutionary biology, and are to that extent hardwired, the immense variety of their particular expressions in different societies show them to be powerful cultural constructs, the study of which is called proxemics. Proxemics, according to Hall, who coined the term, refers to “the interrelated observations and theories of man’s use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture.” In this sense it is commonly listed as one of the most important culturally specific nonverbal communication codes or behaviors, along with others such as gesture, facial expression, dress, haptics (touching), olfactics (smell), and chronemics (time). Indeed, some of these other nonverbal signals are themselves dependent on proxemics; to be close enough to touch or smell another person, or to detect subtle changes of expression or posture, implies an interpersonal propinquity that is highly culturally regulated. Many U.S. Americans, Japanese, and northern Europeans can experience excruciating discomfort, if not threat, in interactions with people from cultures such as many South American ones, where tactile communication is a normal part of conversation, or with Arabs, who expect to feel and smell the other person’s breath during a same-gender encounter.
Personal Space... Hall defined four spatial zones that people in all cultures recognize, albeit with differing ideas as to their dimensions: the intimate (lovemaking, comforting), the personal (casual conversations, friendly encounters), the social (formal conversations, business), and the public (lectures, speeches). As Stella Ting-Toomey has written, “irritations most often occur in defining what constitutes intimate space as opposed to personal space,” and many writers on proxemics use the image of an invisible bubble to describe the intimate/personal zone, that area beyond the outlines of the physical body that a person nevertheless feels to be part of his or her space. Not only is this bubble culturally conditioned, it is also highly contextual, its outline expanding or contracting according to the situation. Our bubble necessarily shrinks on the subway during rush hour, yet if someone is the only passenger on the bus and the next person to board takes the adjacent seat (a common, sociable act in the Philippines, for example), many westerners would experience a visceral sense of personal space violation. Furthermore, the personal bubble can extend to material features of the environment, where it is known as territoriality — my desk, my house, my car, my parking space. Few aspects of our lives do not exhibit a proxemic dimension, and the emotional and behavioral consequences of perceived transgressions, from mild discomfort through road rage to violent conflict, may be no less severe for being largely below the level of awareness. Ideas of appropriate personal space are of far more than merely academic interest. In the previous articles of this series, I have attempted to build on Hall’s work by considering a number of conceptual frames other than the personal by which humans perceive space differently according to their cultural backgrounds. By looking once again at these frames with specific reference to personal space perception, it may be possible to illustrate the interrelated nature of the whole topic, showing not only how proxemic values derive from cultural backgrounds, but how they in turn help to form the outward manifestations of a culture. By understanding more about the complex cultural patterns that underlie what we unconsciously see or viscerally experience as ‘wrong’, we can perhaps enlarge our ability to empathize with and more effectively manage disputes and misunderstandings. Residential and occupational spaces such as houses and
offices demonstrate clearly the ways in which the personal bubble can expand to enclose the physical environment, size and location often equating to status or sense of self-worth — or at least the image of those qualities that the occupier wishes to project. Cars can, in this sense, be thought of as a kind of temporary residence; many people driving Hummers tend to feel they have not only the right to more space, but also to greater deference from other road users. Territoriality does seem to be a human universal, yet its expression is culturally contingent to a very high degree. For many U.S. homeowners the house is an extension of the self, its furnishings and décor reflecting the owner’s personality. It is a place to entertain friends, but only within circumscribed limits; some areas are private, or access is restricted, even for other members of the household — the teenager’s room, the father’s workshop, the parents’ bedroom. It is a notable cultural feature of such houses that specific rooms are devoted to certain activities, as opposed to the cultural pattern in which the space stays the same but the activities change, as in traditional Japanese houses or Hopi dwellings. Such differences may be connected to wider cultural values reflecting relative ambiguity and flexibility, openness and propriety; visitors to both homes and workplaces must therefore expect to encounter sometimes radically differing and consequentially significant ideas regarding personal space and its limits. Communal space, the physical shape of the society in which a person grows up, is a major influence on the individual sense of personal boundaries. The unplanned, organic shape of older, mixed-use settlements may inculcate in its inhabitants a mindset very different to that of people brought up within the rectilinear grid of a planned residential development, especially a gated community. Also, in a small, stable village or town of contiguous dwellings there is likely to be less privacy than in a large city with a more transient population of mutual strangers, and personal bubbles tend to be more porous in the former. On the other hand, the higher population density of the city requires that personal space be more often inadvertently invaded, and boundaries are harder to maintain, hence the common urban strategy of avoiding eye contact. Urban conditions are therefore more conducive to producing what ethologists term critical distance situations, the ‘fight or flight’ scenario in which personal space must either be yielded or defended. Clearly, Intercultural Management Quarterly
some cultures do much better than others at resolving these situations without recourse to violence, suggesting a values system with less emphasis on individualism and personal rights. The line between public and private is much less definitively drawn in societies committed to communal or shared responsibility, a values difference that will influence all aspects of communication and behavior. The connections between environmental and personal space are manifold. It is often said in Japan, for instance, that U.S. Americans seem to ‘take up more space’ than Japanese, an observation unrelated to actual body size. Voices are louder, gestures are broader, postures are more voluminous — all of which probably stems from the U.S. sense of coming from a huge country with ample room to spread out, as opposed to the feeling of physical constraint appropriate to inhabiting a mountainous island the size of California but with five times the number of people. Other environmental factors such as landscape and climate clearly have their effects, both physical and psychological; an upbringing in a region subject to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes may engender a different attitude to risk and a higher degree of environmental awareness compared to a native of