|Eurasian Land Bridge|
Christina Witte von Schwanenberg M.A. EU Project Consultant
EU DEVELOPMENT PROJECT: EUROASIAN LANDBRIDGE & THE WITTE SYSTEM: "SILK ROUTES"
The Eurasian Land-Bridge is one of the most important strategic question of today because the success of the economic integration of Eurasia to technological base will determine our future.
An idea called “the Eurasian Land-Bridge concept”, was initially presented in the 1860s by Henry C. Carey in U.S.A the economist who was also a partner of President Abraham Lincoln. Carey proposed that the lessons of Europe and the United States in opening up the western lands from the Atlantic to the Pacific and then similarly in Europe, via railroad development corridors, be utilized throughout Eurasia. This policy, presented by Carey was adopted in Germany, France and was also spread into Russia, China, and others (…) That was the so-called “Land-Bridge program” (…) where all agreed on the development of railway corridors.
Nowadays the term Eurasian Land Bridge is used to describe the rail transport route for moving freight and/or passengers overland from Pacific seaports in eastern Russia and mainland China to seaports in Europe The rail links offer the potential to greatly shorten the distances and reduce transit times between countries and regions and railways could become a tool to trade expansion and economic growth. There are three major rail connections over Eurasian continent, the northern route comprises the Trans-Siberian Railway - the First Eurasian Land-bridge which runs through Russia. The central route, Second Eurasian Land Bridge, runs through Kazakhstan to China. The southern route goes through Turkey and Iran and is called the historic Silk Route and is the oldest caravan route to China. Eurasian Land-Bridge connect the 500 million people of Europe, and 4 billion people in East Asia and Southeast Asia. About 1% of the goods shipped from Asia to Europe each year were delivered by inland transport routes.
Eurasian Land-Bridge & the Witte System: “Silk Routes” is a research focusing on how railway transport - extensive interconnected network of trade and transit routes - could become a tool for trade expansion and economic growth.
According to the former President of the European Commission José Manuel Durão Barosso from the fragments of his speech held in European Parliament 28th of September 2011 in Strasbourg titled “European renewal – State of the Union Address 2011.
“...Economic outlook that we face is very difficult. We are confronted with the negative effects of an ongoing global re-assessment of risks. It is therefore our responsibility to rebuild confidence and trust in the euro and our Union as a whole.” (…) “And we can do this by showing that we are able to take all the decisions needed to run a common currency and an integrated economy in a competitive, inclusive and resource-efficient way. For this we need to act in the short, in the medium and the long term.” (…) “Stability and responsibility are not enough on their own. We need stability but we also need growth. We need responsibility but we also need solidarity.”(…) “The economy can only remain strong if it delivers growth and jobs.” (…) “But significant growth in Europe is not an impossible dream. It will not come magically tomorrow. But we can create the conditions for growth to resume. We have done it before. We must and we can do it again.” In a competitive world we must be also well-educated with skills to face these new challenges. We must innovate. And we must act in a sustainable way. (…)
Sustainable jobs will come if we focus on innovation and new technologies including green technologies. We must see that “green” and growth go together.” (….) “A Union of growth and solidarity needs modern, interconnected infrastructures. We have proposed for the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) to create a facility to connect Europe – in energy, in transport ..”
Back to the Eurasian Land-Bridge issue. Several nations are already participating in modernizing the existing transport lines, or building new railway lines. It is surprising how little information there has been delivered about Land-Bridge and few of us have ever heard or read anything about this item even though the project has been for some time underway? What about international business? Which firms are participating in the Land-Bridge project?
There should be more visible reference to the articles concerning this subject in scientific journals or in the Economist. Regular references on Eurasian Land-Bridge in different organ of the mainstream press are missing. There shouldn’t be any difficulties to find exact data on this subject which has been claimed to be of “world historic importance”. It is obvious that there is lack of information and we find it necessary to fill in the gaps.
