Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 50

GLOBAL
OUTLOOK

BUYER BEWARE: DON'T INVEST IN CROSSCULTURAL TRAINING YOU DON'T NEED
BY JAMIE B. GELBTUCH AND FRANK GARTEN, PH.D.

Much of cross-cultural training bought in
the corporate world is the right solution to
the wrong problem and yields low return
on investment. When a multicultural team
is not performing well, culture quickly
becomes the scapegoat. The team's
issues, however, are not necessarily the
result of a lack of cultural knowledge.
The common perception is that working
on cross-cultural teams adds layers
of complexity. Yet, communication
challenges, trust-building issues and
power struggles can equally exist on
monocultural teams. In fact, research has
shown that "country" can be a poor
container of culture, as more differences
exist within countries than between them.
Perception is a poor compass for deciding
where to invest company dollars. In any
investment decision, one should return
to the facts and clarify the underlying
problem that needs to be solved.
WHY DO WE BUY CROSS-CULTURAL
TRAINING?
In our experience delivering crosscultural training, we identified three
primary reasons why companies invest
in it. First of all, confirmation bias kicks
in. Rather than carefully analyzing the
difficulty from multiple perspectives
and breaking it down to define the root
cause, our brain shortcuts to confirm our
belief that problems on cross-cultural
teams stem from cultural differences.
Secondly, today's work environment
demands results. Reaching out to human

| 50

resources (HR) to schedule a training is
quicker than working with team members
to dig into biases and interpersonal
dynamics. HR - feeling the same pressure
to deliver results - then outsources the
problem to an external training provider.
Everyone feels pro-active about taking
steps to solve the problem to the best of
their abilities. In reality, we have farmed
out the problem-solving two or even three
times, and with the addition of each party,
we lose sight of the real issue.
Finally, many organizations have an
embedded culture of training. This
becomes the go-to solution whenever
the way of working needs to improve.
Therefore, habit dictates that we
should invest in a cross-cultural training
when there is a problem on a crosscultural team.

AN OPEN ATTITUDE
TOWARD DIFFERENCES
IS MORE IMPORTANT
THAN STUDYING THE
BEHAVIORS THAT PEOPLE
MAY ENCOUNTER.

cluster national cultures based on
common characteristics, such as how
people deal with hierarchy or how directly
they communicate. Training uses this data
to look at central tendencies in a target
culture. However, the data does not isolate
regional, generational, organizational
or individual differences, the last two of
which are most likely responsible for the
challenges experienced on any team.
As a result, a cross-cultural training
focuses on how cultures are supposed to
be rather than how individuals actually are.
A training about Brazil doesn't talk about
your company's team in Brazil. It talks
about working with 200 million Brazilians in
general. Participants analyze cultural gaps
in an effort to match the Brazilian team's
behaviors to the tendencies predicted by
the models. This is an oversimplification
of the team's interactions that fails to take
unique personalities into account.

WHAT HAPPENS IN A TYPICAL
CROSS-CULTURAL TRAINING?

On one hand, cross-cultural training
provides "the joy of recognition."
Participants often see their colleagues'
behaviors in the cultural stereotypes.
The models offer a way to structure our
environment, so the world suddenly makes
sense. Because data and observations
have been organized, we perceive that
we better understand different cultures.
After the training, participants often say,
"The material was interesting," or, "The
course was good fun."

The majority of cross-cultural trainings
are based on cultural framework models
founded on the idea that culture is
something that can be measured and

On the other hand, participants may resist
the way a culture has been characterized,
as they can cite counterexamples in their
teams. They will refer to the Brazilian


https://www.hbr.org/2016/05/research-the-biggest-culture-gaps-are-within-countries-not-between-them https://www.hbr.org/2016/05/research-the-biggest-culture-gaps-are-within-countries-not-between-them

Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020

Consider Application When Redefining Your Training Programs
Table of Contents
Talent Development's Answer to Upskilling and Reskilling For the Future
How Will You Manage Behavior Change Challenges Post COVID-19?
Line of Sight: The Ultimate Learning Transfer Strategy
Behavior Change Is a Function of Proactive Positioning and Immediate Reinforcement
Aligning Games and Activities to Context to Encourage Action and Lighten the Load
Learn On the Job: A Spaced Learning Approach
Practice Doesn't Make Perfect … Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
Harnessing Informal Learning
The Backbone of the Smart Factory: A Network of Immersive Training
The Learning Transfer Elephant
5 Ways to Maximize Your On-the-Job Training Program
Are Keystone Habits the Magic Bullet for Training Outcomes?
How Vanderbilt University Conquered the Impossible: Affordably Scaling Ultrasound Training
Buyer Beware: Don't Invest in Cross-Cultural Training You Don't Need
Hackathons as a Means to Cultivate a Learning Organization
5 Ways to Improve the Performance of Your Learners
How Discomfort Enables Growth
Enabling Ubiquitous Learning: Cornerstone OnDemand Acquires Saba Software
Company News
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Intro
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 1
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 2
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Consider Application When Redefining Your Training Programs
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 4
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Table of Contents
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 6
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 7
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 8
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Talent Development's Answer to Upskilling and Reskilling For the Future
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 10
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - How Will You Manage Behavior Change Challenges Post COVID-19?
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 12
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Line of Sight: The Ultimate Learning Transfer Strategy
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 14
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Behavior Change Is a Function of Proactive Positioning and Immediate Reinforcement
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Aligning Games and Activities to Context to Encourage Action and Lighten the Load
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 17
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 18
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 19
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Learn On the Job: A Spaced Learning Approach
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 21
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 22
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 23
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Practice Doesn't Make Perfect … Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 25
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 26
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 27
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Harnessing Informal Learning
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 29
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 30
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 31
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - The Backbone of the Smart Factory: A Network of Immersive Training
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 33
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 34
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 35
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - The Learning Transfer Elephant
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 37
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 38
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 39
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 5 Ways to Maximize Your On-the-Job Training Program
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 41
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 42
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 43
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 44
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Are Keystone Habits the Magic Bullet for Training Outcomes?
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 46
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 47
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - How Vanderbilt University Conquered the Impossible: Affordably Scaling Ultrasound Training
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 49
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Buyer Beware: Don't Invest in Cross-Cultural Training You Don't Need
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 51
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 52
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Hackathons as a Means to Cultivate a Learning Organization
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 54
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 5 Ways to Improve the Performance of Your Learners
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 56
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - How Discomfort Enables Growth
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Enabling Ubiquitous Learning: Cornerstone OnDemand Acquires Saba Software
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - Company News
Training Industry Magazine - May/June 2020 - 60
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