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World Business Cultures - A Handbook

This book provides a framework for understanding any culture in the world, offering strategies and tactics for getting people from different countries on your side, and detailing the knowledge you need to make the right impression and avoid giving offence.


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The latest edition of World Business Cultures – A Handbook shows readers how to create connections and win deals in global business, rather than committing clumsy and costly faux pas. It shows the reader how to assess and understand the business customs and thinking of other countries and customs, and how to mould your approach to achieve rapport and trust.

With this book, you’ll never get the tone of a presentation, negotiation or social meeting wrong again. It gives guidance on how to handle yourself in person-to-person situations, and in the digital world.

Warning: Not understanding different cultures could lose you business and money!

The book contains the following tools and checklists:
  • The ECOLE system of understanding cultures
    • Expectations
    • Communication
    • Organisation
    • Leadership
    • Etiquette
  • The Communication Framework
  • RADAR system
  • 80/20 principle
  • Source guide: websites and other books

Read Barry Tomalin’s Q&A session on the latest edition of ‘World Business Cultures – A Handbook’

This training course is part of our collection of Leadership & Management Training Courses which focus on leadership, innovation, strategy, communication, finance, problem solving and conflict management, to name a few key areas.


CMI Book Awards 2010: see the shortlist entry here
As the author of Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Guide to Building Trust, Inspiring Respect, and Creating Long-Lasting Business Relationships, I struggled long and hard with the best way to organize a book covering 11 countries and a wealth of intercultural information. Which is why I heartily congratulate Barry Tomalin and Mike Nicks on the clear, well-signposted, and easy-to-read structure of World Business Cultures.”

Covering 12 of the most important business cultures on the world stage today, this handbook begins by giving the reader a thorough grounding in the concept of culture which—as Barry and Mike point out in Chapter One—is all about perception. As I discovered while conducting my own research, the way we (US Americans) see the world is not universal: Expectations, Communication, and Behavior (or Management Style) are unique to each culture”.

These are three of the seven tools that readers will find valuable for understanding where to look for cultural differences and how to navigate them effectively. The authors refer to these seven tools as RADAR because of their value in enabling anyone to instantly tune into what it is about their own attitudes and behavior that may need modification. (RADAR is an acronym for Recognize you have a problem; Analyze it using the RADAR profile; Decide the 20% change you wish to make; Act-write it down and try it; Review it. Did it work?)

Whether you need advice on presentations to an international audience, running international meetings, or leading an international team — you will find “gold” and much more in this wonderful resource.”

Any global business traveler committed to building relationships, establishing trust and earning respect in the international arena is well advised to add this updated third edition to their library. Not only is it in mine, but is highlighted already because I refer to it so much! Sharon Schweitzer.”

Sharon Schweitzer J.D, InterCultural & Global Business Etiquette Consultant, Also posted on Amazon

The most practically helpful book.”

Andrew May, Category Judge CMI Book Awards 2010

Having travelled fairly widely myself, I found it easy to agree with the insights of the authors, and the book offers a good general guide to worldwide diversity and cultural issues in a general buslness sense.”

John Haycox, Reviewer, CMI Book Awards 2010

All MBA graduates will love this book – it’s a no-nonsense, systematic and practical book, written with such a pristine style of logic and rationality that it leaves you at times spell-bound.Peppered with many anecdotes and stories, it zeroes in brilliantly on the potential cultural mishaps that the somewhat parochial and ethnocentric reader could fall into. Or as the authors expressed clearly in the foreword, the book is for the “harassed, overworked and nervous” business person waiting in the airport lounge and doesn’t know why something is not right with a client in a foreign country.So, while on the plane, the reader is able to “unlock” some of the mysteries of cross-cultural encounters that should provide solutions and more importantly, a sense of relief. Interculturalist Tomalin and journalist Nicks have done their homework thoroughly – they have put together a compendium of cross – cultural information that covers almost every point you need to know to succeed in today’s fast moving world. Bottom line: the ideal gift for the business person on the run who wishes to remain on the run.”

Patrick Schmidt, Dia Delta Intercultural Academy, April 2010

Spectacular merger collapses prove that a one-style-fits-all approach to business is not enough to succeed. Failure to understand cultural differences can prove costly. (Remember the break-up of Germany’s Daimier and Chrysler of the US).’

Tomalin and Nicks show how understanding culture can improve performance. Sprinkled with colourful anecdotes, The World’s Business Cultures offers sound advice on meetings and negotiations, as well as decision-making, gift-giving and writing e-mails.’

Although it has chapters on countries forecast to the world’s leading economies in 2050, such as India, China and Brazil, the book also warns that we can get it wrong even when dealing with our neighbours.’

Claire Barron, Financial Times

Tomalin and Nicks is a must read for business travelers who want to successfully compete in world markets. More than a collection of cultural do’s and don’ts, it offers clear, practical and comprehensive guidelines for establishing and maintaining successful business relationships in the multicultural marketplace.’

