Hofstede and National Culture: a guest viewpoint by Charles Hampden-Turner

A Dutch colleague of ours, Geert Hofstede, measures national cultures. He found that China thinks very long-termbut Britain and the USA think very short-term. Likewise China is high in self-control while the UK and USA are much higher in self-indulgence, being much more related to consumption than production.  

This clearly relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people want to go to bars and beaches and indulge themselves, while it takes self-control to self-isolate and keep your distance. One reason China can build a hospital in 9 days, is that it thinks long-term and keeps building modules in reserve. What takes nine days is the assembly of what had been stored. The long-term includes the short-term. If you  exercise control now you can indulge later, but it does not work the other way around.   

Charles Hampden-Turner is a British management philosopher, and Senior Research Associate at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge since 1990. He is the co-founder and Director of Research and Development at the Trompenaars-Hampden-Turner Group, in Amsterdam.       

Guilt and Shame: a guest viewpoint by Charles Hampden-Turner

A common distinction made by anthropologists is between a guilt culture common in the West, and a shame culture, typical of China. In a guilt culture, the individual breaks a universal law or rule, and feels guilty as a result. Any regret tends to be private and the pressures are not strong. 

In a shame culture, the community confronts particular persons and makes them feel ashamed of having endangered the lives of those who are now reproaching them. Their angry stares make those persons who were careless “lose face” for not considering other people. The pressure can be very strong indeed and may be much more effective in getting that person to comply with social norms. In the West the police may fine you for not obeying a law or following instructions, but is it not more telling to have the persons you endangered, look you in the eye?     

Charles Hampden-Turner is a British management philosopher, and Senior Research Associate at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge since 1990. He is the co-founder and Director of Research and Development at the Trompenaars-Hampden-Turner Group, in Amsterdam.

COVID-19: a guest viewpoint by Charles Hampden-Turner

China has dealt with COVID-19 incredibly better than the USA. It has suffered 3 deaths per million while the US has suffered 424 deaths per million at the latest count, so the PRC has less than 1% of America’s death toll. Why is this, when the US had so much more warning? 

My company measures the values of managers world-wide. The whole of East Asia, influenced over the years by Chinese civilization, is less individualist than it is community oriented. China grasps that the community is what preserves the rights of the individual, who must defer to that community if and when it becomes infected, so that parents and grandparents could die. Confucianism teaches fidelity to parents. In contrast Americans feel their liberties are infringed by lock-downs, by face masks, by interfering governments. 

Charles Hampden-Turner is a British management philosopher, and Senior Research Associate at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge since 1990. He is the co-founder and Director of Research and Development at the Trompenaars-Hampden-Turner Group, in Amsterdam.

Conflict vs Unity: a guest viewpoint by Charles Hampden-Turner

China is the mirror image of much of the West. When we look in the mirror this switches any mark or spot on our faces from one side to the other. The West sees government as conflict leading to unity We say rude things about each other and then ask hearers to vote on who made the best argument. 

China starts with unity, which over time admits into it more conflict in viewpoints.  Each of us puts what we most admire in the shop window and hides the other value away behind the stage. Hence in the West we have debates, name-calling, and angry demonstrations, and hope this will lead to a new accommodation, when votes are counted. China puts consensus, agreement suggested solutions in the shop window and hides from sight the strenuous disagreements that went into forging this. Meetings are called to celebrate hard won consensus. Of course everyone agrees!         

Charles Hampden-Turner is a British management philosopher, and Senior Research Associate at the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge since 1990. He is the co-founder and Director of Research and Development at the Trompenaars-Hampden-Turner Group, in Amsterdam.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals – how to fix the world

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched as a 15-year programme, 2016 – 2030, to try to mobilise individuals, businesses and governments to fix some of the world’s most pressing issues – including climate change, urbanization, poverty, hunger, education.

Five years on, how are we doing? Importantly, how is China reacting to the SDGs? We invite scholars to share their research and ideas on the SDGs and China, and the SDGs in China. Case studies and success stories are welcome.  Please contact [email protected] in the first instance.

Belt and Road – an invitation for authors

The Belt and Road initiative, (yi dai yi lu, One Belt One Road) has been called a ‘21st century Silk Road’, connecting Asia, Africa and Europe. Championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the initiative is expected to exceed $1 trillion in construction and contracts alone, and it has helped China to become the world’s largest lender of development finance, surpassing the World Bank in 2019. 

But academic studies of this colossal programme are few. We are pleased to invite scholars to consider how a book or chapter collection on aspects of the Belt and Road – logistics, trade, financial, cultural, economic, to name a few – might enhance understanding of the programme. Please contact [email protected] for more details.

Anglo China Publishing sign a partnership agreement with China National Publishing Import Export Corporation (CNPIEC)

Anglo China Publishing (ACP), the publishing division of Wainstalls Holdings in the UK, have concluded a distribution agreement with the state-owned publisher and distributor CNPIEC. 

Wainstalls Managing Director John Peters said “We are pleased and honoured to be working with one of the world’s largest and most prestigious publishing services businesses, CNPIEC. This will help us develop our operations in China in the future.”