According to our view sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Europe could be obtained only through cheaper transportation costs which increase foreign trade to expanding Asian markets with prosperous costumers. It is important to keep in mind that Europe’s economy functions only if it concentrates on continuous progress in science and technology (Helga Zepp-LaRoche, Schiller Institute U.S.A). Economic recession could stop through cheaper transportation costs, which in turn raise export and deliver more growth and jobs. It is obvious that improved intermodal land bridge services not just save time and costs for container traffic and make export cheaper, but is probably the only way out of recession. And what about Asia? The railway development corridors open up the vast hinterlands of Asia which is the area of the largest population growth in the next century and transport lines make it possible to transport many more goods to the area in the near future.
The research focuses on how to improve the intermodal land bridge services for the container traffic in a short period of time? Following facts help to understand the “land bridge” issue which should probably be included in Europe’s new strategy, based on an enhanced coordination of economic policies, in order to deliver more growth and jobs.
1. Why for time being such a small proportion only 1 percentage of total container traffic between Europe and Asia is transported by intermodal land bridge services? 2. How the container volume transported by intermodal land bridge services between Europe and Asia could be increased? 3. How to reach efficiency, cost reduction and time saving in the container traffic? 4. How to get the land bridge countries overcome political, economic and ideological differences and start to collaborate in order to achieve efficiency and cost reduction.
The study discusses these issues from different angles and suggests that Eurasian land bridge could become the straightest, fastest and most cost effective trade route between Europe and Asia”. It has the required infrastructure to provide efficient land bridge services. It is obvious that the further development of Eurasian Land Bridge is fundamental for the Europe’s economy since EU economy functions only if it concentrates on continuous progress in science and technology and has access to expanding Asian markets with prosperous customers (Helga Zepp-LaRoche, Schiller Institute U.S.A). EU’ could probably consider to include the Land-Bridge issue in its strategy 2020. The construction of Eurasian Land Bridge could become the cornerstone of a global reconstruction of the world economy (Schiller Institute U.S.A). According to Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, – Trade Policy as a core component of the EU’s 2020 strategy [COM(2010) 612 “Over the last two years, we (European countries)) have faced the world's worst economic crisis since the 1930s. This crisis has reversed much of the progress achieved since 2000. We are now facing excessive levels of debt, sluggish structural growth, and high unemployment. The economic situation is improving, but the recovery is still fragile. Restoring macroeconomic stability and returning public finances on a sustainable path are prerequisites for growth and jobs.”
Presenting a “railway approach: the Witte System” which caused a “phenomenal upswing” in economy. The “system” based on extensive railroad construction which stimulated the growth of the metallurgical and fuel industries supplying rails and other equipment. In turn, the expansion of the heavy industries created favorable conditions for the growth of the light industries. Railway construction served as a flywheel for the entire economy. The “railway approach” created a demand to build a railway transit system between Europe and Asia, the Trans-Siberian Land-Bridge, which intended to produce more rapid and cheaper railway communication and become a global means of transit, on which the exchange of goods between West and East would have to flow
eveloped scheme bases on the “railway approach” the Witte System in Modern Business” it aims efficiency, cost reduction and time saving in the railway traffic between Europe and Asia. The main dilemma remains - the Land Bridge countries have to overcome political, economic and ideological differences and start to collaborate in order to achieve competitive logistical solutions. The working tool offered is intercultural communication, which is often referred to as the base for international business. Establishment of an international business platform to facilitate a dialogue between different countries and regions as well as professional groups: government officials, railway authorities, politicians, business circles, entrepreneurs etc. New business opportunities will arise when we are able to define common rules for modernization of railway lines and infrastructure on Eurasian Land-Bridge. This delivers more growth and jobs as it is presented in the "Europe 2020: a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
EURASIAN LAND BRIDGE & THE WITTE SYSTEM
An idea called “the Eurasian Land Bridge conception”, was initially presented in the 1860s by Henry C. Carey in U.S.A, the economist who was also a partner of President Abraham Lincoln. And, Carey proposed that the lessons of Europe and the United States in opening up the western lands from the Atlantic to the Pacific and then similarly in Europe, through railroad development corridors, be utilized throughout Eurasia from the Atlantic to the Pacific and to the Indian Ocean, to accomplish similar results in Eurasia.
