Multi-National Corporate Learning LO18059

Tom Christoffel (
Sun, 10 May 1998 23:24:29 -0400 (EDT)

LO Folk:

Ths Sunday Washington Post has an intersting article "Going Global: A
World of Difference: DaimlerCrysler Joins Growing List of Titans That Must
Find New Ways to Compete" by Martha M. Hamilton.

The article begins with the DC merger and goes on to talk about global
companies. Examples are given from ABB - Asea Brown Boberi Ltd.; Ford,
DuPont Co. and Sony.

ABB operates in 128 nations and "... has adopted a common language- 'not
English, but broken English," according to Goran Lindahl, president and
CEO. He said it is important to make sure that no one is embarrassed into
not communicating by "his bad English."

Lindahl engaged the Maccoby Group of Washington in 1989 to help ABB
understand how values, styles and cultures differed from country to
country. Maccoby reported on the differences they fournd among Swiss,
Swedes, Germans and Americans, the manufacturing sites for the company
products. Employees had sharply contrasting working relationships.

"In sweden, tremendous amounts of engergy are put into creating concensus,
with people meeting weekends and off site to get to know each other so
that everyone will go along with the decisions being made."

"The Germans consider that a lack of integrity. They consider that meeting
someone off site would cloud the objectivity of making decisions based on
scientific evidence."

In Switzerland, workplace culture is shaped by the country's universal
military service--where corporate managers may be subordinate to workers
they supervise on the job. That creates a very democratic, respectful

Of the U.S., Maccoby said "...there is more emphasis on autonomy, less
cooperation and a politicized workplace where people tend to align
themselves with the boss." (This a most interesting point re: the issue of
competition & cooperation on this list.)

The toughtest problem for the companies is "managing human resources in a
way that turns cultural and national difference from a liability into a

I don't know how many of you have access to this paper. I'm not a quick
enough keyboardist to enter the whole thing. They do have a website:

[Host's Note: Save the typing... Reproducing the whole thing wouldn't be
sporting. ... Rick]

Tom Christoffel


Tom Christoffel <>

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