a more predictably hospitable land. Seasonal affective disorder can have debilitating effects on someone raised in sunnier climes. And on a yet smaller scale, the sensory environment can intrude on personal space by evoking strong cultural memories and associations. Few expatriate Indonesians can encounter the smell of cloves, the pervasive aroma of their homeland, without experiencing powerful nostalgia, just as Muslims, wherever they are in the world, will react physically on hearing the call to prayer, or people returning to their home town after a long absence will be affected by the first sight of a oncefamiliar landmark. With regard to the geographical frame, everyone has a unique mental image of the world together with his or her place in it — typically, in the very centre. These subjective maps are formed from a range of cultural influences, including the media to which we are exposed, our education, and our necessarily limited experience of other peoples and regions, and the resulting generalizations and stereotypes need have little relationship to geographical reality to affect our actions with regard to others. We tend Winter 2010
to interact with other people, that is, from a position of unconscious ethnocentrism, arrogating to ourselves a set of rights and beliefs that license us to act in ways that may easily be perceived as personal trespass. Although all multicultural situations fit this description, tourism provides ample and obvious evidence of such attitudes, and host cultures are increasingly attempting to sensitize visitors to local customs and expectations with regard to personal space. The Provincial Tourist Department of Luang Prabang, Laos, for instance, has produced, with the aid of UNESCO, a detailed pamphlet on appropriate dress, use of cameras, prohibitions against bodily contact, and concepts of privacy, and such strategies no doubt help to mitigate the most egregious transgressions (see page 6). Our bodies and the ways in which we use and adorn them, however, are products of a highly specific and influential cultural geography and, outside of this familiar context, even with the best of intentions a total avoidance of offence is probably impossible. Openness to new experience, careful observation, and an obvious attitude of curiosity, respect and humility are no doubt the most helpful approaches. Although the two terms are at opposite ends of the ostensibly linear framework I have used for this series, cosmological space is in many respects inseparable from personal space, giving the overall pattern a circular form. Cultural ideas about the physical body and its nature inevitably reflect metaphysical beliefs, and connections between personal microcosm and universal macrocosm, while differing in particulars, are common to many cultures around the world. Systems of varying degrees of plausibility, from Chinese feng shui to western zodiacal horoscopes illustrate the widespread and enduring appeal of such beliefs. Although cosmological ideas may be unacknowledged, they can be nevertheless powerful, resulting in mutual incomprehension in many spheres of interaction, perhaps especially in the areas of health and medical communication. A telling example of the implications of such cultural misunderstanding has been well described by Anne Fadiman in her book about the Hmong understanding of epilepsy, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Equally significant differences in beliefs about the body, whether it is sacred or profane, and who has ultimate control over it exist within cultures much more superficially similar, as in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses or Christian Scientists, and are especially
Personal Space... Tourist Etiquette Brochure for Luang Prabang, Laos
image courtesy of Chittakone Vilaipong and Big Brother Mouse
salient in debates about health insurance, abortion, capital punishment, or torture. To an extent, all of these examples reflect differing core values about control and responsibility, not only with regard to oneâ€™s own body, its limits, and its condition, but also those of others. *** As I hope is clear, not only from this article but from the preceding six in the series, managing space in all its various forms involves a delicate balancing act between staying true to oneâ€™s own fundamental principles, as well as those of the organization or culture to which one belongs, yet at the same time demonstrating respect for and willingness to engage with the very different values and perceptions of others. As with all intercultural encounters, three concepts are vital to maintaining this balance, and the managerâ€™s main concern should be to devise ways to facilitate and encourage their development. In the first place, curiosity about other cultures and their patterns is essential, and this impulse must be satisfied with accurate information, rather than loose generalizations and stereotypes. Such understanding must then inspire an informed respect for the cultural differences that will manifest themselves. In the course of these articles I have suggested ways in which these three attitudes may be inspired, but individual situations
render any specific prescription otiose. At the very least though, managers should try to cultivate an atmosphere in which careful, active listening is a component of open, non-threatening dialogue among as many participants as possible. Cultural differences in space perception may be subtle, yet can result in serious conflict in situations ranging from the interpersonal to the international. Given a sufficient measure of awareness and goodwill, however, exploration of these same differences can lead not only to an enjoyably enhanced understanding of ourselves and of the rich cultural worlds around us, but also to increased organizational efficiency and profitability. This entire series of articles, perhaps especially this last, owes an immense and obvious debt to the work of Edward T. Hall, who died last summer at the age of 95. Dr Hall was a teacher, a colleague, and a source of personal and professional inspiration to me for many years, and I should like to take this opportunity to express my profound and sincere appreciation both for the gift of his life and for the enormous contributions he has made to our field. i
For a list of references please see page 19
Intercultural Management Quarterly
Re-Defining Sustainability for Long-Term Success by Fons Trompenaars and Peter Woolliams
Securing the long-term success of the organization
hilst organizations share similar problems during these difficult times, their initial approach to try to solve them is usually rooted in their culture and past behaviors. Over adherence to any one single established model ranging from ‘scientific management’, a ‘Theory Y’ human resource dimension basis, customer orientation, shareholder value or corporate social responsibility has been shown over time to be unduly restrictive when applied in isolation. A new embracing framework is required that meets the dynamics and competing demands in modern (global) business. Our research and consulting reveals that longterm success needs to be based on a reconciliation of the dilemmas created between the competing demands arising from the fundamental components described in classic general system theory ~ namely those of internal business processes, employees, shareholders, society and customers. New solutions are required that are grounded in a strategy that is aligned with the organization’s values. In other words, we need to link cultural differences to the bottom line.
