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Friday, June 27, 2014

Developing the Global Mindset from Understanding Cultural Perspectives



The global mindset is important for managing organizations across a wide spectrum of cultures as well as working effectively within particular cultures. A study by Masakowski, et. al. (2013) discusses the concept of the global mindset and how a sample of military veterans was able to improve upon cultural intelligence, metacognitive/cognitive strategies, and their effective/motivational resources for learning. The study helps to highlight some of the factors in developing global managers.

Business education is beginning to incorporate the global mindset into their curriculum in an effort to create stronger global strategic decision-making. This mindset is fostered through multi-cultural interactions within classrooms (Rhinesmith, 1992). It may also be fostered in companies through cross collaborative projects and service oriented learning.

The global mindset can be used in business organizations, military units, or geographical dispersed projects. Global leadership skills are created by enhancing the global mind-set, cultural intelligence, and intercultural competence (Pless, et. al., 2011).  Development typically comes from tacit and implicit knowledge of other cultures that is built into an appropriate mental framework.

One can think of the global mindset as the development of the “software of the mind” (Hoftstead, 1991). It is a way of processing cultural information across boundaries using a method that makes logical sense to the user. It is a broad perspective that synthesizes information into a usable model that understands the impact of decisions across multiple cultures. It is a type of broad and wide strategic analysis.

According to Rhinesmith (1992, pg. 10) the global mindset is a “a predisposition to see the world in a particular way that sets boundaries and provides explanations for why things are the way they are. A mindset is a filter through which we look at the world.” As a unique perspective it offers the opportunity to understand and synthesize information on a global or universal scale.

Let us try and see this in a more concise perspective. Exposure to various cultures offers an opportunity to see different vantage points and ways of living unique to each culture. When multiple cultural perspectives are understood it is possible to take a wider perspective of life and synthesize that into conclusions that apply across cultures. It is something akin to the commonalities of life.

The study focused on veterans and others who seek to be entrepreneurs. The participants engaged in 2-3 weeks of online education followed by an intensive 9-day boot camp. They found that the metacognitive learning that leads to a global mindset is difficult to train and is something that is unintentional and unique to the individual. Global knowledge is concise pieces of information while the global perspective is a broader methodology of viewing the world. There were a number of factors that seem to have some influence:

Metacognitive/cognitive: The cognitive strategies that a person uses to understand other cultures and the strategies enacted to understand specific cultures (learning how to learn).

Affective/Motivational: People must be motivated to learn about other cultures to develop cultural intelligence.

Behavioral: The ability of a person to adjust their behavior to fit within a particular culture.

Hofstede, G. 1991. Cultures and organizations. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Mosakowski, E. et. al. (2013). Cultures as learning laboratories: what makes some more effective than others? Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12 (3).

Pless, N. M., Maak, T., & Stahl, G. K. 2011. Developing responsible global leaders through international service-learning programs: The Ulysses experience. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 10: 237–260.

Rhinesmith, S. H. 1992. Global mindsets for global managers. Training & Development, 46(10): 63–69.

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