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good Swede, a real American or a true Brit, as the case may be. Interacting with
our compatriots, we generally find that the closer we stick to the rules of our
society, the more accepted we become.

Culture Shock

Our precious values and unshakeable core beliefs take a battering when we ven-
ture abroad. “Support the underdog!” cry Guy Fawkes–loving English. The Aus-
tralians, famous historical underdogs themselves, echo this to the full. Germans
and the Japanese, although temporary underdogs themselves after the Second
World War, tend to support the more powerful of two adversaries, seeing the
underdog as necessarily the less efficient. The Japanese government, through its
Ministry of Trade and Industry, issues directives to the larger banks to lend
money to those industries that are currently thriving and have the potential for
further growth, while discouraging loans to enterprises that have become old-
fashioned or have little hope for success in the future. This attitude is in marked
contrast to that so long prevalent in Britain, where ancient factories were kept
alive and industrial underdogs such as textiles and coal mining were supported
long after they were economically viable.
Figure 2.2 shows the different paths our core beliefs take according to the cul-
ture we try to impose them on. Others are not aware of our values simply by
looking at us. They may draw certain conclusions from the manner in which we
dress, but these days most businesspeople dress in a similar way. It is only when
we say or do something that they can gain deeper insight into what makes us tick.
This utterance or action may be described as a cultural display or event, since, by
its execution, we reveal our cultural attitudes. The cultural display might be an
Italian (probably from Rome) who turns up half an hour late for a scheduled
meeting. In her own cultural environment this will make no waves, for most of
the others will be late too. Were she to turn up 30 minutes late in an alien cul-
ture, say Germany, she would deliver a culture shock of no mean proportions.
Germans do not like to be kept waiting for 3 minutes, let alone 30. Immediate
resistance and protest by the German leads to Italian defense (traffic jam, ill
daughter, etc.) and eventually a defense of the Italian way of life: “Why are you
Germans so obsessed about time? You are like clocks!” Such confrontation often
leads to deadlock and even withdrawal from a project.
In a friendly culture (say the French), the criticism will be couched in cyni-
cism but will be less final or damning: “Mon vieux, tu m’as volé une demie heure, tu

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