Redefining sustainability We have found that ‘organizational sustainability’ is not limited to the fashionable environmental factors such as emissions, green energy, savings of scarce resources, corporate social responsibility etc. The future strength of an organization depends on the way leadership and management deal with the tensions between the five major entities facing any organization: Efficiency of Business
Processes, People, Clients, Shareholders and Society. The manner in which these tensions are addressed and resolved determine the future strength and opportunities of an organization. And the task for today is to connect and integrate these drivers in ways that is more than just compromise. We have collected and analyzed some 8,000 of these tensions from our web-based On-line surveys from across the globe from the top Fortune 500 global companies and familiar household names, through to more local or specialist companies. From this we have identified frequently recurring ‘10 Golden Dilemmas’, which exist between these five components.
Employee Development and Learning Shareholder Return, Financial Performance, and Growth
Client, customers, and suppliers Society at large
Satisfaction Contributions to society
These dilemmas are listed below with a relatively high level of abstraction but in practice we help clients restate them as to how they apply more specifically in their own organization.
Fons Trompenaars, PhD, is CEO of Trompenaars Hampden-Turner Consulting, a firm focused on intercultural management. He is the author of many books and related articles including Riding the Waves of Culture, Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business, Seven Cultures of Capitalism and Mastering the Infinite Game, Business Across Cultures. He will be a keynote speaker at the 11th Annual IMI Conference on Intercultural relations March 11-12, 2010. Peter Woolliams, PhD, is emeritus professor of international management at Anglia Ruskin University, UK and is an owner/partner in Trompenaars Hampden-Turner Consulting. He is co-author with Trompenaars for Business Across Cultures and Marketing Across Cultures.
Sustainability... Golden Dilemma 1
On the one hand
On the other hand
(B: Employees) We need to develop our people for their future roles
(A: Business Processes) We need to become more cost conscious and results oriented (C: Shareholder) We need to cut costs (A: Business Processes) We need wherever we can for the sake of our to invest for long-term shareholder’s return sustainability (A: Business Processes) We need to supply (D: Clients) We need to supply standard products/services as products/services that respond defined from HQ to local tastes and needs (A: Business Processes) We need to focus (E: Society) We need to serve the wider on Cash flow and Working Capital community in a sustainable and responsible way (B: Employees) We need to motivate and (C: Shareholder) We need to satisfy our reward our people shareholder (B: Employees) We need to educate clients/ (D: Clients) We need to keep the customers with new solutions we customer in focus ahead of our can offer own personal preference (B: Employees) We need to retain equal (E: Society) We need to apply some opportunities for all existing staff positive discrimination to increase diversity (D: Clients) We need to satisfy our clients/ (C: Shareholder) We need to generate customers needs both revenue and capital growth for our shareholders (C: Shareholder) We need to maximize (E: Society) We need to adapt to the shareholder return from our future as society evolves existing business (E: Society) We need to supply products (D: Clients) We need to supply and services that enhance our products which our clients and reputation in the wider community customers are asking for
The challenges for securing long-term success
Every organization seems to have different priorities when focusing on these dilemmas that need to be reconciled in order to achieve long-term success. It is not a matter of choosing between one extreme of side the dilemma, nor adopting a compromise (that will always be lose-lose). There are non-stop culture clashes and by culture we mean not simply the cultures of different nations, but those of different disciplines, functions, genders, classes, and so on.
Assessing corporate performance If we use conventional metrics solely based on linear models then these cannot adequately explain or diagnose how a given organization is responding to these dilemmas. In response, we have designed instruments that use combinations of questions that capture BOTH sides of the dilemma such as: • We are able to meet short-term demands without compromising our long-term vision. • There is a strong culture within which we can be flexible. • We learn from particular client needs to improve our general product/service portfolio. • We have teams that consist of creative individuals. • We integrate the products/services we develop with the evolving needs of the client/customer in mind.
Intercultural Management Quarterly
We and also invite respondents to place their organization on two-dimensional grids to obtain the current versus ideal state of each dilemma.
local needs through high-tech manufacturing which can lower costs of small production runs. And thus although different cultures share the same Golden Dilemmas, it is their starting point that is culturally determined ~ although they all seek an integration between the two extremes as their ideal. We also assess the current status of the dilemma against an ideal state that would result when the business benefits had been realized so that we are now in a position to now evaluate the business benefits against the costs, time scales to realize benefits and the degree to which the dilemma solution in located in one profit center or involves co-operation across a number of business units as in the example at the bottom of the page.
We need to supply global (or standardized) products/services.
We need to supply products/services that respond to local tastes and needs
This type of analysis provides an objective evaluation of where the highest return on investment can be achieved in resolving cultural conflicts and thus secures the best benefits to the business.
