The Cultural Orientations Approach and the New Business World


Graphic by the Economist, June 2013

The above graphic shows the known and projected world population growth by region from 1950 to 2050. There are some striking things to take into account. For instance, Europe has the highest rate of population growth in 1950, but its share of growth shrinks by 2013, and altogether disappears by 2050. Compare that to Africa. It goes from no population growth in 1950 to being second in growth in 2050. Meanwhile, Asia’s population will have doubled between 1950 and 2050. Latin America’s population growth is projected to keep up a steady pace. By 2050 there will also be 2 billion more people in the world than there are now.

Over a 100-year span, the population of the world – including the workforce and consumer base – will go from having been predominantly European to mostly African and Asian. The business leaders of the future need to ask themselves how much they know about the preferences of African, Asian and Latin American employees, managers, leaders and consumers. What does it take to be a successful leader in these regions of the world? What captivates and motivates employees and consumers from these regions?

In a business world marked by increasing interconnectedness and expanding diversity, it is essential for leaders to equip their employees and themselves with the cultural skills necessary to communicate and work with others from across the globe.

The overall Cultural Orientations Approach, including individual methods like the four key cultural skills and the Strategic Performance Framework, give people on every level of an organization the resources they need to function across cultural boundaries and create synergies, optimize processes and boost effectiveness.