In view of progressive globalisation, intercultural competence is essential for companies’ commercial success. But only those who pay attention at the details, global cooperation becomes a success factor.
The international scene offers companies an unlimited number of opportunities – there are new markets to be opened up and, in times of a shortage of skilled employee, and increasing specialisation, recruits are to be obtained from all around the world. All these processes ensure considerable tension in internationally active companies. “How can I persuade Indian business partners about my services? Why did my Chinese partner give me a clear “yes”, only for me to find out later that the project will now not go through? How can I put together a team efficiently if American, Spanish and Swedish colleagues have completely different values and Ideas? And why do Russian job applicants always look so serious in the photos attached to their applications?
Companies and institutions pay a high price for intercultural misunderstandings. The costs of business meetings, international projects and sending employees to foreign cultural environments quickly reach dizzy heights – and often fail due to a lack of sensitivity for the other culture. Intercultural awareness goes far beyond greeting ceremonies and seating arrangements in business meetings. Knowledge about specific cultural features and communication behaviour, hierarchical mentalities and time management are all crucial when dealing with other cultures, as is the right degree of appreciation, tolerance and acceptance.
ICUnet.AG stands for permanence in international orientation. Located in Passau on the banks of the Danube, the company is not concerned with generating hydro-electric power, but rather with promoting intercultural energy. The intercultural consulting firm assists companies and organisations in matters of international orientation and global mobility. As a leader in service, quality and innovation, it is the partner of numerous companies and institutions in all matters concerning intercultural consulting, developing intercultural competence, assessment and global mobility. Its over 12 locations in Germany and abroad and over 150 permanent employees and 350 contract employees and consultants ensure that the company is a local partner and contact for companies all around the world.
ICUnet.AG is a “systems supplier” of the ICU® solution: ICUnet.AG is unique in the world in linking individual solutions to an overall concept for international orientation. Intercultural consulting, developing competence, analysing potential and global mobility complement and define each other and make it possible to offer customised solutions. As the company in its sector with the most awards (including the Best of Consulting, European Business Awards, Deutscher Gründerpreis (German start-up award) or Deloitte Technology Fast 50), ICUnet.AG – including in 2014 – won the prize as “Germany’s most client-oriented service provider” for the fifth time in succession.
Transformers combine various tension levels of a power network and convert induced voltage into high tension for feeding into the grid. The annual Intercultural Congress organised every year by ICUnet.AG in cooperation with the city of Passau mainly generates a regional hub of global know-how and intercultural high performance. Which trends will influence the international management of tomorrow? How does global cooperation become a success factor? Speakers such as Dr Milton Bennett, Ph.D., Director at the Intercultural Development Research Center, Prof. Dr Geert Hofstede, emeritus Professor of Organisational Anthropology and International Management at the University of Maastricht, and Philip Mountford, CEO at Hunkemöller International BV, share their very personal international experience.
Generators are driven by the force of their turbines. Innovations guarantee a comparable force in daily business. ICUnet.AG continually expands its innovative leadership both through research projects with universities around the world and through new, trendsetting developments. This is institutionalised through its own “Innovation Lab”, the icu®LAB. Innovative developments are made together with clients and guarantee sustainability. ICUnet.AG distinguishes itself in particular through continued development and optimisation of service quality, particularly in client service. This year as well, it won an award for its innovative achievements – the Medium-Sized Sector Initiative awarded its tool ICU NeXt Destination (IND) the “Innovation Prize IT 2014” in the category “BEST OF Promotional Services”. This secondment management tool accelerates and optimises relocation processes, where all relevant process data of a given overseas posting are methodically recorded on computer, documented and are available both for the posted client him/herself, the personnel looking after him/her and the contracting relocation service provider at all times and worldwide. Thus, the tool promises effective and transparent data control and considerably reduces complexity. Mr Alexander Veit, Head of Global Mobility Services at Siemens AG Austria, emphasises the tool’s other advantages: “The IND creates transparency, saves time and aids cost efficiency. Our users have had very positive experience with the IND because it is very simple to use and requires no particular technical skills. In everyday work in particular, the IND is very pleasant to use.”
And by the way: Russian job applicants don’t smile because such conduct in their culture is interpreted as unprofessional. Smiling and the expression of all types of emotion are restricted to private life and are exchanged only in the family circle or with good friends. Intercultural cooperation can only lead to the hoped-for increase in efficiency if special cultural characteristics are given room in the team. The basis is mutual understanding and respect for the other culture. ICUnet.AG provides advice and support in overcoming these intercultural hurdles and achieving long-lasting international success.
The author accumulated valuable international experience as a project leader in Ecuador, Columbia, Peru and Brazil. Inspired by intercultural differences, he studied languages, commerce and regional studies at the University of Passau and gained valuable experience and language skills during stays in Spain, Russia and Portugal. In 2001, Dr. Audebert put his intercultural business concept into practice and formed ICUnet.AG. Dr. Audebert is happily married and he and his wife Cäcilia have three children.