And as expected, such measurements are culturally determined. A major US giant is likely to be currently more focused on exporting their standard product worldwide whereas a Chinese exporter may be more concerned to supply a multiplicity of products to meet
In this particular example, the most important cultural dilemma that needed to be addressed was the need for technology push (what the company can make from its own intellectual capital) versus what the different markets want (what the organization could sell). When
Sustainability... faced with major decisions like these involving high levels of funding and human capital, such analytical approaches help leaders to validate their tacit insights by making them explicit and open them to debate.
Linking culture to business performance During the last twenty years, the fact that national and organization culture both need to be considered in modern business management has been increasingly recognized. And furthermore, a leader, even in a local company, will find they are leading and managing a workforce that is multi-cultural. Many of the conceptual frameworks for explicating culture are based around describing how different cultures give different meanings to relationships with other people, the meaning they give to their interaction with the environment and to time and by other similar cultural dimensions. Similarly, much attention has been given to the recognition and respect for cultural differences. However, if we stop at only these first two stages, we run the risk of supporting only stereotypical views on cultures. So our agenda follows the logic that in order to secure long-term success as an organization, the cultural dilemmas between the various stakeholders need to be reconciled. Since essentially innovation could be defined as combining values that are not easily joined essentially this process is created by and leads to innovation. It is the innovative capability of organizations, from process to product, from R&D to HR that will make an organization sustainable. And it is far more than just Corporate Social Responsibility. i
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Intercultural Management Quarterly
Europe’s Call to Intolerance by Mona Eltahawy
y question for Switzerland and other European countries enthralled by the right wing: When did Saudi Arabia become your role model?
Until Europe confronts long-simmering questions about how it treats immigrants -- Muslims and others -- the continent will continue to convulse with embarrassing right-wing eruptions that strip it of any right to preach to anyone on human rights and liberties.
Even before 57.5 percent of Swiss voters cast ballots on Sunday to ban the building of minarets by Muslims, it was obvious that Switzerland’s image of itself as a land Europe is an aging continent that depends on the of tolerance was as full of holes as its cheese. When the “foreigners” its right-wing politicians love to rail about. right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) came to power in In Switzerland, for example, it’s difficult for immigrants 2007, it used a poster showing a white sheep kicking black and even their children to get citizenship. sheep off the country’s flag. This was no reference to black sheep as rebels -- the right wing doesn’t do cute -- but to skin color and foreigners. Posters Minarets are use to issue the call to prayer, not to recruit people the SVP displayed to Islamic political groups. If the SVP finds such prayer calls before Sunday’s too noisy, I’d like to see it try to stifle church bells. referendum showed women covered from head to toe in black, standing in front of phallic- As a Muslim who believes in the separation of church looking minarets. Such racism preceded and fed into the (and mosque and synagogue) and state, I pay attention bigotry that fueled the referendum. when people say they are opposed to political Islam. But to suggest, as nationalist parties in Switzerland did, that Predictably, the election results sparked cries of minarets are symbols of political Islam is ridiculous. “Islamophobia,” but the situation for Switzerland’s 400,000 Muslims is not (yet) dire. The four existing Minarets are used to issue the call to prayer, not to recruit minarets were not affected by the vote, and there are still people to Islamic political groups. If the SVP finds such 150 mosques or prayer rooms in which to worship. prayer calls too noisy, I’d like to see it try to stifle church bells. Further, the Council of Europe, the continent’s top human-rights watchdog -- whose chairmanship, Raising the specter of “political Islam” or “creeping ironically, Switzerland recently took over -- has already Islamicization” to frighten voters diminishes the said the ban could violate fundamental liberties, and the concerns that ought to be discussed, such as an ideology’s Swiss justice minister said the European Court of Human opposition to many minority and women’s rights. And Rights could strike down the vote. that’s where the difficult questions lie for Europe’s Muslims. They, too, have a right wing that breeds on fear But the real issue here is more fundamental than whether and preaches an exclusionary and inward-looking Islam. or when Muslims can build minarets in Switzerland. It is the perfect foil for the non-Muslim political right Mona Eltahawy is an award winning syndicated columnist and international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues. She writes for Qatar’s Al Arab newspaper, Israel’s The Jerusalem Report, Denmark’s Politiken and Metro Canada. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune. She has also been featured as a guest analyst and commentator on a number of media outlets, including National Public Radio. She will be a keynote speaker at the 11th Annual IMI Conference on Intercultural Relations, March 11-12, 2010. This piece was originally published December 1, 2009 in the Washington Post, it was reprinted here with Eltahawy’s permission. Winter 2010
