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Syllabus for Global and Intercultural Competencies at Columbia University, Spring 2003
Thomas D. Zweifel

Global and Intercultural Competencies

Thomas D. Zweifel


Office Hours:

Most leaders and managers assume that this century will be another American century. It may well be; however, few people know that by 2007, the #1 language on the Internet will not be English but Chinese; or that by 2010, 30-40% of top managers at multinational corporations will likely not be American, but Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and Brazilian, representing the largest emerging markets of the 21st century. Top managers in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors who ignore these trends will do so at their peril. In this age of virtual teams, increasingly border-less economies, and highly mobile free agents, the rules have changed. Whether we like it or not, all of us are touched by globalization; but few managers are prepared for the increasingly important task of managing across cultures.

“Global and Intercultural Competencies” aims to prepare students to be global citizens with the intercultural facility necessary to lead and manage in business, government, and nongovernmental organizations anywhere in the world. The course is designed to help students develop cross-cultural skills and to provide them with an understanding of critical issues in the management of multinational or transnational organizations. Topics covered include international leadership skills, cross-cultural negotiations, conflict resolution, ethical dilemmas in cross-cultural environments, global human resource management, and designing and managing global organizational cultures.

The course comes in three parts. Part I (sessions 1-6) provides the theoretical framework and a cross-cultural tool-kit. Part II (sessions 7-10) applies the cross-cultural theories and methods to world regions. Part III (sessions 11-13) focuses on specialized intercultural skills and issues.

Required Readings:

A Course Reader is available for purchase at Village Copier, 115th Street, off Broadway.

Required books are available at Labyrinth Books, 536 W 112 Street, off Broadway.

Hofstede, Geert. 2001. Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Huntington, Samuel P. 1996. The Clash of Civilizations. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Schell, Michael and Charlene M. Solomon. 1997. Capitalizing on the Global Workforce. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Trompenaars, Alfons. 1998. Riding the Waves of Culture. London: Economist Books.

Zweifel, Thomas D. 2002. Culture Clash: Managing the Global High-Performance Team. New York: Swiss Consulting Group.

Requirements and Grading:

  • Completion of all required readings and attendance of all classes.

  • Active participation in class and on the class web site (15% of grade).

  • Midterm exam (20% of grade).

  • Team presentation and facilitation of a case study (25% of grade).

  • Final paper (40% of grade).

Schedule (subject to change):

1. Introduction and Fundamentals

Overview. Requirements. Introductions. Q&A. Teams and cases (who, how to prepare, how to facilitate). Model-building: dependent and independent variables. Counterfactuals.

Kohli, Atul, et al. 1995. “The Role of Theory in Comparative Politics,” in World Politics, vol.48, October 1995.
Nagel, Ernst. 1952. “Problems of Concepts and Theory Formation in the Social Sciences,” in American Philosophical Association (ed.), Science, Language and Human Rights. Philadelphia.
Zweifel, Thomas D. and Patricio Navia. 2000. “Democracy, Dictatorship, and Infant Mortality,” Journal of Democracy 11:2, April. 99-114.

Read (Recommended):
King, Gary, Robert O. Keohane, and Sidney Verba. 1994. Designing Social Inquiry. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Complete “Global Integrator” questionnaire and match yourself against one target culture (

2. Globalization

Globalization: reality or myth? The end of history or the clash of civilizations? Global trade, finance, migration, organizations, summits. The New Human Agenda.

Fukuyama, Francis. 1989. “The End of History?” The National Interest no.16, Summer 1989.
Huntington, Samuel P. 1996. The Clash of Civilizations. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Huntington, Samuel P. 1989. “No Exit – The Errors of Endism,” The National Interest no.17, Fall.

Read (Recommended):
Friedman, Thomas. 2000. The Lexus and the Olive Tree. New York: HarperCollins.
Ohmae, Kenichi. 1990. The Borderless World: Power and Strategy in the Interlinked Economy. New York: HarperCollins.
The Hunger Project. 1995. “Ending Hunger and the New Human Agenda.” New York:

Palestinians vs. Israel: Two Worlds.

