The Importance of Being Cross-Cultural

Jürgen Schrempp

When it comes to business growth, mergers and acquisitions have always been a hot topic. Originally focused on national markets, they have become increasingly international. This means that lately cross-cultural skills have become crucial for the success of billion-dollar deals. As such a merger is a very complicated operation that involves unification of assets, finances and organizational structures. This alone can be extremely difficult and lead to failure. However, if additionally you have to keep in mind the cultural differences of the merging partners, the task can become almost impossible to resolve successfully.

The former Daimler boss Jürgen Schrempp could certainly tell a lot about this topic. When Daimler-Benz and Chrysler merged in 1998, most people thought that it was the first step towards the creation of a highly successful worldwide car company. Some years later it was clear that Schrempp had underestimated the complexity of the task. To be sure, DaimlerChrysler had many different problems. But there is no doubt that the differences between the German and the American business cultures were at heart of many misunderstandings. Finally, both companies parted ways in 2007. However, the question about the right way to handle cross-cultural communication has not disappeared.

In the meantime, the amount of transnational business operations has increased significantly. That is why it is so important for managers to train themselves how to move smoothly through culturally different business environments. And thus maybe to avoid mistakes that cost Jürgen Schrempp and Daimler millions of dollars. Get ready, it’s time to become cross-cultural!

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