You don’t need to go far off the beaten path to acquire the information you need to jump-start your cultural learning. Here are a few tips that will lead the way for you.
Start with your bank. Many big international banks, HSBC for example (https://globalconnections.hsbc.com/global/en/tools-data/country-guides), offer country guides right on their site. Universities also offer a rich, in-depth pool of resources covering cross-cultural country insights. A good example: Michigan State University’s globalEDGE: http://globaledge.msu.edu/global-insights/by/country. Then start searching for what you are looking for on the Internet. After that, visit a store that specializes in world travel equipment and incidentals (like http://www.WorldTraveler.com). They typically sell books, CDs, and digital recordings with which you can brief yourself on the economy, dress, cuisine, etiquette, and other vital statistics of just about any country in the world. Some specialize in lessons on what to do and what not to do when conducting business in specific foreign countries.
Travel bookstores (Magellan’s, for example: http://www.magellans.com/country_guides/country-guides); Amazon; and bookstore chains like Barnes and Noble usually have a respectable selection of sophisticated country-by-country travel guides. You’ll find more than enough to get you started.
I particularly recommend the following books:
- Roger E. Axtell’s Gestures: The Do’s and Taboos of Body Language Around the World (1977) is a simple, amusing, and informative survival guide to understanding cultures other than your own.
- David Livermore’s Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The New Secret to Success (2009) provides solid academic research and years of experience on how to become more adept at managing across cultures. He’s also written The Cultural Intelligence Difference: Master the One Skill You Can’t Do Without in Today’s Global Economy (2011), which is also worth a look.
- Axtell’s Do’s and Taboos of Hosting International Visitors (1990) is another good guide to everything from entertaining, to business protocol, to what overseas guests find peculiar about the American way.
- Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway’s Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands (The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More than 60 Countries) (2006) discusses cultural overviews, behavior styles, negotiating techniques, protocol, and business practices in sixty countries. They also have books in the same series for Asia, Europe, Latin America, and on sales and marketing.
- Jerome Dumetz and colleagues’ Cross-Cultural Management Textbook: Lessons from the World Leading Experts (2012) helps people develop the behaviors and skills necessary to adapt to a culturally diverse world.
For more country-specific cultural information, you might also try the following online sites:
- National Geographic (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/)
- Lonely Planet (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa)
- Fodor’s Travel guides (Ireland’s guide, for example, can be found here: http://www.fodors.com/go-list/2013/ireland/)
- Export.gov “Find Market Intelligence” (https://www.export.gov/Market-Intelligence)
- Central Intelligence Agency’s “World Factbook” (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/docs/profileguide.html) offers information beyond a country’s culture, including on geography, the people, government, economy, and transportation.
©Laurel J. Delaney. All rights reserved. Publisher: Apress, 2016. The above is an excerpt from: Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably.