A detailed, helpful, and well-written guide to developing and sustaining cross-cultural partnerships.

THE ARAB BUSINESS CODE

A manual focuses on making successful professional connections in the Arab world.

In this book, Hornok draws on a long experience working in Arab countries to counsel readers on the most effective ways to deal with businesses in the region. The guide begins with a psychological approach to establishing interpersonal connections, urging readers from other cultures to understand their own mindsets and enter into interactions from an open and nonjudgmental perspective. (Problematic emotions are personified throughout the volume; examples of what Hornok calls “Emotional Hinderers”—“Relentless Judgment,” “Aggressive Inner Critic,” and “Incensed Anger Rascal,” among others—appear in several places, occasionally accompanied by Sung’s illustrations.) The author explores the role of small talk, the importance of family loyalty and bonds, and methods of coming to agreement, with numerous examples provided for each topic. Hornok also addresses cultural taboos and the appropriate use of humor in business settings. Anecdotes from international and Arab businesspeople—some named and some anonymous, with each speaker identified by country of origin and industry—make up much of the narrative. They serve as inspiration for the author’s methodical and persuasive analysis of what was done right and wrong in each situation as well as how the underlying principles of these specific incidents can be more broadly applied. The volume also encourages readers to adopt key strategies like the “From Inside to Outside technique” (fostering a “positive inner attitude”) and “the Gas-Shift-Brake technique” (calculating how much pressure to exert and when to pull back) in their interactions, with Hornok making frequent mention of the concepts throughout the work. Taken together, the book’s elements offer a step-by-step guide to establishing the relationships that make business transactions succeed.

From the manual’s opening pages, the author presents a convincing case for developing cross-cultural understanding as a crucial business skill and a minimum qualification for working internationally. Readers will not be left wondering about the value of the volume’s advice, as the anecdotes provide many stories of deals and sales achieved through understanding local norms and methods. Overgeneralization is always a risk in books that attribute traits to an entire region or culture, but Hornok does much to mitigate this by including a wide range of first-person accounts from Arab professionals throughout the region (“The personal relationship is equally as important as the business relationship itself,” an Omani reports), demonstrating that the values dissected in these pages are more shared reality than stereotype. The “Emotional Hinderers,” which are further discussed in an appendix, can feel overused, especially when Hornok encourages readers to address them directly (“So, dear ‘Relentless Judgment,’ I’m asking you, politely, to relax”). But the anthropomorphizing of emotions detracts little from the volume’s overall effectiveness. The author is knowledgeable about the realities of working in Arab countries and does a good job of transmitting that expertise in an authoritative and straightforward way, acknowledging cultural differences without making value judgments. The section examining small talk as an essential feature of business conversations is particularly well done, showing how extensive preparations for minor discussions can deliver substantial results. On the whole, the book is comprehensive, well organized, and skillfully crafted, a useful tool for Westerners looking to attain a professional win in a different part of the world.

A detailed, helpful, and well-written guide to developing and sustaining cross-cultural partnerships.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-367-26502-1

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2020

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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