This policy, presented by Carey was adopted by important circles in Germany and was also spread into Russia, into China, and others (…) That is, the so-called “Land Bridge program” of certain French interests associated with Sadi Carnot, the President of France (…) with Gabriele Hanotaux, the Foreign Minister (…), with Count Sergei Witte of Russia (see the political genealogy) as well as with circles around the Chinese movement of Sun Yat-sen in China, (…) were all agreed on the development of railway development corridors. Not just railroad tracks: but railroad development corridors, such as (…) in the United States, in developing the western lands of the United States, through railway corridors; that that must be done throughout Asia. (The Schiller Institute, The Eurasian land bridge, Locomotive to world-development, speech transcript Feb. 5, 1997: World peace through World Development, with LaRouche's Eurasian Land Bridge Development Project Washington DC).
EURASIAN LAND BRIDGE 9112 KM AND EAST CHINESE RAILWAY “NEW SILK ROAD” 2400 KM BY SERGEI WITTE
Sergei Witte wrote in 1902:
“Joining Europe and Asia by a continuous rail connection, that road becomes a global means of transit, on which the exchange of goods between West and East will have to flow. (…) with this great steam-propelled transit system producing more rapid and cheaper communication, and exchange of goods, enter into closer relations with Europe, a market, with a developed manufacturing culture, and thereby create a greater demand there for the raw materials of the East.”
“Thanks to the Siberian Rail Road, (…) European know-how, and capital will find for itself an extensive new field of employment for the exploration and development of the natural riches of the Eastern nations.” Count Sergei Witte
The Siberian railroad, was Sergei Witte’s largest and most impressive project. As director of Railway Affairs in 1889 he was the first manager of the Siberian railroad construction project and was personally responsible for carrying out the enormously challenging undertaking. In 1901 the great venture had been accomplished according to the plan. It took ten and half years to build the longest railroad line in the world and establish the first rail connection between Europe and Asia 9112 km. taking the fastest train, one could now travel from Moscow to Vladivostok in thirteen days (von Laue U.S.A. 1969).
It was Sergei Witte who proposed that the last part of the Trans-Siberian Railroad should go straight through Manchuria, East Chinese Railroad 2400 km, thus bringing China into this Eurasian development. (The Schiller Institute, Bad Schwalbach Conference “How to Reconstruct a Bankrupt World”, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the Eurasian Land Bridge Concept, the Answer to the Strategic Crisis, 21-23.3.2003, Washington DC)
East Chinese Railroad was sort of a “New Silk Road” designed by Sergei Witte.
EURASIAN LAND BRIDGE AN CHINA “NEW SILK ROAD”
It was in 1990 when China linked its rail system to the Trans-Siberian via Kazakhstan and called its uninterrupted rail link between the Chinese port city of Lianyungang and Kazakhstan the New Eurasian Land Bridge OR THE SECOND EURASIAN LAND BRIDGE. The route includes China's east-west railways which, in addition to the Beijing line, are the Longhai Railway and the Lanxin railway… In 1995 the Chinese and Kazakhstan governments signed an agreement which allows the latter to use Lianyungang as its primary seaport for exports and imports. China intends for Lianyungang to serve as the designated starting point for the “New Silk Road” or the New Eurasian Land Bridge.
In 1896, the Eurasian Land Bridge conference in Beijing, defined the Eurasian Land Bridge as the strategic long-term policy for the Chinese government (The Schiller Institute 2003)
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT EURASIAN LAND BRIDGE?
Today the term Eurasian Land Bridge is used to describe the rail transport route for moving freight and/or passengers overland from Pacific seaports in eastern Russia and mainland China to seaports in Europe. The route comprises the Trans-Siberian Railway the First Eurasian Land bridge, which runs through Russia (Northern East-West Corridor).