Europe... wing on the continent. But while these conservative Muslim views might hold some moral sway, they have none of the political power of the SVP and its cohorts. Meanwhile, condemnations from the Muslim world -where some have semi-jokingly called for a boycott of Swiss chocolate -- underscore the other sort of hypocrisy that must be confronted if Muslim complaints of bigotry are to be taken seriously. The Grand Mufti of Egypt, for example, denounced the ban as an “attack on freedom of belief.” I would take him more seriously if he denounced in similar terms the difficulty Egyptian Christians face in building churches in his country. They must obtain a security permit just for renovations. Last year, the first Catholic church -- bearing no cross, no bells and no steeple -- opened in Qatar, leaving Saudi Arabia the only country in the Persian Gulf that bars the building of houses of worship for non-Muslims. In Saudi Arabia, it is difficult even for Muslims who don’t adhere to the ultra-orthodox Wahhabi sect; Shiites, for example, routinely face discrimination. Bigotry must be condemned wherever it occurs. If majority-Muslim countries want to criticize the mistreatment of Muslims living as minority communities elsewhere, they should be prepared to withstand the same level of scrutiny regarding their own mistreatment of minorities. Millions of non-Muslim migrant workers have helped build Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups have long condemned the slave-like conditions that many toil under, and the possibility of Saudi citizenship is nonexistent. Muslim nations have been unwilling to criticize this bigotry in their midst, and Europeans should keep in mind that Sunday’s ban takes them in this direction. i
Intercultural Management Institute
Skills Institutes Spring 2010
Building Mediator Capacity in a Multi-cultural Context January 23-24, 2010
Gururaj Kumar, Training and Policy Program Director, ICONS Project, University of Maryland, and Jared Ordway, Program Specialist, National Association for Community Mediation
Creative Arts and Intercultural Conflict Resolution February 6-7, 2010
Michelle LeBaron, Director, Program on Dispute Resolution, University of British Columbia
Intercultural Training and Facilitation February 20-21, 2010
Ray Leki, Director, Transition Center of the Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State
Intercultural Leadership Competence April 9-10, 2010
Bram Groen, Professor, American University School of International Service Visit www.american.edu/sis/imi for registration and schedule information
Intercultural Management Quarterly
Students of Four Decades A Discussion with Authors David J. Bachner and Ulrich Zeutschel
ecently, David J. Bachner, chairman of the
Advisory Council for IMI, and his colleague Ulrich Zeutschel, published a new book on the effects on students of living with a foreign family during a study abroad period. Students of Four Decades: Participants’ Reflections on the Meaning and Impact of an International Homestay Experience, details their study of students in American-German exchanges through Youth For Understanding from 1951-1987. Both authors have been involved with the YFU in different capacities. Bachner served as Vice President of YFU’s International Exchange and is currently the Chairman of YFU International Educational Services Inc. Zeutschel, who is from Germany, participated in a YFU exchange in the United States from 1971-1970. The authors took the time to answer a few questions for IMQ, via e-mail, about the book, their research, and its implications. IMQ: Could you explain the title? David Bachner: It refers to the time span over which respondents in our study had an international educational exchange experience through Youth For Understanding (YFU) programs: the decades of the fifties, sixties, seventy, and eighties. More specifically, the respondents were German and American high school exchange students who participated in YFU homestay exchanges between 1951 and 1987 – i.e., across four decades. Students of Four Decades was the title of the original research grant we received in 1988; we liked its economy and descriptiveness, so we retained it over the years to unify, thematically, the various aspects of the study we have reported and decided to make it the title of the recently published book. IMQ: Why did you think this study was important to
conduct and how did you get involved with it? DB: We just published an article, a paragraph from which is worth quoting because it addresses the first part of your question: “It is natural, and often automatic, for exchange educators to assume that the intercultural experiences they facilitate result in any number of enduring and positive effects, including an enhanced international perspective, greater knowledge of the world, increased personal maturity, improved interpersonal and learning skills, higher foreign language proficiency, and a greater reluctance to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes and distortions of other cultures. In the interest of the exchange field and its involved constituencies at all levels – K-12, high school, university, scholar, and professional – a constant question for programmers and researchers alike should be whether or not such expectations are justified.”1 The assumption that exchanges are “good” and beneficial in their impact is a long-standing and endemic one. YFU’s concern with addressing the assumption in relation to its particular programs led to our applying to The German Marshall Fund of the United States for a research grant, which we received in 1988. The effort was a collaborative one between YFU in the U.S. and Germany. We felt it was essential that we come at the study with a bi-national perspective, with bi-cultural “eyes,” so to speak. Ulrich Zeutschel: I believe that bi-cultural collaboration was an important benefit in our investigations – as well as personally rewarding. As Director of the International Secretariat of Youth For Understanding, Inc. in Washington, DC, Dave initiated the study and coordinated it from the U.S. Both of us had backgrounds in exchange research, and as a former YFU volunteer and
David J. Bachner is the chairman of the Advisory Council of the Intercultural Management Institute and Adjunct Professor in International Communication at American University. He is Dean emeritus of Hartwick College, where he served as Dean of Global Studies and as Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of Faculty. Ulrich Zeutschel is a senior consultant for osb Hamburg GmbH, in Germany, advising on and facilitating reorganization and change projects. Since 1988 he has been a comissioned lecturer at the University of Hamburg, the University of Hanover, and the University of of Applied Science at Heilbronn. Winter 2010
Students of Four Decades... staff member in Germany I was asked to represent the German side as co-principal investigator. IMQ: Why did you choose to study the Youth for Understanding exchanges between the United States and Germany?
IMQ: What was the biggest difference you found between the American and German exchange students?
DB: Germany and the U.S. are the original YFU exchange partners (although the program now exchanges among more than fifty countries). They were, and remain, also the largest in student-number terms and had the most data and respondents available for research purposes. Finally, the German-U.S. bi-national focus fit the donor’s criteria most directly, which was why we applied to the Fund. IMQ: Was there anything surprising about your findings?
