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When Can Adaptability Slip Into Compromise?

Posted in International Management on November 13, 2012
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How do you balance your approach to cultural norms without losing site of your objectives?


It is so important to understand cultural norms, not just to fit in, but to appreciate how you must adapt your approach in order to achieve your objectives.  This is not an easy task.  Cultural attitudes and practices can sometimes negate your objectives making adaptability an international management skill you can't afford to ignore.  There must be a balance however.  Problems can arise when adaptability leads not only to compromising your rules, but compromising your results.


Here are a few international business situations... 

Which examples show Adaptability & which Compromise your objective?

  • Allowing end of month reports to take a little longer than the standard 8-day buffer zone because that’s the way we do it here.
  • Accepting that process gaps are occurring because we know ‘they’ don’t have an eye for detail.
  • Accepting that paperwork may not always be complete because completion is not a part of the psyche.
  • Driving forward strategically, without full understanding as ‘this is the first time they've been exposed to structure’.


How would you handle these issues to ensure your results are not compromised? 

What other real world experiences can you share where you had to balance between adaptability and compromise?

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Have you ever made assumptions based on your own culture that led to embarrassing moments overseas?