Bridging Borders Through Communication with The Culture Map


Many people are more mobile and interact more often with different cultures than previous generations. There are several reasons for this: First, travel has become more accessible and affordable. Second, there has been a significant increase in global migration. Third, companies are more likely to operate globally, and global teamwork is a common feature of this situation. Knowledge abot other cultures and intercultural skills are therefore in demand.


Notable researchers such as Hofstede, Hall and Trompenaars have studied culture extensively over the past decades. Among the younger generation of scholars, Erin Meyer, a French-based American professor born in 1971, has become a prominent figure specialising in cross-cultural management and global leadership. She is currently Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, a world-renowned business school.


Here is an overview of some popular cultural models, including Erin Meyer's, that are used to understand and analyse cultural differences:



Model by

Focus and Most Important Publications


Geert Hofstede



Cultural Dimensions:

Individualism vs Collectivism

Masculinity vs Femininity

Power Distance

Uncertainty Avoidance

Long-term vs Short-term Orientation

Indulgence vs Restraint


Culture's Consequences,

Cultures and Organisations


Questionnaire and survey



Edward T. Hall


Perception of Time and Context:

Monochronic and Polychronic Cultures

High and Low Context



The Hidden Dimension, Beyond Culture,

The Silent Language


Observation and interviews

Richard D. Lewis



Linear-Active, Multi-Active, Reactive


When Cultures Collide


Observation and interviews

Alfonsus Trompenaars


Cultural Dimensions:

Universalism vs Particularism

Individualism vs Communitarianism

Specific vs Diffuse

Neutral vs Emotional

Achievement vs Ascription

Sequential vs Synchronic Time

Internal Direction vs Outer Direction


Riding the Waves of Culture


Questionnaire and survey                         

Erin Meyer


8 key scales for mapping cultural differences regarding

communicating, evaluating, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing and scheduling


The Culture Map


Observation and interviews



The above cultural models are widely used and recognised for their contribution to understanding cultural differences. However, they are not without their critics. Some of the reasons why these models are criticised include:

They often rely on generalisations that reduce complex cultures to a few dimensions or categories, with the risk of neglecting the rich diversity within them. It is also important to recognise that cultures are not homogeneous entities, but are made up of individuals with different values, beliefs and behaviours, making it difficult to accurately categorise entire nations or societies.


Another common criticism is that cultural models are often developed from a Western perspective, which can result in a biased and ethnocentric perspective from which other cultures are viewed, neglecting the nuances and specificities of non-Western societies.


Furthermore, the models often overlook the crucial role of historical, social, economic and political contexts in shaping cultures. Critics argue that cultural values and behaviours are influenced by a wide range of factors. Ignoring these contextual aspects can lead to misunderstandings and oversimplifications.


Finally, culture is not static and evolves over time. Cultural models may not capture the changing dynamics and adaptations that occur within cultures. Using static categories in the face of changing cultural dynamics may limit their applicability and accuracy.


Despite these criticisms, cultural models can still provide a useful starting point for understanding how values may differ between cultures, and the misunderstandings this can cause. It is important to approach cultural models with an open mind, acknowledging their limitations and recognising the importance of individual experiences and variations within cultures.



In her book, The Culture Map (2014), Erin Meyer draws on her personal experiences to explore the impact of cultural differences on the business world. The book introduces the Culture Map framework, an insightful tool that sheds light on various intercultural issues relevant in business contexts. Meyer's work is based on extensive research and her direct involvement with professionals from different cultures around the world. Throughout the book, she explores how different cultures approach crucial issues such as feedback, hierarchy, communication, teamwork and time management.


The Culture Map goes beyond theoretical discussions by offering practical insights, presenting case studies and using comparative charts to enhance successful cross-cultural interactions. While not all aspects seem to be based on empirical evidence, the book is a valuable resource because it offers a more nuanced perspective than the work of many other researchers. For example, it highlights nuances such as how Americans, in contrast to their direct communication style, tend to be more indirect when giving negative feedback. In addition, Meyer provides practical guidance for individuals working in international teams.

Given its comprehensiveness and practicality, I can recommend The Culture Map to anyone involved in international teams or simply interested in expanding their knowledge of the subject.



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