The dynamic between US based HQs and remote/offshore sites


For 35 years, I have consulted Israelis, Indians, Chinese, Thais, Taiwanese, Russians, Japanese, Dutch and Germans about working with people in American HQs.

Here are the top 5 recurring issues and observations.

1) “I seem to get the feeling that they expect that we will become more like them.” In other words, there is an expectation that over time, people will “develop” and become more American in the way they do business.

2) “Behind the polite veneer, informality and calling people by their first name so quickly, I am always given the feeling I am an outsider”. In other words, far from being only disarming, American informality is seen as deceiving at times.

3) “I get the feeling that terms like top down, big picture, distinguishing the forest from the trees has created a management system with lack of attention to detail.” There focus on the big picture is seen as apparent lack of concern for details.

4) “I never assume that the guy with whom I am dealing  cares more about the company than his career”. Non Americans are astonished about how loyal American managers appear to be to their career as opposed to the firm for which they work.

5) “Why don’t you come over some time” actually means nothing!”. Behind the friendly  civility is a chill.

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9 thoughts on “The dynamic between US based HQs and remote/offshore sites

  1. מסכים עם כל מילה.
    אפשר לראות בכך גישה פטרנליסטית: אנחנו יודעים הכי טוב כי אנחנו אמריקה ,ואפשר לראות זאת כפרובינציאליות גרידא: תולעת שאיננה מכירה אלא את החזרת שלה ואפילו שהיא גדולה, כל ארה”ב, זו עדיין רק חזרת אחת. אני גורס שזו פרובינציאליות ולכן לא נעלב ולא מתעצבן.

  2. Seems pretty universal, Allon – I’ve seen the same in U.S. only companies.

    1 of the things that I learned early on in my career is that once the decision makers become physically removed from the front line activities (i.e., corporate offices located in facilities physically separated from the actual work locations of the organization), the effectiveness of decision making drops catastrophically.

    • Robin
      There are parts which are universal and parts which is usa unique. The Dutch will apdapt themselves to others, assuming that their way is not universally acceptable.
      The Germans will also try not to impose their way.
      The Israelis will never say “our way is best”; they are technically arrogant but know that their messy way of doing things is not scalable.

  3. In USA people used to be (it seemed to me) more loyal to companies, but the emergence of the RIF (reduction in force) as a standard operating procedure was the death knell to much of that loyalty (though it was certainly not the only factor).

  4. There is some truth is each of these statements, but their brevity also misses some truths. In particular, #5 makes Americans seem cold. In fact, Americans are superficially cheery and welcoming because of their ongoing history of mobility and needing to network/adapt. The fact that they seldom invite people over to their houses (as implied with “let’s get together”) is because Americans are fairly private; their family time/personal time is, well, just that.

  5. אלון שלום, אני קוראת בעיון את הפוסטים שלך, והם חדי מחשבה. תודה
    ספציפית לפוסט הזה, נקודות 2 ו-5 מזכירות לי רגשות שלי ושל קולגות שלי בחברה הישראלית, בה עבדנו שנרכשה ע”י חברה אמריקאית.
    היום בראייה לאחור , ועם הידע בהיבטים בין תרבותיים, אני רואה ויודעת את המשמעות של הדברים, ויכולה להסביר וגם לקבל את דרך ההתנהגות.
    ולכן אני לא רואה זאת באופן שלילי אלא כעוד צורת התנהגות שיש לה הגיון משל עצמה.
    As Craig Storti wrote: ” People and systems usually act rationally; you just have to find the rationale ”
    Thank you.

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