Cultural profiling and a Chinese experience

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Purpose: This paper aims to analyze the effectiveness of cultural profiling tools in predicting and identifying potential cultural pitfalls and challenges that the executive could encounter during an interaction with an individual or group from a different national culture. The initial analysis is based on the author’s experience in China. Over a two-year period and as part of the wider strategy to implement account management principles within the local sales teams across China, the strategy and sales development team (composed of two Chinese nationals lead by a Spanish/USA experienced expatriate/author) engaged senior members of the sales team through a series of workshops. Design/methodology/approach: Despite the top management support and the alignment of the program with the organizational culture of the company, the coaching program had limited success. Using a past experience in China and as part of a preliminary study on cultural profiling models available to executives, professors and students exposed to global environments, the author reviewed three popular cultural models to potentially identify sources of conflict, cultural gaps and misalignments between individual culture and the national cultures. Findings: The paper found that culture profiling tools could have a guiding value for executives and other individuals visiting a different culture, as it identified potential sources of conflict and pitfalls to avoid. Originality/value: The paper offered a fresh look at proliferating culture profiling tools.

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