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Is Your Organization Ready to Go Global?

5 Cultural Dimensions That Must Be Managed to Ensure Global Effectiveness

By Michael Leimbach, PhD, Nancy Frevert

The most critical global developments for businesses include the increase in economic activity in emerging markets, the free flow of information across the globe, and increasingly global labor markets.

The implications are clear: To grow and flourish in a global economy requires building strong business relationships across international boundaries. “Like it or not,” one expert points out, “knowledge of the world is no longer a luxury.” According to a McKinsey survey of executives around the world, the most important strategies for capturing growth include building a local presence, developing partnerships and joint ventures with local businesses, and recruiting talent from emerging markets. American companies must compete with companies around the world, whose leaders may be far more knowledgeable about U.S. culture than American leaders are about theirs.

For some years now, U.S.-based corporations have been acquiring businesses based abroad, establishing local branches in other countries, and assembling virtual teams to work across international boundaries. Even so, too many businesses are still unprepared to work with customers and coworkers from different cultures. The most common problems—misunderstandings and communication breakdowns—have a significant impact in terms of lowered productivity, lost sales, and unsuccessful product launches. “Effective cross-cultural skills are critical,” according to the global program manager for a large telecommunications manufacturer. “We are a global organization. We have clients around the world requiring global support and many cross-cultural project teams. If we can improve the global effectiveness skills of our team leaders and members, this will have tremendous impact on our bottom line.”

Overall 100% of the managers agreed, and 29% strongly agreed that global awareness training made them more effective in their job.

Michael Leimbach, PhD

Michael Leimbach, PhD, is a globally recognized expert in instructional design and leadership development. As Vice President of Global Research and Development for Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc., he has worked with numerous Global 1000 organizations in Australia, England, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and throughout the United States. Over more than 30 years, Dr. Leimbach had developed Wilson Learning’s diagnostic, learning, and performance improvement capabilities, published over 100 professional articles, coauthored four books, been Editor-in-Chief for the highly acclaimed ADHR research journal, and is a frequent speaker at national and global conferences. He also serves on the ISO Technical Committee (TC232) on Quality Standards for Learning Service Providers and on the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development Dean’s Advisory Board.

Nancy Frevert

Nancy Frevert, Masters International Management, is the Director of Solution Development for Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc. For over 15 years, Ms. Frevert has provided leadership for solution creation of both client programs and Wilson Learning brand offerings. She has managed and contributed to a wide variety of global client development initiatives. She leads the development efforts in sales, leadership, and individual effectiveness offerings at Wilson Learning. Ms. Frevert has been critical to the development of Wilson Learning’s approach to learning transfer.