Think Local, Act Global

by Ange Teo - Date: 2006-12-21 - Word Count: 313 Share This!

Any observant professional would have now been aware of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank's advertisements that touted it as "the world's local bank". The pictorial display of intimate knowledge of local customs of countries where they operate is very impressive.

Organizations with subsidiaries around the globe know the pitfalls of not observing appropriate behaviour when dealing with the locals of their various markets. Losing their market share without implementing effective measures is one of the unfortunate consequences.

Moreover, it is a common fallacy to presume that all Asians share exact same mentality, practices and religion because they all look the same. Anyone who never interacts with people other than their own naturally makes such assumptions, which will lead to unnecessary stereotyping and prejudices.

Henceforth, it is a company's responsibility to ensure that their expatriate staff acquire the sensitivity, understanding, knowledge and intelligence before they are tasked to liaise with or work directly with the locals - be they employees, business associates or customers.

It cannot be denied though that there are a few common threads that the various Asian societies share. For example, the hierarchical structure of a typical Asian management which defers to the head of the company - who has the final say in a decision or may be a mere figurehead. Or, the theory of Feng Shui that [almost] every ethnic Chinese and subcontinent North Indian - and increasingly Western - businessman takes to heart.

Thus, it is imperative to know not only what motivates the Asian person from a particular society at work; but also the how's, why's and when's to make an approach to a negotiation. Or even a commitment to honour a contract that may take months to conclude.

Besides the obvious competitive advantage that ultimately leads to market leadership; the Returns on Investments benefit the company in the long run too if they make the effort to recognise and adapt accordingly to different Asian environments.

Related Tags: local customs, global outlook, appropriate cultural behaviors, dealing with asians, working with asians

Multi-ethnic and polyglot Ange Teo is the Founder-Managing Director of e2m expat etiquette mentoring, a Singapore-based Cross-Cultural Communications Solutions Provider.

Having worked with some of the world's leading Multinational Companies and Singapore-based Small Medium Enterprises for over 20 years; Ange Teo specialises in the areas of Information Technology, Secretarial/Administration, and Human Resources specifically Executive Search / Headhunting.

For more information about e2m Cultural Intelligence [CQ]-focused Communications Solutions, please visit

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