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April 23, 2009


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Wei, I believe that one of the results of such a discussion is to begin to create an internal scaffold for the new knowledge. Even in a short period of time, we are able to enhance our ability to absorb what we originally saw as very much out of our experience.


Kate, I do believe that having a visceral experience facilitates the internalization of our insights. You point out the importance of admitting our cultural differences. That becomes easier to do when we do have some way of being objective about our differences. A common model or a common vocabulary as you mention can be helpful here. Also, having shared models or ways of understanding and talking about our respective cultural contexts helps us move beyond surface conflicts to arrive at some deeper understanding of others.


Barry - Thanks for the excellent talk. What impressed me most was how fundamentally and profoundly ones cultural background affect how one interprets knowledge and subsequently absorbs knowledge, and how big a change sharing this cultural background can make. Upon hearing the unfamiliar knowledge, each of us tried very hard to understand it by associating it with something we were familiar with, and we intended to reject something we couldn't make the associations. However, after a short discussion on the background, many of us seemed to be able to appreciate the differences and enjoy the strange music a lot more!

Kate Pugh

Barry - I enjoyed your presentation, especially for the visceral experience you gave us of our cultural difference. (Read: Permission to admit to not relating to the Korean wailing horn and loud clashes).
Indeed, it's important to talk about the cultural context. Example: Being told that Program A must ceed to program B, when Program A participants feel the first one has merit -- even superior financial merit to Program B. I have had that experience frequently as a manager, and found myself and others blaming the "politics," rather than expression of cultural differences. Perhaps if we had a vocabularly to describe intra-organizational culture differences, we'd be able to backdrop the investment debates with a larger dialogue around culture differences between the funding departments.

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