3. What Is Culture?

Culture as a construction. The three layers of culture. The drivers of culture: what you don’t know that you don’t know. Standing with the customer; respecting local brands and tastes.

Hofstede, Geert. 2001. Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Sathe, Vijay. 1985. “How to Decipher and Change Organizational Culture,” in R.H. Kilman and Associates, Managing Corporate Cultures. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Read (Recommended):
Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities. London: Verso.

Coca-Cola loses $2 billion sales in Europe.

4. Cross-Cultural Tools

How to decode a national or organizational culture.

Trompenaars, Alfons. 1998. Riding the Waves of Culture. London: Economist Books.
Zweifel, Thomas D. 2002. Culture Clash: Managing the Global High-Performance Team. New York: Swiss Consulting Group.

The Vatican and its global flock.

5. Know Thyself: Cultural Blind-Spots

The four blind-spots of US culture. US hegemony: myth or fact?

Prahalad, C.K. and Kenneth Lieberthal. 1998. “The End of Corporate Imperialism,” Harvard Business Review, July-August. 69-79.
Strange, Susan. 1987. “The Persistent Myth of Lost Hegemony,” International Organization, 41, Autumn.
Milner, Helen and Jack Snyder. 1988. “Lost Hegemony?” International Organization 42, Autumn.
Strange, Susan. 1988. “Reply to Milner and Snyder,” International Organization 42, Autumn.

Read (Recommended):
Tocqueville, Alexis de. 1945. Democracy in America. New York: Alfred Knopf.
Weber, Max. [1930] 1976. The Protestant Ethic and Spirit of Capitalism. London: George Allen and Unwin.

General Electric’s failed merger with Honeywell.

6. Know Thy Enemy: Standing in Their Shoes

US global military policy. Global citizens are like actors, able to “become” a character.

Klare, Michael T. “East-West versus North-South: Dominant and Subordinate Themes in U.S. Military Strategy Since 1945,” in Gillis, John, ed. 1989. The Militarization of the Western World. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Parker, Philip M. 1997. Linguistic Cultures of the World. Westport CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

US Army: from training fighters to training diplomats.

*** Midterm ***

7. Europe

Europe North / South / West / East. Institutions embody value systems and history.

Dawson, Christopher. 1960. Understanding Europe. New York: Doubleday.
Zweifel, Thomas D. 2002. Democratic Deficit? European Union, Switzerland, United States. Lanham MD: Lexington Books.

Read (Recommended):
Barzini, Luigi. 1983. The Europeans. London: Penguin.

Jean Monnet and the United States of Europe.

8. Asia and Pacific Rim

Transforming an entrenched culture.

Barber, Benjamin. 1995. Jihad vs. McWorld. New York: Ballantine Books.
Ghosn, Carlos. 2002. “Saving the Business Without Losing the Company,” Harvard Business Review, January. 37-45.

Read (Recommended):
Beasley, W.G. 1990. The Rise of Modern Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle.
Renwick, George W. 1991. A Fair Go for All: A Guide for Australians and Americans. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, Inc.

Carlos Ghosn and Nissan / Enron in India / Microsoft loses to Linux in China.

9. The Americas

American business culture. Culture change in Latin America.

Kennan, George F. 1984. American Diplomacy (ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Althen, Gary. 1988. American Ways: A Guide for Foreigners in the United States. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, Inc.

Read (Recommended):
Slywotzky, Adrian J., Karl Weber and David J. Morrison. 2000. How Digital Is Your Business? New York: Crown Publishing Group.

The IMF and Argentina / Cemex.

10. Africa


Pradervand, Pierre. 1989. Listening to Africa. New York: Praeger.
The Hunger Project. 1991. “Planning-in-Action: An innovative approach to development.

The Hunger Project in Senegal.