The New Eurasian Land Bridge or Second Eurasian Continental Bridge runs through Kazakhstan to China. During November 2007, about 1% of the $600 billion in goods shipped from Asia to Europe each year were delivered by inland transport routes.
And today? How is information about the EURASIAN LAND BRIDGE delivered? How is the media informing about this mega project? The answer is, not satisfactory. It is surprising how little information has been delivered about this “mega project” and few of us have ever heard or read anything about this project even though it has been for some time underway. Many countries as for example Kazakhstan, China, Korea, Turkey, India, Myanmar etc. are participating in this world wide land bridge project, which is clamed to be “a mega project of world historic importance. Although regular references on Eurasian Land Bridge project in different organ of the mainstream press are missing. Studying the subject some may ask are the Eurasian Land Bridge and the Asian Highway the same things?
What about international business? Which firms are working on Land Bridge or Trans-Asian Highway project? There should be more visible reference to the articles concerning this project in scientific journals or in the Economist. References on this project on the People's Republic of China are very few or missing. The situation is same on China's state news agencies. There shouldn’t be any difficulties to find exact data on this mega project which has been claimed to have “world historic importance”. It is obvious that there is lack of information concerning particularly Eurasian Land Bridge. More precise information is necessary and probably establishment of a website following the development of Eurasian land bridge should be desirable.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT TRANS-ASIAN HIGHWAY?
The Trans-Asian Railway consists of rail links between the countries of South and Southeast Asia and Central Asia
The Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) was initiated in the 1960s with the objective of providing a continuous 14,000-km rail line between Singapore and Istanbul (Turkey), with possible onward connections to Europe and Africa. The link offered the potential to greatly shorten the distances and reduce transit times between countries and regions, while being a catalyst for the notions of international transport as a tool to trade expansion, economic growth and cultural exchange. Given the extent of that territory covered, the differences in standards in the levels of technical development between railways in the region, ESCAP adopted a step-by-step approach in define the TAR network. http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/index.asp?MenuName=The
EUROPE 2020: A NEW EUROPEAN STRATEGY FOR JOBS AND GROWTH
Structural reforms are essential for a strong and sustainable recovery and for preserving the sustainability of our social models. Jobs and social welfare are at stake. If we do not act Europe will lose ground. The European Council's responsibility is to show the way ahead. The EU needs a new strategy, based on an enhanced coordination of economic policies, in order to deliver more growth and jobs. "Europe 2020: is a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
The Commission presents the strategy which should enable the European Union (EU) to achieve growth that is:
RAILWAY APPROACH: STRATEGY FOR JOBS AND GROWTH
Seen from today’s perspective more effective use of international railway communication or intermodal land bridge services, could become the cornerstone of a global reconstruction of the world economy. (The Eurasian Land Bridge: The most important strategic question of today by Helga Zepp-LaRoche in speech transcript, Feb. 5, 1997, Schiller Institute Washington DC)
THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RAILROADS BETWEEN EUROPE AND ASIA
The Eurasian land bridge has the required infrastructure to provide efficient land bridge services for container traffic in trade between Europe and Asia.
1. Why for time being such a small proportion only 1 percentage of total container traffic between Europe and Asia is transported by railways or intermodal land bridge services?
2. How the container volume transported by railways or intermodal land bridge services between Europe and Asia could be increased?
3. How to reach efficiency, cost reduction and time saving in the railway container traffic?
4. How to get the land bridge countries overcome political, economic and ideological differences and start to collaborate in order to achieve efficiency, cost reduction and time saving?