UZ: After their return, German exchange students tended to remain more exclusively interested in and involved with their former host country than their U.S. counterparts. This bilateral perspective and involvement as opposed to a more global, multilateral perspective of U.S. returnees may be related to a greater media presence of the U.S. in Germany than vice versa, but it was striking nonetheless. German returnees did increase their global perspective and multilateral involvement in the course of their lives, owing to later international experiences.
DB: One finding that stands out for me has to do with motivation – that is, the reasons respondents offered, in retrospect, to explain why they chose to be exchange students. In general, responses to this were predictable enough: For both Americans and Germans, the most important reasons for becoming an exchange student were a desire for increased independence, a sense of adventure/desire to travel, enhanced intercultural under standing, greater foreign language proficiency, the honor of being an exchangee, and an increased sense of unique ness.
DB: This is definitely not the case in America. This difference is reflected in the two organizations: YFU Germany is heavily alumni based, both among its volunteers and paid staff; YFU USA continues to look for ways to increase alumni involvement, but without notable success thus far. The lack of U.S. returnee involvement can be attributed to any number of possible factors, including the greater mobility and transience of U.S. society, which is an obstacle to stable, on-going commitment. YFU Germany, in contrast, has a sixtyyear tradition of expecting alumni involvement, and this expectation strikes me as having become quite selfreinforcing over the years.
However, and not so predictable, we also found that U.S. and German students who participated in the exchange in order to avoid certain difficulties at home (school and family problems; breaking up with a boyfriend or girl friend) were less likely to rate the exchange experience as successful/satisfactory. This so-called “escape orienta tion” was also identified as the single most important neg ative predictor of program success! I think this finding is interesting, and that it should be given special attention in participant selection and in on-program counseling. UZ: I had expected much stronger differences between the impacts of exchange experiences in the early years of German - U.S. programs and those in the 1970s and 1980s, when it wasn’t so very “special” any more to be an exchange student. What surprised me was that quite a number of effects did not vary between the different
exchange generations, but seemed to be more dependent on individual strategies and opportunities to follow up and to utilize the exchange experience.
IMQ: What do you think was your most significant finding? DB: There were many significant findings; it’s hard to isolate just one. I guess I would have to point to the host family experience – the finding that the host family expe rience is a singularly important and influential aspect of exchange. The major youth exchange programs – most notably YFU, AFS, and Rotary – have traditionally emphasized homestays with volunteer, non-compensated families in the conviction that the family most embodies “culture” and thus offers the most genuine vehicle for cultural immersion and intercultural learning. The host family experience quite frequently leads to long-term, close relationships that, in a very personal, concrete, and Intercultural Management Quarterly
practical way, promise to help bridge the gaps and rifts between cultures. UZ: I agree with Dave that it is difficult to identify the major finding. I certainly find it reassuring for educational exchange program providers that predeparture orientations and post-return involvement do make a difference: the former with regard to shaping more “serious” motives for participation, the latter for reflecting and reinforcing the learning experience and for utilizing it personally and for passing it on to others in the organization or in one’s professional or social environment. IMQ: How do you think this research will or should impact study abroad and/or international exchange in the future? DB: In our book, we make a number of recommendations for both researchers and programmers to consider in an effort to advance “best practices” in international educational exchanges. It’s too much to summarize adequately here. But one result of our work that I would like to bring to readers’ attention is a methodological framework that Uli and I constructed. Basically, we analyzed the data from the survey according to eight criteria to assess the “success” of exchange. The criteria included: (1) Individual Changes. Self‑perceived alterations in one’s attitudes, behaviors, and skills presumably induced by the exchange experience. (2) German‑U.S. Perspective/Involvement (Bilateralism). The degree to which one’s orientation since the exchange has been host-country specific. (3) Multilateral Perspective/Involvement (Globalism). The degree to which one’s orientation since the exchange has been other than or in addition to a host country‑specific emphasis. (4) Exchange‑Related/International Activities. The degree to which one participated in subsequent exchange programs or otherwise involved oneself in international relations and exchange. (5) Educational or Professional Directions Attributed to Exchange. The influence of the exchange experience upon one’s academic and career choices and plans.
(6) Utilization and Ripple Effects. The degree to which one actually has applied the results of exchange and influenced others’ attitudes, behaviors, etc. based on the results of exchange. (7) Evaluation of the YFU Program. Assessment of YFU’s program content and administration. (8) Overall Satisfaction. One’s feelings about the experience and the degree to which one assessed the exchange as fundamentally beneficial. The book goes into depth on how these criteria were derived and how to use them. I think they would be helpful for others trying to address the same perennial question we did: Are the “good effects” attributed to exchange justified? UZ: I feel that our findings with regard to criterion (6) Utilization and Ripple Effects are especially pertinent to the potential of international educational exchanges to strengthen civil society in the sending countries. If returnees transfer their intercultural insights and competence, e.g. in handling diversity or mediating conflicts in constructive ways, to their future professional and volunteer activities, they will often be able to influence others in their home environment. We found that their impact was most effective, when they acted from appropriate roles, such as teacher or mentor, and introduced their acquired insights or practices in a manner compatible with their professional or home culture. So I think it would be beneficial in post-orientations to address suitable strategies for becoming a “cultural mediator”. i
Endnotes David Bachner and Ulrich Zeutschel, “Long-Term Effects of International Educational Youth Exchange,” Intercultural Education, Supplement 1: State of the Art Research on Intercultural Learning in Study Abroad 20, No. S1-2, (2009). 1
Students of Four Decades: Participants’ Reflections on the Meaning and Impact of an International Homestay Experience is published by Waxmann Verlag GmbH, Germany, 2009, $28.55.