Susan Stempleski, Lecturer, Graduate Program in TESOL Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, USA

A no-nonsense, systematic and practical book for business people and students of business everywhere. The short country profiles are especially useful and to the point.’

Ulla Ladau-Harjulin, FRSA, Lecturer in Intercultural Communication, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, Finland

Nicks and Tomalin offer more than just helpful insights into different cultures. For this experienced traveller, WORLD BUSINESS CULTURES is also a guide to good behaviour based not on travellers’ tales but on principles which I can apply in many situations.’

Emeritus Professor Jack Lonergan, President of the International Certificate Conference

This book is more than just helpful insights into different cultures. It is a systematic and practical book for business people and students everywhere. A must read for business people who want to successfully compete in world markets.’

Business Executive Magazine

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Part One

Chapter 1: Culture is about perception

  • Trust is the key
  • Build trust with rapport and credibility
  • The TRUST triangle
  • Multinational corporations: one size fits all
  • Isn’t it all about stereotypes?
  • When do you need culture?
  • Three ingredients of culture
  • What are their expectations?
  • How do they communicate?
  • How do they behave?
  • RADAR Five Alive
  • Don’t forget the fun

Chapter 2: What do they expect?

  • Where do our expectations come from?
  • Cultural fears
  • As for business, so for etiquette
  • Tool 1: RADAR Expectations

Chapter 3: Why international communication goes wrong – and how to get it right

  • Communication networks
  • Communication flows
  • Communication styles
  • Tool 2: RADAR Communication Styles
  • Does language matter?
  • Using English
  • Tool 3: The RADAR Use of English – six rules

Chapter 4: How to make an international presentation

  • Attention spans
  • Shall we start?
  • How to get your message across – the Three S structure

Chapter 5: How to run international meetings

  • Timing
  • Punctuality is relative
  • Types of meetings
  • Who runs the meeting?
  • Attitude to agendas
  • Who sits where?
  • Who speaks, who keeps quiet?
  • Dealing with interruptions
  • Meetings outcomes
  • Translators and interpreters
  • Simultaneous translation
  • Virtual meetings
  • Advice on video conference calls
  • How to manage a meeting

Chapter 6: How to negotiate internationally

  • The pitfalls of negotiation across cultures
  • Using interpreters
  • Status

Chapter 7: What not to do and what not to say

  • Formality and informality
  • Gift-giving
  • Hospitality
  • Who pays?
  • Entertaining at home
  • A word about superstition
  • What not to say
  • Ice-breakers and ice-makers
  • Cultural fault lines

Chapter 8: Working in international teams

  • ‘Team think’ or ‘me think’?
  • Team players or family players?
  • Fusion projects – the inclusive team
  • Forming, storming, norming and performing
  • You say tomato and I say tomato
  • Individualism vs collectivism
  • Team integration and team alienation
  • Forming a new team
  • Who’s running the team?
  • Team process
  • Leadership and consultation
  • Risk-embracing or risk-averse
  • How does the team produce results?
  • What is the solution?
  • Remote teams and virtual distributed teams

Chapter 9: International management styles

  • Tool 4: RADAR Management Styles
  • Tool 5: The RADAR Profile
  • Tool 6: The RADAR System

Chapter 10: Going away and coming back

  • Relocation
  • Hardship posts
  • Security
  • Tom’s tips
  • Culture shock
  • The honeymoon
  • How culture shock manifests
  • Coping strategies
  • Adaptation
  • Integration
  • Repatriation
  • What the HR director can do to help
  • What happens if it all goes wrong?

Part Two: Market profiles

  • Tool 7: ECOLE
  • Arabian Gulf
  • Brazil
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • The United Kingdon (UK)
  • The Unitied States of America (USA)

Mike Nicks
Media Ideas

Mike Nicks is a journalist and a media and communications coach. He has worked on the launch or development of more than 30 magazines and newspapers in Britain, France, the USA and Australia, including titles as diverse as Nursing Times in London, the one-million selling Motor Trend in California, FHM in Paris, and the surfing monthly Tracks in Sydney.

He trains journalists in leadership, editing and writing techniques, and helps business people to communicate in effective English. He is a consultant with PMA Training, Britain’s largest media coaching organization, and International House Cultural Training in London. He contributes to The Guardian, The Independent and The Observer newspapers, is passionate about languages and world business cultures, and speaks Spanish and French as well as his native English.

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Barry Tomalin

Barry Tomalin is Director of Cultural Training at International House in London, one of the largest language and cultural training organisations in the world, and Visiting Lecturer in Cross-cultural Communication at the University of Westminster. He is the author of many books and monographs on culture and has trained in 65 countries.

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ISBN 9781854188120
274 pages

  • GBP 6.99 +VAT

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at Amazon UK


ISBN 9781854188113
266 pages

  • GBP 18.99

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at Amazon UK