IMPROVE DIALOGUE BETWEEN DIFFERENT CULTURES AND NATIONS THROUGH INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION
THE BASE FOR INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSES
-> which is a form of global communication. It is used to describe the wide range of communication problems that naturally appear within an organization made up of individuals from different religious, social, ethnic, and educational backgrounds. Intercultural communication is sometimes used synonymously with cross-cultural communication. In this sense it seeks to understand how people from different countries and cultures act, communicate and perceive the world around them. As a separate notion, it studies situations where people from different cultural backgrounds interact. Aside from language, intercultural communication focuses on social attributes, thought patterns, and the cultures of different groups of people. It also involves understanding the different cultures, languages and customs of people from other countries. Intercultural communication plays a role in anthropology, cultural studies, linguistics, psychology and communication studies (see the picture below).
Intercultural communication is also referred to as the base for international businesses. There are several cross cultural service providers around who can assist with the development of intercultural communication skills. Intercultural communication principles guide the process of exchanging meaningful and unambiguous information across cultural boundaries, in a way that preserves mutual respect and minimizes antagonism. For these purposes, culture is a shared system of symbols, beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms of behavior. It refers to coherent groups of people whether resident wholly or partly within state territories, or existing without residence in any particular territory.
-> ONE’S OUTLOOK – ONE’S WORLD VIEW
Self-criticism, avoidance of irritants and stress, more accurate assessment of the individual, tact, tolerance, adaption without sacrificing one’s integrity, substantial study of our partner’s culture, history and language – all these are resources to be drawn on when cultures collide
LAND BRIDGE COUNTREIS: EUROPE – EURASIA - ASIA
THE CATEGORIZATION OF CULTURES
LINEAR-ACTIVE – Protestant Scandinavians, Catholic Swiss, black and white Americans, Semitic Israelis, and rich and poor Australians.
– people to be task oriented, highly organized planners, who complete actions chains by doing one thing at a time, preferably in accordance with a linear agenda. They prefer straight forward and direct discussions, depending on facts and figures they obtain from reliable, often printed or computer-based sources. Speech is for information exchange and conversations take turns talking and listening. Truthful rather than diplomatic, linear-active do not fear confrontation, adhering to logic, rather than emotions. They partly conceal feelings and value a certain amount of privacy. Results are key, as is moving forward quickly and compromising when necessary to achieve a deal.
Linear-active believe that good products make their own way and sometimes fail to see that sales are based on relationships in many parts of the world. They normally use official channels to pursue their aims and are usually not inclined to use connections, take shortcuts, or influence opinions through presents or undercover payments. Normally law-abiding, linear-actives have faith in rules and regulations to guide their conduct.
Their honor written contracts and do not unduly delay payment for goods or services received. When doing business, they are keen on punctual performance, quality, and reliable delivery dates. Mańana behavior and over loquacity are frowned upon. They are process oriented, brief on the telephone, and respond quickly to written communication. Status is gained through achievements, bosses are often low-key, and money is important. Rationalism and science dominate thinking more than religious does.
SOUTH-AMERICA, RUSSIA AND AFRICA:
MULTI-ACTIVES – Latin’s, Slavs, or Africans,
- are emotional, loquacious, and impulsive people; they attach great importance to family, feelings, relationships, and people in general. They set great store by compassion and human warmth. They like to do many things at the same time and poor followers of agendas. Conversation is roundabout and animated as everyone tires to speak and listen at the same time. No surprisingly, interruptions are frequent, pauses in conversation few. Multi-actives are uncomfortable with silence and can seldom tolerate it. In business, relationships and connections are seen as more important than products. The former pave the way for the sale of the latter. Relationships are best when they are face-to-face; they cannot be maintained over a protracted period simply by written correspondence or phone calls, although, the former has less effect with multi-actives than the latter. They much prefer to obtain their information directly from people and trade in rumor and gossip. Multi-actives show less respect than linear-actives do for official announcements, rules, or regulations. Although they have limited respect for authority in general, they nevertheless accept their place in their own social or company hierarchy. Strong bosses are admired and are also expected to protect their employees. Multi-actives are often late with delivery dates and paying for services or goods received. Less interested in schedules or deadlines than linear-actives are, multi-actives often move only when they are ready. Therefore, procrastination is common, punctuality infrequent. Multi-actives´ concepts of time and discourse are decidedly nonlinear, and they fail to understand the importance that timetables have for linear-active people. Multi-actives are flexible and frequently change their plans, which in themselves are not as detailed as those of linear-active. Improvisation and handling chaos are strong points. Multi-actives borrow and lend property rather freely. They are gregarious inquisitive, valuing privacy less than company. Often epicurean, they adhere less to strict Protestant values than linear-actives do. In business, they use charisma, rhetoric, manipulation, and negotiated truth. They are diplomatic and tactful and often circumvent laws and officialdom to take “shortcuts”. They entertain lavishly and give presents or undercover payments to secure deals and contracts.