The Intercultural Management Institute cordially invites you to attend the
11th Annual Conference on Intercultural Relations: A Forum for Business, Education and Training Professionals
March 11-12, 2010 On the campus of American University in Washington, DC With more than 30 workshop sessions to choose from, the IMI conference offers varied, hands-on experiences to a niche audience of individuals concerned with advancing intercultural relations both domestically and internationally. The conference also provides direct networking opportunities with decision makers from a wide range of organizations. Session presenters include intercultural professionals from international business, academia, government, military, international education, training, and international human resources. Confirmed Keynote Speakers Include: Fons Trompenaars: CEO of Trompenaars Hampden-Turner Consulting Mona Eltahawy: Columnist and Public Speaker on Arab and Muslim Issues Sample Session Titles Include: Cultural DNA Cultures and the Crash Introduction to Action Learning Soft Power Skills in a Hard Power Culture Technology Infused Global Understanding for Generation Y What TCKs Can teach Us About Diversity in the Workplace Extending the Reach: The Convergence of Technology and Cross-Cultural Training Disabilities Through the Prism of Culture: Implications for the Workplace and Higher Education Engaging Voluntary Participation on an Intercultural Discussion Program: A Case Study of TALK and more! For updated information please visit:
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Intercultural Management Quarterly
Property Rights, Capital Accumulation and Economic Development: The Case of Ghana by Samuel K. Andoh and Yilma Gebremariam
he nature of property rights in a society describes to a large extent the type of economic system the society has. In a market economy, private property ownership is the prevalent feature while communal property ownership characterizes socialist systems and some developing countries in Africa. Ghana is a developing country with a definite bent towards a market system but with a communal land property ownership. This communal ownership of land, a cultural feature, is at odds with the essential tenet of the market philosophy of individual ownership of property. The result is that some of the important contributions to economic development that could be made by land are missing. This relic of the past, which seems to persist and become more and more entrenched, needs to be appraised and revised. As Joseph Kwame Somevi writes, “… keeping an institution which is not efficient is not only foolhardy but probably counterproductive, ossifying organisations in behavior trajectories which restrict their capacity to react immediately to new opportunities.”1 One of the standard prescriptions for economic development is capital accumulation. Among the reasons poor countries are said to be poor is the absence of adequate capital. It is also equally true that inadequate capital is the result of poverty; hence the “vicious cycle of poverty”. In other words, it is still unknown why poor countries are poor. One of the factors being looked at critically for its role in economic development is what may be collectively called the institutional environment. The institutional environment refers to the laws, the rules and regulations as well as the customs and conventions, which govern economies. It can be argued that one of the factors leading to inadequate capital accumulation is the institution of land tenure. As a result of the absence
of clearly defined enforceable property rights, economic development is hampered through its inability to generate capital for development. More specifically, it is argued that the absence of clearly defined property rights prevents one of the most important factors of production, land, from being fully exploited. In Ghana and many less developed countries, governments usually focus mainly on obtaining resources to improve human and physical capital; scant attention is given to restructuring the institutions. The reason is quite simple; the institutions are deeply rooted in culture and policy makers do not want to rock the boat, as it were. Economists argue that a large amount of capital is locked in land which many people own or have access to.2 If the capital locked in land could be unleashed, a great many people would have the capital to speed economic development. What prevents this potential capital from being unleashed in many of these poor countries is the system of land tenure. This is especially true in Ghana. The right of an individual to unfettered use of his personal property including disposing of it as he sees fit, is easily the most important hallmark of a market economy. When the rights of use are secure, resource owners have incentives to fully develop it so that it gives the highest return over the longest span of time. Moreover, because the resource can be disposed of as owners see fit, it becomes portable and can be easily moved to where it is most productive or can be given to the one who can make the most productive use of it: The resource becomes fungible. Whenever these rights of use are not clearly defined and or enforced, there is a tendency for the full potential of the resource to be not realized. This is true of all factors of production; labor, physical capital, entrepreneurial skill and also of land.
