Intercultural Skills for a Global Environment

Frank Rouault, a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) graduate at Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM), is currently working on the cultural motivations that guide individuals. His work highlights the keys that help turn diversity into an advantage for any company.


More and more companies are faced with the challenges of intercultural management and interactions both internal and external. "However, when faced with diversity, a small minority of individuals react with ethnocentric views and a lack of empathy." explains Frank Rouault. It only takes one or a few ethnocentric team members to destabilize an entire company.

Ethnocentrism, or the desire to judge others solely on the values or standards of one's own culture, is a reaction generally caused by ignorance about not only others, but ourselves as well. Understanding oneself and others is the key to successfully creating a diverse company environment. According to the approach developed by Frank Rouault, overcoming this challenge passes through understanding the cultural motivations behind each individual. "You have to understand the combination of unique forces, specificities and cultural trends that guide the various behaviors within a specific group."

Frank Rouault manages the French consultancy firm "Practical Learning the smart way to learn (tm)" which is specialized in professional development. His goal is to help mankind develop efficient and comfortable methods for intercultural interactions in order to provide companies with a competitive advantage.

Take the French for example. Often seen as team members that are always complaining, they can be transformed into the members who know how to question work methods. Frank Rouault works with organizations through several phases. The first is to help team members become aware of their own cultural motivators. "This realization is essential for self-awareness. Following this understanding, we can better understand how others see and judge our actions." explains the DBA graduate.

The second phase is to help individuals express their realizations with other team members so that each individual learns to recognize his or her teammates. By recognizing each others' differences, team members can also recognize that they are motivated by the same goals and that they simply have different ways of expressing and acting on these desires.

Frank Rouault was thus able to highlight the cultural motivators found in 75 countries. "Diversity causes complexity and therefore sometimes misunderstanding and slowness. However, it also means there is an incredible richness within a company. It provides the resources necessary to solve complex problems and make the best long term decisions." explains Michelle Mielly, a professor at GEM and Franck Rouault's thesis supervisor.

Companies have every reason to use intercultural differences as a strategic tool for their development and innovation capacity. Unfortunately these differences are often perceived as negative issues that require companies to solve culture shocks. Franck Rouault sees the challenge from the opposite perspective: "Companies have to change their perspective in order to develop an internal approach that is nomad, mixed and open to a multitude of views. This will make diversity a key pillar for their growth in the 21st century."