Tag Archives: cultural awareness

Dr. Fons Trompenaars on Corporate Culture: A lesson based around a video

This is a plan for a 90 minute lesson with high B2 or C1 learners, created for an in-company course. I would recommend using this lesson plan with participants who have regular contact with colleagues, customers, suppliers, partners from other countries, since its aims are:

  • to encourage the learners to reflect on the essential components of their own corporate culture and how that compares and contrasts with corporate cultures in other cultures or geographical areas
  • to develop strategies for minimising conflict potential and establishing successful working relationships between themselves and business partners from those different culture and geographical areas.

Two different sources inspired me to write this lesson. The first was a task I completed as part of the CertIBET (Certificate in International Business English Training) course that I´m currently taking part in with The Consultants-E. The aim of the task was to read about the ideas of a range of thinkers and decide which one was the most interesting for me. I chose Fons Trompennars and his ideas about intercultural communication because as a British person living in Germany, I´m frequently confronted by culture contrasts myself and I´m interested in explaining and trying to come to terms with them. I also just found his ideas interesting! My CertIBET tutor, Carl Dowse, then posted this video of Fons Trompenaars talking about corporate culture:

The second source of inspiration was a group I teach. They´re German scaffolding specialists who are currently working on a project for the Queen´s diamond jubilee in collaboration with a British company which provides seating for events. They were having big communication problems with their British partners! I asked them to elaborate on what was going wrong and found out that they were communicating in a very direct manner and the British partners had perceived this directness as impolite and unfriendly. There was also the matter of timekeeping: the Germans expected deadlines to be met and that they would be given ample time to meet them, whereas the British wanted to take a more flexible approach to time and had asked the Germans to complete work for them at short notice. This didn´t please the Germans and they weren´t afraid to let the British know about it. My group seemed to lack sufficient awareness of the fact that their British colleagues had a different way of working than they did and they expected them to conform to their German way of doing things, which, of course, was never going to happen.

This lesson was written with these learners in mind and in the hope that it would reduce the conflict potential between thems and their international business partners next time around and, therefore, help them to establish more successful working relationships, which can only be beneficial to their organisation.
You can download the lesson plan here.
Here´s the link to the YouTube video.

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