Intercultural business relationships - Part 3: Resources for small business owners

As discussed in our earlier issues of the intercultural business relationships series, measurable success in the global marketplace begins with a good understanding of international protocols, practices, and cultural cues.

In part one we alerted you to the aspects of intercultural communication you need to watch out for, while in part two we offered some suggestions as to how you can become interculturally competent. 

Armed with that knowledge, now we want to direct you to a number of online resources which can help you increase your intercultural business acumen.

1. Books: Doing Business Internationally: Cross-Cultural success, 2nd Edition (Walker, D. et al, 2003): If you’re ready for a full immersion in intercultural competency, this book offers some helpful guidelines for developing a solid grounding in intercultural business practices. A well-researched and carefully thought-out effort, the authors have draw on sociology, anthropology and business sources to present a model intended to identify and define the key cultural "dimensions" found in all human cultures. After establishing the key principles of communication and negotiation across cultural lines, Doing Business Internationally defines the main success factors for effective management in the global business environment.

2. Online training programs: Perhaps you prefer a more interactive approach to learning? If that is the case, you may want to try Kwintessential's online intercultural business training program. Having partnered with, these two companies have developed a course that features a range of online tools designed to analyse and highlight cultural differences in working practices and communication styles. The course includes a self-analysis assessment tool to analyse the gap between the user's culture and the target culture; online exercises, user participation and access to a wealth of online information covering a range of cross-cultural issues. 

3. Webinars and Podcasts: If, on the other hand, you prefer your learning to be delivered in smaller doses, check the following webinars and podcasts:
• DFA Crossing Cultures offers a range of webinars available all year long delivered by Dean Foster, founder and President of DFA, and author of five books on intercultural success (highly recommended as well). Each 3-hour webinar delivers critical cross-cultural information to help you achieve smooth communication with your international business relationships.
Morela Hernandez, from the Department of Management and Organization in the Foster Business School at the University of Washington, interviews Oana Branzei, Assistant Professor of Strategy in the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario about how to establish trust in intercultural business relationships while highlighting the importance of trying to find a common ground amongst different cultures.
Cindy King, a cross-cultural marketing and international sales consultant based in France, shares some tips on how to prevent mistakes when taking your business global and talks about how to make your website ready for a global audience.
• Of a more specific nature, International House London offers a series of free podcasts focusing on doing business in India, the UK, Germany and Poland.
• And if you plan to work with Japanese business people, the podcast associated to a student project related to the book “J-Management; Fresh Perspectives on the Japanese Firm in the 21st Century” will give you some quick insights on how to best approach your Japanese business counterparts.

4. Online applications: As a small business owner, you can now avail yourself of a number of online tools designed to offer valuable insight on how to successfully interact with people from different cultures:
Country Navigator is a web-based tool offering in-depth information on culture and lifestyle, business skills, security and travel information for over 60 of the world's leading business cultures. It also includes a scenario based e-learning program that develops some of the core intercultural skills for managing and working internationally. There’s also a new cultural exchange feature to share information with a community of cultural experts in over 60 countries.
• The Intercultural Business Centre has recently launched a series of online cultural tools including the Cultural World Map, a three-dimensional map that illustrates the "Software of the Mind" of diverse people around the world; the Global Business Competency (GBC) Test, an on-line assessment test designed to measure your competency in multicultural business situations.
•! provides a series of country-specific reports developed by International Cultural Enterprises, Inc. and leading experts in international business from around the world. The reports focus on international business etiquette, international business manners, international business customs and protocol.
• Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands is an innovative e-learning tool created by a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies, which empowers people to open borders, minds, and markets in more than 60 countries around the world.

5. Blogs: you can even start a conversation with some of the voices out there sharing their interest and expertise in intercultural business and communication:
• Brisbane-based Mark Coburn’s Interpersonal communication blog is a fresh source of useful interpersonal communication tips for small business owners and anyone interested in achieving successful communication outcomes.
• Intercultural business consultants RW-3 share their thoughts in a blog about cross-cultural awareness, enhancing cross-cultural business skills, and enabling global and virtual team collaboration.

6. And for a bit of educational fun, how about a game of Barnga? Participants in this game are exposed to cultural differences when they move from their group to another group who appears to be playing the same game but has different rules. The differences among groups are subtle, but they hinder a person’s ability to function in the new group. Participants are led to the realization that, in spite of surface similarities, people from other cultures have different ways of doing things. In the end, you need to be able to reconcile these differences to function effectively in a cross-cultural group. It’s an excellent exercise in the realities of intercultural business communication.
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