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Reader's Review

John Baker

Doing Business Internationally: The Guide to Cross-Cultural Success, Second Edition
By Danielle Medina Walker, Thomas Walker and Joerg Schmitz
330 pp. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003
Hardback Edition: U.S. $ 29.95

This is one of those foundational books that offers a means to understand others more fully through examining the cultural lenses that shape our views of the world and those of our fellow humans who live within it. As such, it offers a solid and valuable perspective on one of the wellsprings of human behavior.

Although the book focuses on international business, its subject is a far broader and deeper study than its title might seem to suggest to the reader. It is a well-researched and carefully thought out attempt to understand the role of culture in human interaction and to use those findings to enrich the results of cross-cultural exchanges.

The book begins with an examination of the global society as an ever-growing factor in our social, economic and political lives. Where once the trader, the warrior, the migrant and the tourist formed the leading edges of cross-cultural experience, the Internet, the airplane, international business and entertainment rapidly and regularly bring all of us into new cultural encounters today.

Despite the threat to our cultural hallmarks, there is no question that the global tide relentlessly sweeps into our lives, changing them in profound and ever wider manners. We live in a world in which our employers may be based in Germany, our cars designed in Japan, our clothes made in China, and our customer service product contact may be resident in India. It is an environment that requires enhancing strategies and perspectives to function successfully within it. How does one learn to do that? This is a book that is designed to help the reader accomplish that operational goal.

Drawing on sociology, anthropology and business sources, the authors use their extensive experience in global business to present a model intended to identify and define the key cultural "dimensions" found in all human cultures. Then, they apply these cultural dimensions to the world on a region by region basis.

The authors present carefully crafted portraits of the cultural tendencies they distinguish as central to the societies of the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, Western and Eastern Europe, North America and Latin America. This accomplished, the authors explore techniques for employing their findings in order to more effectively work, communicate and, of course, negotiate in the global environment. It is a series of tasks not for the feint of heart.

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