Samuel K. Andoh is professor of economics and finance at Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT. He was a Senior Fulbright fellow to Azerbaijan in the spring of 2000 and has assisted in restructuring the business curriculum at Kahzar University in Baku. His research interest is in macroeconomic policies in developing countries. Yilma Gebremariam is professor of economics at Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT. He teaches Economic Development, International Economics and Introduction to Principles of Macroeconomics. His current research is on role of social capital in economic development with an emphasis on Ethiopia. Winter 2010
Property Rights... In Ghana, while there is dearth of physical capital for economic development, most people have access to land which they call “theirs”. It is theirs because they can farm it, build on it, and in general do whatever they pretty much want to do with it except easily dispose of it. The nature of the ownership is so ill defined that at any point in time, it is only the person who physically occupies it who may be said to “own” it. This ownership is good as long as one physically occupies the land. As soon as one moves away from it or leave it fallow for any length of time, somebody else occupies it and with that occupation the previous tenant looses the land. One of the most important characteristic of land which makes it such a critical factor in economic development is that it in addition to one being able to build on it, and plant on it, it can be made to yield capital or funds which can be used to improve the land and make it more productive or to acquire other resources. This arises when the owner of the land is able to use it as collateral to obtain a loan (or to borrow the difference between what it cost to buy the land and the current market value; the equity). If the landowner can use the land to obtain a loan, then he can buy new equipment, hire workers and inputs, and produce more goods and services, generate more income and save more to acquire more capital. This is what makes land fungible. The inability to make land fungible is an important impediment in economic development for it means that the value of land stays locked up in the land alone and cannot be converted into any other productive resource. Unfortunately, in many places in Ghana, the rights to land are not clearly defined. Possessors of land are often no more than squatters and it does not matter how long they have been in possession. Often, the person or persons who have the right to sell the land do not have the right to use it as security for a loan because the land is communally owned. Sometimes, it even appears that there is more than one person or group of persons with the right to sell the land. Worse still, it is not unusual for the person or group of persons with the right to sell the land to sell the same parcel of land several times over. Needless to say, land sales in Ghana are rife with abuse and thus litigations. The courts of Ghana are replete
with land litigation cases which tend to drag on and are therefore very costly both to individuals and to the economy. It will be the imprudent banker who will take land as collateral for any loan. In practice, many individuals with title to land in Ghana do not know how good that title is. This is compounded by the fact that there is virtually no land title insurance. This fact is not lost on lenders who stand to suffer financially if they accept a title to land without certainty of ownership. Theoretically, this situation encourages adverse selection, an aspect of asymmetric information in which persons seeking loans with land titles may very well be those who do not have proper titles or more sinisterly, persons selling land may not be those who have the right to sell the land. In both cases, one party has less information than the other party and the party with less information could suffer a loss. Since the banks are aware of this possibility, they very rarely take land as collateral for a loan. One only needs to think of the billions of home equity loans in the US and the paucity of the same in places like Ghana to imagine the possibilities that could be unleashed by properly titling land.3 Again theoretically, adverse selection could lead to depressed land values. If the person buying the land is not sure that the seller has the right to sell, he (the buyer) could be taking a risk that at a future date, somebody could come and demonstrate a superior right and begin costly court proceedings to evict him. The buyer may therefore want to offer a price lower than land with a clean title to account for this possibility. If the seller knows that he does not have a clean title, he may readily accept the lower price being offered. Of course persons with superior titles would not be willing to sell at the lower prices. The result is the classic case in which those pieces of land, which are bought and sold, will be those with the highest probability of being subject to litigations over time. This is not as abstract as it sounds and may explain why there are so many land litigation cases in Ghana. As Ghana seeks to become a middle-income country, it behooves the government to implement a system of land tenure, which leads to the maximum generation of capital
Intercultural Management Quarterly
for economic growth. This requires streamlining the land acquisition process so that it is easy to verify ownership. Every effort must also be made to introduce and or expand title insurance so that buyers have the assurance that they will not lose their investment in land if the title proves defective. This will also make lenders willing to lend against land and thus easy to tap the locked capital which is in land.
Land reform enables landowners to fully tap the potential which land has, as an important factor for accumulating capital. There is evidence that the situation in Ghana is similar to that of many developing countries, especially in Africa. As developing countries move towards using the market system, it is important that they come to the realization that some traditional institutions may not be compatible with efficient markets. i
Goldsmith, Arthur A. “Democracy, Property Rights and Economic Growth,” Journal of Development Studies 32, No. 2 ( December: 1995): 157 – 174.
Sala-i-Martin, Xavier. “I Just Ran Two Million Regressions,” American Economic Review 87, No. 2 (May 1997) :178-183.
Joseph Kwame Somevi. “The Effectiveness of Institutions in Land Registration in Ghana,” in Our Common Estate (United Kingdom: Oxford Brookes University, October 2001). 1
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. (New York: Random House, 2002). Home mortgages outstanding in the US at the end of 2008 was $10,463.1 billion. Coded Tables in Flow of Funds Accounts,11 June 2009, 57. 3
Selected References and Further Reading
Keefer, Philip and Stephen Knack. “Why Don’t Poor Countries Catch Up? A Cross-National Test of Institutional Explanation,” Economic Inquiry 35, No. 3 (July 1997): 500-602.
Scully, Gerald. “The Institutional Framework and Economic Development,” Journal of Political Economy 96, No. 3 (June 1988): 652-662.
References and Further Reading for “Managing Personal Space”
Sack, Robert. A Geographical Guide to the Real and the Good. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Anderson, Jon. Understanding Cultural Geography: Places and Traces. London: Routledge, 2009.
Sennet, Richard. Flesh and Stone: The Body and City in Western Civilization. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.
Damasio, Antonio. The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in Making the Conciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1999. DeVito, Joseph A., & Robert E. Denton, eds. The Nonverbal Communication Reader. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1990. Hall, Edward. An Anthropology of Everyday Life: An Autobiography. New York: Anchor Books, 1992. Miller, John. Egotopia: Narcissism and the New American Landscape. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1997. Winter 2010
Sternberg, Esther. Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2009. Thomas, David C. Cross-Cultural Management: Essential Concepts.. Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2008. Ting-Toomey, Stella. Communicating Across Cultures. New York: Guilford, 2009. Tuan, Yi-Fu. Cosmos & Hearth: A Cosmopolite’s Viewpoint. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
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