Saturday 20th February 2016 @



Complementarity and Synergy: A Constructive Approach to Cultural Otherness in International Management


Speaker: Peter Franklin – Konstanz University of Applied Sciences, Germany

With the publication of Hofstede’s paradigm-changing research in 1980 a period began in which both researchers and practitioners in international management were interested in the differences in how management was ‘done’ in different country cultures. This interest was followed by a focus on the difficulties encountered by managers in intercultural settings when they attempted to apply management techniques motivated by their own values and norms and unfamiliar to partner organisations and colleagues from other cultures. This confrontation with difficulties ushered in an interest in what managers need in the form of knowledge, skills, attitudes and personal characteristics to handle these differences and difficulties.
Currently we are witnessing a discussion1 – and potentially a paradigm-change – which sees cultural diversity in international management as a resource which should be foregrounded not only for ethical and strategic reasons but leveraged for creative, synergistic results. This change is due to increasing amounts of research2 and experience which confirm this view. It is no longer enough in an increasingly interconnected and culturally heterogeneous world simply to know about how people, organisations and cultures differ across cultures – this is largely known or knowable. The more urgent questions are: How can organisations and individuals manage these intercultural challenges in order to benefit from the diversity?

  1. See for example Stahl, G. K, Tung, R. L. (2015): “Towards a more balanced treatment of culture in international business studies: The need for positive cross-cultural scholarship.” In: Journal of International Business Studies, 46:6, 391–414 and Barmeyer, C. & Franklin, P. (2016): Intercultural Management. A Case-based Approach to Achieving Complementarity and Synergy. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. See for example Stahl, G. K, Maznevski, M. L., Voigt, A., & Jonsen, K. (2009): “Unravelling the effects of cultural diversity in teams: A meta-analysis of research on multicultural work groups”. In: Journal of International Business Studies, 41, 690–709.


Professor Peter Franklin

Professor Peter Franklin, born in Dover, UK, teaches intercultural communication and intercultural management on BA, MA and MBA programmes at Konstanz University of Applied Sciences, Germany. He also regularly teaches at business schools in China and Switzerland. In addition to his university work, since 1989 Peter Franklin has advised, trained and addressed numerous corporate and institutional clients. His focus is on developing intercultural leadership and management competence, international change management, post-merger integration, team-building and UK-German cooperation.
Intercultural Management. A Case-Based Approach to Achieving Complementarity and Synergy, edited by Christoph Barmeyer and Peter Franklin, will be published in March 2016. 2014 saw the publication of a third and significantly expanded edition of The Mindful International Manager: How to Work Effectively Across Cultures by Jeremy Comfort and Peter Franklin. A book entitled Intercultural Interaction and written by Helen Spencer-Oatey and Peter Franklin was published by Palgrave in 2009 and in Chinese by Peking University Press in 2012.
The OECD recently appointed Peter as a member of its international core expert group on global competence to support the development of the PISA 2018 study of 500,000 students in more than 70 countries.



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