My Journey to Cultural Differences

There are over 200 countries in the world but even more cultures!

I know now that according the Richard D. Lewis book When Cultures Collide: Learning Across Cultures there are three cultural categories: linear-active, multi-active and reactive. The category has an influence on how people see world and how they communicate. Finland belongs to that last mentioned with eastern cultures like Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea and Singapore. It surprised me a lot to find my home country among eastern cultures.

Most of people on this planet are multi-actives! Reactives are the second largest group and always so effective linear-actives are the smalles group of people. It is wise to learn how people from Mediterranean area, Latins, Africans and Arabs function.

I also know that time is seen differently in Eastern and Western cultures. It can be seen as linear or cyclic and there is no international consensus about how past, present and future are experienced.

It was also worth learning that there is no such thing as global leadership style. Things related to organizing a group like authority, power, cooperation are seen differently in different cultures.

Reading the book explained and taught a lot of what it is like to be a Finn. It's a good starting point for understanding others.

What have I learned about Russia? Russia is a multi-active culture but not too far from linear-active cultures. Some interesting differences between Russian and Finns are that Finnish people are able to tolerate silence, Russian tendency to be more group, family and nation oriented than Finns and the Russian attitude towards plans, agendas and time is different from ours.

In Russia the leadership concept is undergoing remarkable changes because of the Soviet history. There was no real leadership in that era, the management language was based on coercion and demands. It is very interesting to learn and follow how will it develop. Some remarks about the current management style are that Russians value administrative competence, leaders are paternalistic and charismatic and decision-style is centralized. However, it's good to remember that Russia is a huge and culturally very diverse so stereotyping can be a bit dangerous in some cases.

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