Culturally Diversity Laboratory Insiad and Erin Meyer, and Culture Map

Erin Mayer, who teaches cross-cultural management and organizational behavior at Insiad, confesses in a preface that the school is in fact a laboratory that tests, challenges, argues, and modifies her findings. Insiad has been ranked in the Top 10 in the past 10 years at the top 100 business schools selected annually by the Financial Times, and is the world’s best business school, ranking first in this year’s (2016). It was the first time a year-long MBA program had topped the list since the Financial Times began publishing its rankings in 1999. According to Mayer, French students account for only 7 percent of French students on the Insiad campus in France, and Indian students make up the largest cultural group with 11 percent of all students. In fact, Insiad, which uses globalization and diversity as its motto, manages students from one country not to exceed 10 to 12% of new students. Erin Mayer, who studies the complexity of cultural differences and how to work efficiently in them, has no better research environment. The Insiad Campus, where anyone is bound to be a cultural minority, is already thoroughly implementing globalization and diversity in human composition.

Erin Mayer’s research topic is closely related to this Insiad’s academic style, and her lectures are one of the reasons why Insiad is recognized as the world’s best business school. Her research on how to increase work efficiency based on an understanding of cultural diversity is already drawing enthusiastic responses from business leaders and business students around the world. What she wrote in the Harvard Business Review in 2015?Getting to Si, Ja, Oui, Hai, and Da? were selected as the most read by readers of the year. In addition, the “Thinksers 50” Foundation, which publishes its annual list of most influential business thinkers, named Erin Meyer one of the most promising business thinkers in 2013, and awarded the Radar Award to the most promising business thinkers in 2015. “Culture Map” is a book that summarizes Erin Meyer’s decade-long research at the Insiad, which allows readers to access the core of cultural management lectures held at the world’s top business school, even on paper.

Which is more important, cultural differences or personalities?

The relationship between man and culture is like the relationship between fish and water. In other words, it seems so familiar that there is nothing new at all. So people often don’t realize the importance of discussing cultural differences. You think it’s a job to learn some etiquette and manners. But understanding cultural differences is not as simple as this book shows. Not understanding cultural differences is tantamount to not understanding the mindset of the other person in the business. A person makes a business, a culture makes a person. In today’s global business environment, where people are increasingly forced to work with people from different cultures, as managers, colleagues, or business partners, it’s no exaggeration to say that individual success depends on their ability to overcome cultural differences. And this ability is not obtained by itself just because you are good at English, the world’s common language.

There is also a strong objection to the discussion of cultural differences. What is really important is to understand the individual’s personality, and the story of cultural differences can only instill prejudice. It seems very reasonable to argue that there are very diverse individuals in a culture, and it is not desirable to lump them into a single category of culture. However, Erin Meyer says, “Unfortunately,” because of this very approach, many people are not learning what they need to know to achieve their goals. We have no choice but to look at people from different cultures through our own cultural lens and evaluate and judge them accordingly, which inevitably leads to misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships between people from different cultures.

People are all different. We should not judge individuals hastily based on their country of origin or culture, but we should not judge that there is no need to understand the cultural context. We should pay attention to cultural differences as well as personal differences. In other words, both are important. Erin Mayer, in this book “Culture Map,” provides the best systematic yet simple tool needed to understand the latter, that is, the cultural context.


It is important to understand the cultural map, the relativity of culture

This book presents eight criteria, which are key topics for managers to pay attention to, as a single map. It is a so-called cultural map. It includes communication, evaluation, persuasion, organizational management, decision-making, trust, objection, and schedule management, and Erin Mayer addresses each criterion one by one in a total of eight chapters. Each criterion is again divided into two opposing directions. Low context vs. context (communication), direct negative vs. indirect negative assessment (evaluation), principle priority vs. application (persuasion), horizontal vs. vertical (organization management), consensus vs. downward (decision making), task-oriented vs. confrontational (confident), straight time vs. elastic (schedule).

In order to correctly understand the eight criteria presented by Erin Meyer here, it is necessary to understand another factor of cultural relativity. For example, in terms of trust, is Spain a work-oriented country or a relationship-oriented country? Most people think Spain is a relationship-oriented country. But this answer is not the answer. This is because the evaluation can be completely different depending on where it is viewed. The right side of the trust standard is task-oriented and the left side is relationship-oriented, and by the standards of countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the United States, which are located on the right side of Spain, Spain is definitely relationship-oriented. However, Spain is a business-oriented country in terms of the positions of countries on the left side of Spain, such as India, Saudi Arabia, Angola, and China. It should be kept in mind that what is important when people from different cultures form relationships is not the absolute position occupied by each culture in a specific standard, but the relative position.


Erin Mayer says that talking about a person’s culture is as careful as talking about that person’s mother. Culture is such a sensitive subject. Erin Mayer introduces a famous fable in which two young fish meet an older fish swimming from the other side, urging them not to be angry at the judgment or criticism that others make on their culture. An adult fish greets two young fish like this. Hello, kids How’s the water? Two young fish look at each other and ask him?But what the hell is water? When we are in a culture, how difficult is it to look at our own culture objectively? Erin Meyer recommends that even if the characters in the book complain, criticize, or feel absurd about our culture, take it as an opportunity to learn more about our culture that we don’t know much about. I hope readers of this book will do the same.