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So I did some reading about the Lewis Cross Culture Model, very interesting tool for international marketing specialists, such as myself. This Model was published in the 90s, but the cultural categories couldn’t have changed much since, therefore the recommended behaviours, communication manners and channels remain pretty much the same.

The Lewis model offers a blueprint for cultural analysis and simplifies cultures’ categorization. Valid, marketing-applicable conclusions can be drawn from understanding the particularities of each category, as well as recommendations regarding the best way to interact with each typology.

According to Lewis model, there are three main cultural categories, under which different nations can be grouped:

1st The Linear active: task oriented, data oriented, highly organized, planners (e.g. Germany, Sweden)

2nd The Multi-active: people-oriented, loquacious, dialogue-oriented, interrelators (e.g. Italy, Spain, France, Latin America)

3rd The Reactive: introvert, respect-oriented, listeners. (e.g. Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam).

Surely, these cultural categories are often intertwined, and other combinations of traits are possible (e.g some reactive traits are also found with Finns, Swedes, British).

What I did was to read about this in order to gain awareness and understand about how’s best to act when dealing with each type. And here are my findings:

With the Linear active culture, you need to:

  • be punctual
  • be factual
  • speak in numbers
  • use logical arguments
  • plan thoroughly
  • communicate your agenda
  • allocate equally the conversation space
  • don’t interrupt
  • receive direct statements regarding facts
  • point to short term profit
  • follow rules
  • respect your part of the deal
  • focus on the rationale rather than on feelings
  • take your commitments seriously
  • communicate effectively in writing.

With the Multi-active culture, you need to:

  • be flexible
  • make room for emotional display
  • focus their multitasking attention
  • speak on feelings more than on facts
  • listen to opinions rather than figures
  • have a people-oriented approach
  • interrupt, be interrupted and keep up with the overlapping conversation
  • listen to various excuses
  • embrace an uncertain truth
  • notice bending of rules / stipulations
  • expect to hear more than they intended to reveal
  • take your commitments as generic guidelines
  • expect slow communication in writing, due to preference for spoken message.

With the Reactive culture, you need to:

  • be careful with your actions
  • be patient in getting a response
  • wait for your turn in the conversation
  • respect the other party timing in addressing things
  • be polite and restrained
  • be a good networker and cultivate connections
  • make compromise for the relationship’s sake
  • use diplomacy and avoid confrontations
  • cover the ethical, correctness and harmony aspects
  • demonstrate long-term gains
  • revisit and re-arrange your commitments when needed
  • use face-to-face communication rather than written approach
  • expect delays in reactions due to lateral clearances.

*Post based on “Cross Culture: The Lewis Model” by Richard Lewis Communication, published in 1990, Revised Edition 2000.


About the author: Roxana has 6+ years of experience of in business-to-business operational and strategic marketing, market research, product development, competition monitoring, pre-sales support and communication. Roxana is currently working as international marketing manager in the headquarters of a major software provider in Central Eastern Europe, with multi-country operations. Previously, she has worked in marketing positions in the credit risk management & business information services industries. Roxana Toma received her BSc in Journalism & Communication in 2004 from the University of Bucharest, Romania. After that, she has completed the Stage One of the MBA program from the Open University Business School in UK. She blogs about her experience & readings in international marketing on www.zoominglocal.com.

Contact Roxana Toma via email at: rx.ionescu[at]gmail.com and connect on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/rxtoma.