Cultural Types: The Lewis Model

The Lewis Model: How to understand every culture in the world

Cultural Types: The Lewis Model“Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception; however, there is such a thing as a national norm. By focusing on the cultural roots of national behavior, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us.”

When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures, now in its third edition, has sold more than one million copies since it was first published in 1996 and was called “an authoritative roadmap to navigating the world’s economy,” by the Wall Street Journal.

“The Lewis Model” plots countries in relation to three categories:

Linear-actives — those who plan, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time. Germany, Switzerland, and the U.S. are in this group.

Multi-actives — those lively, loquacious cultures that do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule, but according to the relative thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it. Italy, Latin America and Arab countries are members of this group.

Reactives — those cultures that prioritize courtesy and respect, listening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side’s proposals. Vietnam, Japan, China and Korea are in this group.

Cultural Types- The Lewis Model - 2 Read more: When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures

Great resource to help you understand the cultures you’ll encounter when working abroad. The first half provides an overview of cultures and how they are formed, etc. The second half is full of short 5 page overviews of cultures by country. A great combination of background (1st half) and country specifics (2nd ahlf) that you can reference as necessary depending on where business takes you.

Richard Lewis, an expert on cross-cultural and language training who has tutored clients from Swedish corporate executives to the Japanese Imperial Family, discusses the need to consider cross-cultural differences in managing any company in today’s global world. He suggests a broad model you can use to characterize different national characteristics as linear-active, multi-active, and reactive. These traits shape attitudes toward time, leadership, team building, and affect a range of organizational behaviors. Lewis includes brief national profiles you can refer to when doing business away from home. This in-depth book covers common patterns in different cultures, and offers many examples of how different groups act under different situations. We at getAbstract recommend this book to top executives, managers and anyone who works in a multicultural business environment, as well as to general readers with a yen for informed people watching.

If you would like to find out more about CultureActive, click here for a multimedia introduction to the Lewis Model that underpins the online tools.