REACTIVES - or listeners, Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese are Confucian reactives, but quiet Finns have many reactive characteristics, and Swedes and the British often react thoughtfully and unhurriedly to proposals from more aggressive cultures.
They rarely initiate action of discussion, preferring to first listen to and establish the other’s position, then react to it and formulate their own opinion. Reactives listen before they talk, leap, concentrating on what the speaker is saying and refusing to let their minds wander (difficult for Latin’s). Rarely, if ever, do they interrupt a speaker a discourse /speech /presentation. When the speaker is finished they do not reply immediately but leave a decent period of silence after the speaker has stopped in order to show respect for the weight of the remarks, which must be considered unhurriedly and with due deference.
Even when representatives of a reactive culture begin their reply, they are unlikely to voice any strong opinion immediately. A more probable tactic is to ask further questions on what has been said in order to clarify the speaker’s intent and aspirations.
The Japanese, particularly, go over each point in detail many times to make sure there are no misunderstandings. The Chinese take their time to assemble a variety of strategies to avoid discord with the initial proposal.
Reactives are introverts, distrustful of a surfeit of words and consequently are adept at nonverbal communication, which is achieved by subtle body languages. Reactions are worlds apart from the excitable gestures of Latin’s and Africans. In reactive cultures the preferred mode of communication is monologue – pause – reflection – monologue. If possible, one lets the other side deliver his or her monologue first. In linear-active and multi-active cultures, the communication mode is a dialogue. The person speaking may be interrupted by frequent comments, even questions, which signify polite interest in what is being said. As soon as the speaker pauses, someone else takes his or her turn immediately.
Many Westerners have an extremely weak tolerance for silence. Reactive not only tolerate silence well but regard it as very meaningful, almost refined, part of discourse. The opinion of the other party are not to be taken lightly, or dismissed with a snappy or flippant retort. Clever, well-formulated argument require – deserve – lengthy silent consideration. The American, having delivered a sales pitch, leans forward and says, well, what do you think?” If a reactive is asked for an opinion, he or she begins to think – in silence. The reactive “reply-monologue” is context centered and will presume a considerable amount of knowledge on the part of the listener (who, after all, probably spoke first). Because the listener is presumed to be knowledgeable. Japanese, Chinese, or Finnish interlocutors will often be satisfied with expressing their thoughts in half-utterance, indicating that the listener can fill in the rest. It is a kind of compliment. Reactives not only rely on utterances and partial statements to further the conversation, but they also indulge in other habits hat confuse the linear-active or multi-active. They use, for instance, a “roundabout” style, with impersonal verbs (one is leaving) or the passive voice (one of the machines seems to have been tampered with), either to deflect blame or with the general aim of politeness. As reactive cultures tend to use names less frequently than multi-active or linear-active ones do, the impersonal, vague nature of the discussion is further accentuated. Lack of eye contact, so typical of the reactive, does not help the situation. A Finn or a Japanese embarrassed by another’s stare, seeks eye contact only at the beginning of the discussion or when he wishes to signal the interlocutor to take up her turn in the conversation. Smalltalk does not come easily to reactives. While the Japanese and Chinese trot out well-tried formalisms to indicate courtesy, they tend to regard questions such as “Well, how goes it?” as a literal request for information and may take the opportunity to voice a complaint. On other occasions their overlong pauses or slow visible reactions cause nonreactives to think they are slowwitted or have nothing to say. It is always important to bear in mind that the actual content of the response delivered by a reactive represents only a small part of the significance surrounding the event. Context-oriented utterances inevitably attach less important to what is said than to how something is said, who said it, and what is behind what is said. What is not said may be the main thrust of the reply. Self-disparagement is another tactic of reactives; it eliminates the possibility of offending others. Such humility may draw the other person into praising one’s conduct or decisions. Linear-actives and multi-actives must be aware of presuming that self-disparagement is connected with a weak position. Richard D. Lewis: “The Cultural Imperative Global Trends in the 21st Century 2007 ISBN 13: 978-1-931930-35-2
- The inhabitants of any country possess certain core beliefs and assumptions of reality which will manifest themselves in their behavior. People in different cultures share basic concepts but view them from different angles and perspectives, leading them to behave in a manner which we may consider irrational or even in direct contradiction of what we hold sacred.