CNPIEC was founded in 1949, and serves more than 10,000 Universities and libraries. ACP have offices in the UK and Hangzhou.For more information contact [email protected].

Social Responsibility is Free

It’s easy to say that organizations should behave ‘properly’, and in a socially responsible manner. But why should they? How does social responsibility fit with a capitalist ethos? Can organizations, small and large, ‘do well, by doing good’?

Find out more by downloading the full electronic document here.

Sustainability, PRME and the United Nations Global Compact

What it is, why it’s valuable, how to register, and how to stay registered.

Signing up to the UN Global Compact and/or PRME is the clearest way to demonstrate support for sustainable behaviour, responsible leadership and good business practice. That is increasingly expected by customers, students, regulators, and staff, and is increasingly a part of reporting, audit and disclosure.We can help with planning, reporting and implementation.

Find out more by downloading our presentation here.

The ‘push-pull’ approach to leadership and organization development

Leadership and management development can lead to unmet expectations, where an individual or group in an organization has undergone development, but the organization is unable to put them into a position to use their new-found skills.

This led us to what we call a ‘push-pull’ development approach, where personal learning and development leads to beneficial organizational change, and the creation of opportunities to use the skills developed. Although the link between personal and organizational development is well-established, we believe our approach, based on action learning, is unique.

Action Learning

Action learning (sometimes, action-centred learning, or action-reflection learning) was first codified by British educator Reg Revans in the 1940s. It is, in essence, learning by engagement in real and important organization-based change and development projects, and taking responsibility for implementation, rather than providing a consultative exposition of what might be done. The reflections on what has been achieved, why blockages occurred, who helped and why, and the ownership of those outcomes, leads to very focused personal learning. Action learning initiatives are mostly undertaken in small facilitated groups. Much of the learning focuses on what Revans called the ‘Q’ – asking the right questions, then seeking answers from the ‘P’ – programmed (extant) knowledge. Revans called this the ‘learning equation – P+Q = L (learning), and this and variants have been well-explored in both in-company and university business school settings over the years.

In our ‘push-pull’ model, the ‘pull’ element is relatively pure action learning. Items on an organization’s strategic agenda are identified, and learners asked to tackle them. The ‘push’ element says – don’t wait passively to be fast-tracked. Fast-track yourself. Create a business opportunity which is congruent with the understood strategic goals. While no organization will make open-ended promises that any ‘push’ initiative will be backed, the learner should be willing to make a coherent and persuasive entrepreneurial business case, and the organization be open-minded enough to consider investment of capital and resources.

‘Pull’ projects prepare staff for enlarged challenges, and are top-down in nature. ‘Push’ projects may cause disruptive change. Both are needed in order for a company, and its staff, to develop and thrive. Often, an individual or group (at Emerald, we worked with ‘quartets’ of four staff drawn from different parts of the business) will have something of both push and pull elements.

Examples in our Emerald case were the need to address centralised sales co-ordination (a strategic ‘pull’ caused by an earlier entrepreneurial ‘push’) and the development of an e-learning community support into a monetised external application (an entrepreneurial ‘push’ which stated as a strategic support ‘pull’).

If you lose, don’t lose the lesson

Successful people need to be smart, and resilient. If you lose, as they say, don’t lose the lesson. If an idea is turned down, or fails to launch, a learner who says ‘how could I have sold it better’ or ‘how do I have another go’ is likely to have more leadership potential than one who says ‘they never listen to my good ideas’ or ‘that’s the last time I suggest anything’.

  • ‘how could I have sold it better’: self-critical, improving, open to learning
  • ‘how do I have another go’: persistent, resilient, optimistic
  • ‘they never listen to my good ideas’: blaming others, closed to learning
  • ‘that’s the last time I suggest anything’: defeatist, not engaged

The action learning approach forces a learner – individual or group – into reflection. With skilled  facilitation, this is more likely to engender the positive outcomes than the negative. The push-pull model encourages both strategic understanding and engagement, and an entrepreneurial, change-making mindset. Alignment with strategic direction is sought, but most successful organizations stir in an element of bottom-up invention into the top-down strategic recipe.

Organizations need leaders at all levels; leaders of operational continuity; leaders of disruptive change. Credible leaders care about their workplace, their colleagues, and their customers and stakeholders. They speak with confidence and authority.

Action learning provides a process in which teams and individuals can develop business-related approaches. These may be approaches to conserve, or to improve, or to change, or a mixture. Most organizations do not want to invest in ‘just-in-case’ learning, but to spend wisely on achieving organizational goals. The push-pull approach to learning and organizational development is a tool to achieve that.

John Peters & Eric Sandelands, Wainstalls Partnership, 2019

Adapted from ‘The Push-Pull approach to fast-track management development’, Fojt, Parkinson, Peters and Sandelands, Journal of Workplace Learning Vol 20 No 2, 2008, pp146-152, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. This, and the original article, was based on a learning and organization development programme conducted by the authors at Emerald Group and elsewhere.