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Friday, September 26, 2008

A meet with Philo

Had drinks with an old colleague of mine, Philo, who now lives and works in NYC. It was interesting to hear about her experience with the American culture. She loved her work here, but said there were clear differences. Example: she's pregnant and pregnant women keep working until the last day of their pregnancy, if they can't afford leave without pay. Women rush to the hospital from behind their desk and are back at it after a month. Talk about work ethics. But they have to, because the work culture is very opportunistic and short term, in America, she found out. She also mentioned the hierarchy in work relations and the American need for structure: if she won't state exactly what she wants to get done, it won't get done. Where in Holland everyone wants to know what the long term company goal is, so they can work towards it, most Americans want to know what they have to do day by day. This means a lot of talk about the end goals in Holland, but also a lot of meetings about the daily process in America. It also shows in daily behavior: so much more daily things are regulated in New York. The government tells you what to do and what not to do much more often than in Holland. On the other hand: what's not regulated, is 'free-for-all' terrain. Yes, we noticed, looking at the financial institutions. And on the sideway: paper to be recycled is placed in huge plastic (!) bags on the sideway. One of those huge bags was filled with no more than 2 pizzaboxes and an empty shoebox..
The American culture is more extreme, it's always flips from the front of the coin to the back, while the Dutch often end up with a very broad in-between area: we keep balancing on the side. Cultural differences, they keep popping up, shame they are still so little studied in day to day business.

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