11. Intercultural Communication and Coaching

*** Guest speaker: Nicholas Wolfson, President, New World Consulting ***


Buber, Martin. 1974. I and Thou. New York: Scribner.
Flores, Fernando, and Terry Winograd. 1986. Understanding Computers and Cognition. Norwood NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.
Lipnack, Jessica and Jeffrey Stamps. 1997. Virtual Teams: Reaching Across Space, Time and Organizations With Technology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Zweifel, Thomas D. 2002. Communicate or Die. New York: Swiss Consulting Group.

The UN Global Compact.

12. Cross-National Mergers & Acquisitions

*** Guest speaker: John Adams, President, Adams & Royer ***

The process and pitfalls of cross-national M&As.

Ashkenas, Ronald N., Lawrence J. DeMonaco and Suzanne C. Francis. 1998. “Making the Deal Real: How GE Capital Integrates Acquisitions,” Harvard Business Review January-February. 165-178.
Sebenius, James K. 2002. “The Hidden Challenge of Cross-Border Negotiations,” Harvard Business Review. March.


13. Global Human Resource Management

Global HR deployment and expatriate management: pitfalls and best practices. Expatriate selection. Global compensation policies. A global learning organization.

Schell, Michael and Charlene M. Solomon. 1997. Capitalizing on the Global Workforce. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Danone / Motorola.

14. Final Paper
Due by 21 December 2002. No exceptions.

Appendix: Template for Weekly Case Presentations

Teams of two or three students will present a case study each week for approximately 30 minutes. This entails:

  • doing independent research on an assigned case,

  • explaining the case by critically using the theories in the readings for that week and (if relevant) from the readings for any week up to the presentation,

  • leading a discussion of the case and theories that encourages all students to participate.

Here are some tips for how to produce an effective presentation:

  • Go directly to the heart of the case and come up with an explanatory “puzzle” that is genuinely interesting to you in the context of the course – international organization and accountability/democracy/power. Be crystal clear on your research question.

Case/PuzzleDependent (Outcome) VariableIndependent (Input) Variables
E.g.: Why did the DaimlerChrysler merger go awry? How could the fiasco have been prevented?E.g.: DaimlerChrysler’s stock price went from x in 1998 to y in 2001. The company was forced to terminate 26,000 people and suffered major brain drain.E.g.: DaimlerChrysler failed because of(a) external automobile market conditions or(b) dominance of Daimler people on the joint management board or(c) different quality standards in Germany and the US or(d) other factors…

  • Review the theoretical class readings relevant to your case.

  • Do research using a search machine (e.g. or ABI/Inform).

  • Come up with a hypothesis (e.g. “Jill Barad was fired because she is a woman”) and argument to verify or falsify your hypothesis. Back your argument with theories from the readings. Determine the dependent and independent variables each author presents in their arguments.

  • Begin your presentation by introducing the topic, and why the topic is important.

  • Use handouts and/or transparencies to highlight main points and focus attention on areas for discussion. Keep your visuals simple: as a rule, less is more. For example, use the above template for one visual.

  • It is perfectly legitimate to find that your hypothesis is wrong. The task is not to be right, but to use theories and get a finding.

  • Close your presentation with a set of discussion questions aimed at provoking a good discussion. A visual might help here too. E.g. What could DaimlerChrysler’s chairman Jürgen Schrempp have done differently?

  • Have fun with this. It is like detective work. Don’t make it too hard.

Schedule of Case Presentations

2GlobalizationPalestinians vs. Israel 
3What Is Culture?Coca-Cola 
4Cross-Cultural ToolsThe Vatican and its flock  
5Know Thyself: Cultural Blind-SpotsMicrosoft and China 
6Know Thy Enemy: Standing in Their ShoesUS Army  
7EuropeJean Monnet and the United States of Europe / GE and Honeywell  
8Asia and PacificRim Carlos Ghosn and Nissan / Enron in India 
9The AmericasThe IMF and Argentina / Cemex  
10AfricaThe Hunger Project and national planning in Senegal  
11Intercultural Communication and CoachingUN Global Compact  
12Cross-National Mergers & AcquisitionsDaimlerChrysler  
13Global HR ManagementDanone / Motorola  

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