June 2, 2010

Maybe NOW they’ll learn!

Well, Kulturtolk got its two cents in today. Bjørn Christian Nørbech, Managing Partner, was quoted in Aftenposten. This was a follow-up to an article from May 14th discussing how many Norwegian M&A’s have been unsuccessful despite sky-high price tags. Today’s article looks at the why’s. The conclusion? Not enough focus on cultural differences! A study has found that 85% of M&A failures were due in part to culture. The importance and effects of cultural differences on business were underestimated.

It’s about time that companies took a closer look at their organizational culture before forking out money on an acquisition. What happens, ultimately, is that two or more cultures are forced into collision mode before they can unravel, shake themselves off and start creating a new, joint culture. But if companies were prepared for the culture clash, it would be less painful, take less time and lessen negative effects to the bottom line.

Bjørn Christian points out that most of today’s leaders came into the job market at a time when culture was not a focus in business school. It’s not their fault. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. But these days, we should know better. Companies should be doing a cultural due diligence in addition to the economic and legal due diligence that is a given in an M&A situation.

To read the articles in Bjørn Christian’s native Norwegian, click here.

April 22, 2010

More Culture in the Doctor’s Office

I’ve recently come across more and more information regarding culture in the doctor’s office. There are articles and You Tube videos about cultural sensitivity, cultural interpreters and cross-cultural communication between doctors and patients. It’s important that this topic gets more attention, as it is so easy for misunderstandings to take place in a medical environment. As I mentioned in my blog “Culture in the Doctor’s Office”, there is the question of strong emotions, language, professional culture and national culture at play.

I was encouraged to see an article in Norway’s Aftenposten with the title “Culture Clash at Norwegian Hospitals” (loose translation). The gist of the article is that researchers believe that Norwegian ER nurses and hospital staffs need more cultural awareness and conflict management skills and knowledge. For a sample of the article or for access to the full article, click here.

With a little further digging I found out that the University of Michigan School of Dentistry has actually created a series of cross-cultural videos on effective communication between health providers and patients. They make some good points and again, at least they are being proactive. Here are two samples. The first features bad communication and the second features good communication.

And there are plenty more where those came from if you want to explore a bit. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital also has a good video showing cultural from both the health care provider’s and the patient’s perspective. Take a look here.

This topic has even trickled down into pop culture. One Grey’s Anatomy episode features a tense situation between the doctors and a Hmong family. It’s a great example of western versus traditional medical traditions and a good (albeit Hollywood) way to blend the two. Who says TV can’t be a good influence?