9th Edition

The Cultural Dimension of Global Business

    344 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    344 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Now in its ninth edition, The Cultural Dimension of Global Business continues to provide an essential foundation for understanding the impact of culture on global business and global business on culture. The highly experienced authors demonstrate how the theory and insights of cultural anthropology can positively influence the conduct of global business, examining a range of issues that individuals, teams, and organizations face as they work globally and across cultures. The cross-cultural scenarios presented at the end of each chapter allow students of business, management, and anthropology alike to explore cultural differences while gaining valuable practice in thinking through a variety of complex and thorny cultural issues. 

    The fully updated ninth edition offers:

    • An expanded focus on international perspectives, and greater insight into China and its emergence as a global economic power

    • Consideration of team interactions in complex global environments, including virtually, while recognizing that individuals have critical influence on business processes and outcomes

    • New methodological tools with reflections and exercises to inspire readers to begin thinking and acting globally, offering guidance on identifying salient features of an international business or partnership, adjusting to novel or unexpected circumstances, and capturing the perceptions and behaviors of global businesspeople

    • New chapters on understanding one’s own organizational culture as a precursor to conducting business globally, additional material to enhance business partnership interactions, and strategies for integrating the global into local operations

    • Discussion of the wide-ranging disruptions facing people and business around the world and the ways in which the global pandemic affected business processes and practices

    • Further resources via the Instructor & Student Resource, www.routledge.com/cw/ferraro2, including links, blogs, and videos, an instructor’s resource manual, and a section on relevant cultural sources.



    1 Cultural anthropology and global business

    Global business: connections and disruptions

    The perspective of cultural anthropology

    Cultural anthropology and the business sector

    Business anthropology

    The value of taking culture into account

    Anthropology’s major concept: culture

    Culture as process

    Culture is learned

    Culture influences biological processes

    Cultural universals exist

         Economic systems

         Kinship systems

         Educational systems

        Social control systems

        Supernatural belief systems

        Cultural change

    People from all cultures are ethnocentric

    Cultures are integrated wholes

    Cultural differences in business: challenges and opportunities

    Cross- cultural scenarios

    2 Applying lenses to understand culture

    Cultural themes




    Relative stability


    Value alignment

    Organizational status


    A method



    Unforeseen change

    Cyclical change


    National culture differences

    Organizational culture differences

    Contrasting values

    The individual– collective dimension

         How individualism– collectivism plays out in individual- oriented cultures

         How individualism– collectivism plays out in collective- oriented cultures

         Implications for business

    The equality– hierarchy dimension

         How equality– hierarchy plays out in egalitarian cultures

         How equality– hierarchy plays out in hierarchical cultures

         Implications for business

    The change orientation dimension

        How orientations to change play out in change- embracing cultures

        How orientations to change play out in change- fearing cultures

        Implications for business

    The time orientation dimension

        Precise versus loose reckoning of time

        Sequential versus synchronized time

        How time orientation plays out

                 In precise/ sequential- oriented cultures

                In loose/ synchronized- oriented cultures

        Past, present, and future orientations

        How time orientation plays out

               In past- oriented cultures

               In present- oriented cultures

              In future- oriented cultures

        The busyness factor

        How time orientation plays out in busy cultures

        Implications for business


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    3 Communicating nonverbally across cultures

    The nature of nonverbal communication

    Types of nonverbal communication

    Potential pitfalls in studying nonverbal communication

    Business introductions

    Business card exchange


    Gift giving

    Interactions among businesspeople

    Body posture


    Hand gestures

    Facial expressions



        Personal space

        Public space and work

    Visual media


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    4 Communicating across cultures using language

    The ideal of linguistic proficiency in global business

    Defining language

    Communicate more, misunderstand less, partner better

    Cultural competence is essential too!

    Need a reason to learn a foreign language?

       English language skills are not always, or routinely, sufficient

       Language skills enable relationship and partnership building

       Few possess both language and specific technical skills

       While helpful, interpreters have limits

       Knowing more than one language improves contextual understanding

    Linguistic diversity

    Spoken languages worldwide

    “What do they speak there?”

        When the assumptions turn out wrong

        Learning from firsthand experience

        Revisiting and revising our assumptions

    Language and culture

    The influence of culture on language

       Culture and business

       Culture and sports

       Culture and language preservation

    Language and social context

    Take relationship specifics into account

    Translation issues can lead to miscommunication

    Additional complicating factors



    Conversational taboos



    Information and communication technologies


    Text messages


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    5 Negotiating across cultures

    What is negotiation?

    The negotiation process

    The nature of cross-cultural negotiation

    Where to negotiate

    Effective strategies for international negotiators

    Avoid cultural cluelessness

    Prepare carefully

    Concentrate on long- term relationships, not short- term contracts

    Focus on the interests behind the positions

    Avoid overreliance on cultural generalizations

    Be sensitive to timing

    Consider silence as a source of help

    Remain flexible

    Learn to listen, not just speak

    Act ethically and with integrity

    The use of interpreters

    Prior to the negotiations

    During the negotiations: communicating with your interpreter

    During the negotiations: communicating with your counterpart

    After the negotiations


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    6 Understanding organizational culture

    What is organizational culture?

