What’s hard to understand about American corporate life for non US based folks

In decades of work with Asian, Mid Eastern and Asian managers, there seems to be a common thread of things that non US based folks have a problem of grasping, understanding and accepting about their US based confreres. Here are the top 3 in my experience

1) The ease with which US based managers leave to promote their career.

Of course, people all over the world do so, but apparently with more of a sense of shame. The ease with which this happens causes lack of personal  trust because “Bill may not be here in the long run, so his judgement is suspect”.

2) Our way is the “right” way

There is no lack of culturally sensitive people based in the US. However, either due to sheer power stemming from the US corporate or due to size  or some national psyche, US managers tend to look at other people’s ways of doing business as eccentric quirks, while their behaviour is the right way.

“Ok guys”, said Bill, “stop arguing and let’s meet half way”….the “right way”, thinks Bill.

3) Using Legal means to bridge trust issues

In many parts of the world, you build trust with people and do business, with Legal providing some artillery cover where absolutely needed. It is common practice for US based managers to take huge risks doing business with people they do not know or trust, hedging their risks by legal means. This flabergasts people all over the world.

Bill ended his meeting with Francois and texted his  Legal VP: “I’ve done my part-just finish it up”.

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4 thoughts on “What’s hard to understand about American corporate life for non US based folks

  1. A reminder: Values drive beliefs, beliefs drive behaviors.
    1) US Value: individuality. Behavior: opportunities for self-actualization
    2) US Value: Achievement. Behavior: “My way is better” (human assumption, not just the USA, but USA has more to show than many other countries, and likes showing)
    2.1 US Value: Change & Innovation. Behavior: “just came up with the latest right version!”
    3) US Value: Achievement builds trust. Behavior: Show you have done your part, then let others do their, including the legal guy. (In other countries relationships built trust instead)
    3.1. US Value: Legality. Behavior: “it not illegal to do such…” “Legal has to be involved” (reliance on the written word and the system beyond the individual

    Values are generally not thought about, we just act accordingly…


    Rossana Johnston

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