Global Business Center

Cross Cultural Business Savvy at the Speed of a Dynamic World

February 10, 2014 By GBC


Alisha Taylor,
MBA@UNC, Class of 2014

As an MBA@UNC online student, I was very fortunate to participate in the Cross-Cultural Savvy for Global Business certificate program Friday January 31 through Saturday February 1, 2014.

The program focused on our collaborations with Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian cultures and learning about the cultural values, communication, and ways to enhance our connections with each other. I was very eager to attend the certificate program because in my field of engineering and construction, cross-cultural business savvy is no longer an option, but a necessity in today’s dynamic world.

Statistics and experience show that diverse teams greatly outperform homogenous teams, and both domestic and multinational firms are seeking to realize these advantages.

As global leaders, we must learn to employ collaborative efforts across diverse groups and cultures for our mutual success and gain. The great advantage of the MBA@UNC and Cross- Cultural Business program is that I am immediately able to apply the skills that I have learned in my personal and work environment.

Professors Tim Flood and Elizabeth Dickinson led sessions that focused on the various personal and cultural communication styles, identifying whether we were primarily relationship-oriented, task-oriented, or seek harmony in our interactions. Emphasis was based on acknowledging stereotypes, and how they’re limiting our communications; “the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story,” Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie resounds in her 2009 TED speech discussed in the sessions.

Every day, we make choices on how we will feel, react, and interrelate with others. “I choose (whether) to be offended,” resonated fellow attendee Brigitta Theleman. We often simplify situations and our view of others based on our personal experiences and beliefs. Many times, we assume poorer intent of others than what we transcribe to ourselves. Instead, through our sessions in the program we learned to challenge our assumptions, choose to seek a better understanding of the issues, ask clarifying questions, empathize with others, and suspend judgment.

As a physical example of our personal assumptions and choices, participants engaged in a silent card game tournament where the various competitive tables demonstrated different rules (unbeknownst at first to the competitors). Varying degrees of hilarity, frustration, gesticulating, and community ensued as participants reacted to instances of shifting rules amongst rotating between the different table environments.

This hands-on activity served as a poignant reminder about our interactions with each other in global environments. We may not always know the unofficial rules of interacting with other cultures, but through openness and understanding we can learn to engage each other through teamwork and communication to succeed together.

The Cross-Cultural Savvy for Global Business certificate program served as an ongoing reminder to first acknowledge our limitations of knowledge, and use “savvy” skills taught in the sessions to seek more understanding and ask questions of each other. With our efforts, we can achieve a global business environment of mutual success in today’s dynamic world.

group 10

Event:  Cross-Cultural Savvy for Global Business
Location and Date: Friday, January 31th, 2014 – Saturday, February 1st, 2014