Develop deeper cultural intelligence to thrive in a globalized world. Cultural DNA is a thought provoking book for successful engagement with cultures around the world. Written by Gurnek Bains, founder and chairman of a global business psychology consultancy, this book guides leaders through the essential soft skills required to get under the skin and engage an increasingly connected world. Presenting ground breaking original research and the latest evidence from neuroscience, behavioral genetics, and psychology, the deepest instincts of eight key global cultures are dissected. Readers will understand the psychological themes at play in regions such as the U.S., Latin America, Europe, China, India, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia. Additionally, an extensive database of 30,000 leaders provides insights to inform the reader. The book addresses questions such as: What are the challenges for leaders from different regions as they move into onto the global stage? Why are Americans so positive? Why is China a world leader in manufacturing and India in IT? Why do overseas firms struggle in the U.S. market place? What are the emotional forces driving current events in the Middle East? Each culture has attributes that developed over thousands of years to address unique environmental challenges. This DNA drumbeat from the past reverberates through each society affecting everything. As globalization marches on we can also learn important lessons from the world’s distinct societies. Globalization demands that cultures learn to work within each other's needs and expectations, and the right mix of people skills, business acumen, and cultural awareness is key. Business and Political leaders will understand how each regions’ cultural DNA influences: Its economic and political institutions. People’s underlying consumer psychology. The soft skills needed to lead in that environment. How to best release people’s potential. The issues that need to be managed to anticipate and solve problems before they arise Every now and again a new book comes along, that is a must read: Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point or a Seth Godin’s Tribes. Cultural DNA by Gurnek Bains, by virtue of its depth, originality and ambition, is that very book for all global leaders.
Acknowledgments vii Introduction ix The Psychology of the Eurozone Crisis x We Are Not All the Same and That Is Good xiv Unconscious Bias xvii Greater Similarity and Difference at the Same Time xix The Globalization Challenge for Business xxiii Defining Cultural DNA xxv A Word About the Evidence xxviii Why Bother with Differences? xxxi Chapter 1 America—The Change Makers 1 Founder Effects 3 The Peopling of America 4 Positivity 11 Embracing the New 17 Assimilation over Accommodation 20 Mammon: Tamed and Untamed 26 The Triumph of Functionality 32 Increasing Plurality 35 Looking Ahead 37 Chapter 2 Sub-Saharan Africa: Under Nature’s Shadow 41 How Modern Humans Populated Africa 43 Nature’s Crucible: The Forces Shaping Africa’s Cultural DNA 45 Community and Beyond 51 Naturalness: Expressed and Denied 55 In the Moment 60 Metaphor, Analogy, and the Connectedness of Things 67 The Big Man and His Alter Ego 72 Looking Ahead 78 Chapter 3 India: Beyond This World 81 The Peopling of India 82 The Toba Event 83 The Forces That Have Shaped India’s Cultural DNA 85 Ahimsa 87 Individual Paths 95 Inner Directedness 100 Horizontal Stratification 104 Mathematics: The Art of the Hindus 110 Ritualistic Thinking 114 Looking Ahead 119 Chapter 4 The Middle East: Ambivalence and Uncertainty in the Modern Age 121 How Modern Humans Populated the Middle East 122 Deserts and Civilization: The Twin Drivers of Middle Eastern Cultural DNA 124 The Rules of Life 128 The Commercial Instinct 134 The Best Ideas in the World 138 The Honor–Modesty System 143 The Other Sex 148 Concentric Circles of Belonging 151 Managing Contradictions and Tensions 153 Chapter 5 China: The Seekers of Harmony 157 The Peopling of China 159 The Forces That Shaped China’s DNA 161 The Drive for Harmony 165 The Authoritarian Compact 173 Concrete and Practical Inventiveness 177 Fast Slow 181 Bounded Sociability and Empathy 185 The Art of Copying 189 Future Considerations 193 Chapter 6 Europe: The Equal Society 195 The Forces that have Shaped European Cultural DNA 196 Equality and Elitism 203 Bounded Individualism 212 Analyisis and Structured Planning 218 Reserved Sociability 222 The Diminishing Drive for Mastery 225 The Opportunities and Challenges for European Culture 231 Chapter 7 The Far Continents 235 Latin America—The Ever-Changing Melting Pot 235 Australia: Mateship in a Far-Off Land 244 Conclusions 255 Notes 259 Index 271
“The book should be very useful to those responsible for international relations, but particularly to managers working in multi-national corporations.” (The HR Director, April 2015) "Bains steers an eclectic but carefully measured journey, in which he builds stepwise arguments, supported by anecdotal and empirical evidence from his own impressive global consulting history and wider sources." (The Marketeers, July 2015)"Sometimes cultural stereotypes–Americans are positive, Africans are warm, Indians hate aggressive behavior–can actually be useful in helping expats navigate an unfamiliar world. In his new book about cross-cultural communications, business psychologist Gurnek Bains says that it’s a good idea to 'cherchez la difference,'so to speak." (The Wall Street Journal, May 2015)"In his new book, Cultural DNA: The Psychology of Globalization, Gurnek Bains discusses the soft skills required to engage leaders in a connected world." (Fortune, March 2015)"Gurnek Bains presents ground breaking original research and the latest evidence from