    Organization as a culture

    Describing an organizational culture

    Explaining “What’s going on?”

    Meetings as opportunities for collaboration and problem solving

    Meetings and national culture differences

    Meetings and organizational culture differences

    Lessons drawn from meetings

    Decision- making models to advance the work

    Decision making and cultural differences

    Decision making and organizational culture differences

        Majority preferred at Small Car Group

        100 percent consensus at Saturn

        Leadership driven at Opel

        Single voice of authority at Isuzu

        Individual empowerment at GM Truck Group

       Collaboration at GM do Brasil

    The impact of decision- making differences

    Lessons drawn from decision- making models

    Governing in a Chinese family business

    A tea restaurant in Hong Kong

    Lessons about kinship and business

    “Silos” symbolizing the lack of integration

    Perceptions by the acquired firms

    Solutions for breaking down silos


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    7 Partnering across cultures

    Partnership basics

    Partnering relationships and problem solving

    Partnering with on- site work colleagues

        Lack of shared knowledge of “how we work around here”

            Case 1: An inability to hear the issue and problem solve together

            Case 2: A confidence turns into a betrayal

       Building integration

          Case 3: Making the decision to engage with other stakeholders

          Case 4: Involving the entire team in applied research tasks

          Case 5: Addressing issues of status and power among migrating healthcare workers

       Lessons from the cases

    The experience of global virtual partnerships

        Distinctions between local and global partnerships

       Global virtual partnerships

    Partnership life cycle

    Initiation stage

    Start-up stage

    Growth stage

    Mature stage


    Partnership process outcomes

    Partnership product outcomes


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    8 Transforming business culture Definition of cultural transformation

    Change unfolding

    Developing and implementing a plan for change

    Data gathering

    Comparing the plan wit the stated cultural ideals

    Analyzing the reactions to change

    Moving forward

    Critical attributes of planned cultural transformation

    Core idea

    Concept of culture

    Time-based process

    Business approach to change

    Core theme

    Culture understood

    Three- stage process models

    Multi- stage process models


    Anthropological approach to change

    Mechanisms of change


      Cultural loss



    Acculturation often underlies organizational- culture change

        Where are all the anthropologists?

       Similarities to an anthropological approach

       Crises often force change: a manufacturing case study

       Process and problem solving as core ideas


    Applying the planned cultural transformation process to health care


    Assessment of process


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    9 Exploring consumers and users

    Consumer or customer? Oh, and what’s a user?

    An anthropological approach to understanding consumers and users

    Methodology in consumer research

    Methodology in design research

    Interface between business organizations and consumers

    The gold star question

    Difficulty keeping pace with market complexity

       Design district

       Macy’s department store

       At home with consumers

    Product development challenges


    Understanding products holistically

    Coffee with an anthropological twist

    Fine chocolate without the guilt

    Collaborative approaches in understanding users

    A day in the life … and a sportswear opportunity revealed

    A breath of fresh air … brought inside

    Brand meaning and advertising

    Inspirational characters with compelling stories

    Know thy consumers’ culture

    When values are at odds

    The story unfolds

    Intervention options


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    10 Acting and managing globally Globally oriented firms

    Recruiting and hiring

    Supporting diverse work teams

    Valuing international assignments

    Business trip

    “Frequent flyer” assignments

    Commuter assignments

    Rotational assignments

    Short-term assignments

    Long-term assignments

    International transfers

    Building global leadership competencies

    Broad perspective

    Appreciation of alternative viewpoints

    Case 1: A reflection on a broad perspective and alternative viewpoints

    Balancing contradictions

    Emotional resilience

    Case 2: A reflection on balancing contradictions and resilience

    Case 3: A reflection on global leadership competencies

    Reimagining global strategy


    Cross- cultural scenarios

    Appendix: Cross- cultural scenario discussions





    Gary P. Ferraro is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, received his BA from Hamilton College and his MA and PhD from Syracuse University. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Swaziland (1979–1980) and at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic (2003) and twice served as a visiting professor for the University of Pittsburgh's Semester at Sea Program, a floating university that travels around the world. He has conducted long-term research in Kenya and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and has traveled widely throughout many other parts of the world. He has served as a consultant/trainer for such organizations as the Peace Corps, IBM, Bank of America, Georgia Pacific, Duke Energy, and J.M. Huber, among others.

    Elizabeth K. Briody has been involved in cultural-change efforts for over 35 years, first at General Motors Research and later through her own consulting practice, Cultural Keys. She has worked with clients in manufacturing, health care, petrochemicals, consumer products, and service industries. She has written several books including Transforming Culture and Partnering for Organizational Performance. Briody is leading the Anthropology Career Readiness Network to improve student preparation for the job market and is Past President of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology. Briody was the 2020 awardee of the Bronislaw Malinowski Award for lifetime achievement from the Society for Applied Anthropology. She earned her BA from Wheaton College, Norton, MA and her MA and PhD from The University of Texas at Austin.