Bilingual Business Leader Program,Core Curriculum of Department of Business

Nathan DeWitt, Senior Consultant at Link Global Solutions, talks about intercultural communication

Updated on: August 06, 2018|  PrintPrint

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On July 12th 2018, Mr. Nathan DeWitt, a senior consultant at Link Global Solutions Inc., visited Rikkyo University to share with students the importance of intercultural communication competency in business. Before he began speaking on this topic with students, Mr. DeWitt shared with students how he built his career. Following this, Mr. DeWitt discussed the idea of culture, focusing on three points: (1) what is culture, (2) types of leaders, (3) inequality and equality of culture.

For the first point, Mr. DeWitt pointed out the complexity of culture, where there exists hidden factors, natural factors and artificial factors. Mr. DeWitt explained Edward Hall’s (1976) iceberg model to students, showing that 12.5% of all culture is about the artificial factors, such as food and drink, and the natural factors, for instance geography and ethnicity. Mr. DeWitt showed that the principal elements of culture are the hidden factors, including thoughts, values, and morals, which represent 87.5% of the iceberg model. He discussed the importance of understanding such factors, using examples that students could easily comprehend.

Next, Mr. DeWitt illustrated two different types of leaders: the commander and the coordinator. The commander is the boss, the one who decides everything independently or has more authority, while the coordinator could be considered the collaborator, implementing a more distributed form of leadership. Mr. DeWitt provided students with examples of cultural contexts where leadership is assumed in different ways. For example, in countries like Japan, it is more difficult for individuals to express individual opinion, as priority is often given to group harmony. Whereas in a country like Australia, the culture is ‘flatter’, therefore individuals are often encouraged and expected to express their opinions. In this way, it can be argued that such cultural contexts appear to show inequality and equality in terms of intercultural communication, especially when looking at leaders and followers and the power distance between individuals.

To sum up, Mr. DeWitt concluded by encouraging students to think about various cultural contexts, types of leadership, and the behavioral perceptions of team members as influenced by culture. In doing this, Mr. DeWitt explained to students that it enables them to consider and visualize the gap between them and others. Overall, the lecture highlighted key elements of intercultural competency and helped students consider the ‘soft-skills’ that are required for effective global business management.

Article by Takumi Kagohashi (COB, 2nd year student)
Photos by Professor Herbert Donovan


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