- By focusing on the cultural roots of national behavior, both in society and business we can foresee and calculate with a surprisingly degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us.
- A working knowledge of the basic traits of other cultures as well as our own will minimize unpleasant surprises - culture shock - give us insights in advance, and enable us to interact successfully with nationalities with whom we previously had difficulty.
- to acquire an orientation that enables us to set off in a certain direction to lessen the communication gap between ourselves and our partner. All of us are wrapped up in prejudice – subject to a natural dynamic of bias. We cannot proceed to an evaluation or judgment of another without starting with an acute sharpening of our own self-awareness. (…) (Richard D. Lewis: When Cultures Collide, London 1996) (Richard D. Lewis: The Cultural Imperative Global Trends 2007)).
TO IMPROVE DIALOGUE BETWEEN DIFFERENT CULTURES AND NATIONS
What is a cultural habitat? It is kind of “room” or “house” put together by a cultural group inside which one holds a plethora of beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions. Within those walls one behaves in a prescribed manner. By entering into that habitat, by following the “house rules” and sharing its assumptions during one’s stay there, the “visitor” can eliminate the phenomenon of cultural shock.
Why do people in the “house” behave as they do? To begin with, they are not free agents. They are restrained by attitudes inherited from origins long forgotten. The mind is a refuge for ideas dating from many centuries ago. One pays attention not only to the guidance of the family and peers, but also to the experiences of previous, more distant generations as passed on by culture. One should not underestimate the influence of that part of the past that is still alive in people’s minds today. The momentum of two thousand years is not easily stopped.
Shared mindset bashing is only one strategy for creating empathy and is only appropriate when a dominant player risks being accused of cultural imperialism. A surer entrée is gained by having a sound knowledge of the house rules and – even more important – by not misreading them. (…) Your cultural stance will have to change rapidly and drastically when (…) the house is entered by German or Japanese one. Chameleon-like behavior will be required. There is nothing immoral about this. You will retain your core beliefs and values. You are simply having new guests (…) and you are obeying their rules, which you have taken the trouble to learn. Thereby you gain not only their respect, but their liking. To make people like you should be one of the primary objectives of your approach to international business. It my well be that the American will do business with anyone who buys and sells good products, but Asians, Latin’s, Arabs, and Africans do business with people they like. Four-fifths of humanity put relationship before product. Linear-active cultures often have difficulty remembering this.
In the world of rapidly globalizing business, electronic proximity, and political-economic associations, the ability to interact successfully with foreign partners in the spheres of commercial activity, diplomatic intercourse, and scientific interchange is seen as increasingly essential and desirable. Cross-cultural training followed by international experience goes a long way toward facilitating better relationships and reducing misunderstanding. Ideally, the trainee acquires deepening insight into the target (partner’s) culture and adopts a cultural stance toward partner/colleague (through adaption) to fit suitably with the attitudes of the other.