Reading Global/Reading Local


In our increasingly globalized world, even the smallest businesses have to keep up with the broad international trends affecting the marketplace. Conversely, larger corporations, especially ones expanding into new countries, need to be aware of the local cultural context “on the ground.” How do we answer such vital questions as: should we shake hands with or bow to our host? When is it acceptable to talk about money during a meeting? What arts do some cultures prefer over others? Do we gently or enthusiastically accept a colleague’s business card? All cultures answer these questions differently, and to do business successfully we need to respectfully and accurately gauge these cultural signals. How can literature help us do this? How do great writers help us “read” cultures? In this workshop, I will take participants through a series of “literary encounters” between characters from different cultures, to show how some are able to read the cultural writing on the wall—and how others are illiterate in this key business sense. Based on our examples, I will present participants with a model for interpreting and acting on “cultural signs” that can then be applied to many different commercial contexts in the client’s business world.