Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Original found Here

Anyone who works across cultures is faced with a dilemma. What is the meaning of what I see? What seems self-evident often is not. What I sees depends on how I look at it. Have you read Carl Sanburg’s poem, Elephants are Different to Different People? In the poem, Wilson, Pilcer, and Snack see the elephant differently. We may not ascribe wholesale to the theory of Jacques Derrida that everything depends on interpretation. My real world experiences tell me differently. The grocery store on North Union Boulevard, three city blocks from my home, is there every time I go to it.

At the same time, there is common sense to Derrida’s Theory. Data is always interpreted within a theoretical framework. A handshake as a greeting with a woman from the south of India is not appropriate. But, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin among German immigrants, it expresses a degree of courtesy. However, in Venice, Italy it may seem cold. The context makes the difference. And, more specifically, the story history in a local context gives meaning to the facts. The story history is the theoretical framework.

If a student from Africa in an online program of study block copies from a textbook without citing the source, is it plagiarism?* If a businessman from Mumbai, India does not follow through on a Letter of Agreement is it a breach of contract?** What is the meaning behind the Spanish saying, “Mucho gre gre para decir Gregorio”?***
When you work across cultures do you interpret facts correctly? Global Perspectives Consulting can help.
*The answer relates to a worldview assumption regarding time and space. There are fivecategories of worldview assumptions: (a) self, (b) other, (c) the relationship between self and other, (d) time and space, and (e) causality.
**Multiple cultural dimensions may be at play: high context communication, ascribed status, relationships, and/or “face” saving.
***This relates to high context communication.

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