Cross-cultural cross-training

Today I had the pleasure of addressing a class studying cross-cultural negotiations at HEC, the most prestigious business school in France. "Local roots, global reach." The park-like campus is located in Versailles.

I'd met Dr. Nouha Thomières in the beginning of the week at the quarterly business breakfast of the Oxford University Society in Paris, and she invited me to participate in the first meeting of the class. I was there as specimen American businessman rather than as a learning hot-shot.

Using Getting to Yes as a process, the class will devote a session each to negotiating in Asia, Latin America, the U.S., etc.

I gave my current shtick on how eLearning was born and how it failed to live up to expectations.

Some members of the class showed scant enthusiasm for my description of how weblogs are impacting knowledge transfer. Or perhaps their torpor was an aftershock from the party that lasted most of the night before. Or the fact that class followed lunch.

I asked how many had taken a computer-based course (none), used an online discussion group (none), had a website (1), a laptop (2), and frequent Internet access (all).

Finding that no one was familiar with the term "Community of Practice," I described the history and culture of Silicon Valley, and the impact of the gold rush, railroads, the 1906 earthquake, Stanford University, Messrs. Terman and Shockley, and the free thinking of beats, hippies, and other rebels on the Valley's values today. France and the Valley differ in so many ways -- job mobility, working from home, the importance of credentials, and more.

Compared to American college students, this group had a marvellous command of a second language; all spoke flawless English. These students were also more reserved. They are in a two-year transition from K12 (and in France, everyone has the same centralized K12 curriculum) to an MBA program.

Dr. Thomières' rapid summary of the cross-cultural findings of Edward T. Hall, George Simons, Geert Hofstede, and others was perfect preparation for my work with Didaxis the following day, for Didaxis is pursuing the same subject area in the commercial environment.

Related link: Institute for Research on Intercultural Cooperation

Posted by Jay Cross at March 29, 2003 07:49 PM | TrackBack

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