neuroscience, behavioral genetics, psychology and history to enable people to understand, empathize with and engage people from other cultures in our increasingly connected world. He argues that much previous work in this area has just scratched the surface and examines the deepest instincts of eight key global cultures to help readers understand the psychological themes at play in regions such as the U.S., Latin America, Europe, China, India, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia." (India CSR, May 2015)"To be a CEO today requires taking a global perspective with an understanding of the cultures of others.The position is that understanding those with whom we do business will make doing business easier and more pleasant. The danger of falsely stereotyping people in the attempt to understand them will be greatly diminished by reading this book." (Fin24, May 2015)"Bains steers an eclectic but carefully measured journey, in which he builds stepwise arguments, supported by anecdotal and empirical evidence from his own impressive consulting history and wider sources." (The Huffington Post, June 2015)"Authoritative and thoroughly-researched, Cultural DNA is a must-read book for anyone who is interested in, and asking deeper questions about, the origins of modern cultures." (Dialogue Review, June 2015)
GURNEK BAINS is the co-founder and Chairman of Young Samuel Chambers (YSC), a premier global business psychology consultancy, with 19 offices around the globe, including four in the US, two in Latin America, eight in Asia Pac and the Middle East, two in Africa, and three in Europe. At YSC, Bains works at the most senior levels in international business, coaching CEOs and helping companies create the organizational culture to drive their long-term success. He has a doctorate in psychology from Oxford University. He is also author of Meaning, Inc.: The Blueprint for Business Success in the 21st Century.
Go to any part of the world and you will see much that you recognize. People are just people. But the longer you stay, the more you will realize there are profound differences that may have been invisible on the surface. There is no such thing as a global citizen, business or society. For example, even the most internationally recognizable firms have values systems, cultures and processes that are firmly embedded in their place of origin. The idea of cultural differences is far from new, but even in a fast globalizing world we still understand very little about the why behind these differences. As Bains demonstrates in Cultural DNA, countless challenges can be traced directly back to this lack of understanding. Cultural DNA provides a framework for understanding and working with each of the world's significant cultures. Through an analysis of over 1,700 in-depth reports from executives in every region of the world, interdisciplinary research and case studies, Bains identifies the core DNA themes for each culture. Latest psychological, biological and neurobiological research demonstrates that beliefs and orientation to life are, both figuratively and literally, in our DNA. For example, new research shows that the frequency of genes related to independent mindedness and rebelliousness may vary as much as 75% by geographical region. Huge variations are also apparent in other psychological genes. Why? In Cultural DNA, Bains examines the history and psychology of eight important regions of the globe to show that we may be influenced much more by our ancient ancestors than we think. Executives and leaders at today's businesses need to become psychologists and historians if they hope to make sound long-term strategic decisions. Cultural DNA will give readers the scientific and practical insights they need to take both differences and similarities into account. Ignoring culture can be disastrous for international firms, but approaching culture through the lens of unfounded stereotypes and incomplete knowledge is just as dangerous. From this remarkably powerful and clear summary of what's known about the world's cultures and their origins, readers will gain the ability to proceed confidently and intelligently in the global marketplace.
CULTURAL DNA WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THE WORLD Why are Americans so positive? Why is China a world leader in manufacturing and India in IT? Why do overseas firms often fail in the US? What are the emotional forces driving current events in the Middle East? Why are Scandinavian societies and businesses the most equal in the world? Why is there a Chinatown in most major cities? The answers lie in the deep cultural DNA of these societies. Cultural DNA will take you on a psychological tour of the world to help you get under the skin and productively engage other cultures in our emerging multipolar world. Presenting ground breaking original research and the latest evidence from neuroscience, behavioral genetics, psychology and beyond, the deepest instincts of eight key global cultures are dissected. Each culture has attributes that developed over thousands of years to address unique environmental challenges. This DNA drumbeat reverberates through each society affecting everything, including its economic institutions, consumer psychology, organizational culture and the strengths and weaknesses of its leaders. And as globalization marches on, we can learn important lessons from the world's distinct societies. Savvy and informed leaders need to understand these forces if they are to make the right calls as they engage global cultures. If you want to succeed in global markets, develop diverse talents and tap into the real potential of people everywhere, read Cultural DNA.
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