Hans in Chicago – Act 1

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Hans and 200 American Engineers Hans is German, a senior-level manager, in a major, global German company. He is an excellent manager, very experienced, and a first-rate engineer. About 50 years old, Hans is married, and has two children. He is respected and liked. Hans is a good guy, a … Read more

Hans in Chicago – Act 3

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Obama or McCain The dinner started off just fine. The food was good. The atmosphere started out very positive. Then Hans asked his American colleagues who they favored, Barack Obama or John McCain. It was October 2008, just weeks before the presidential election. Maria, a Democrat, was a native of … Read more

Hans in Chicago – Act 4

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Hans probed further Hans probed further: “Well, I think Obama is really great. He is so smart, a real intellectual, not like George W. Bush. I mean, Bush could hardly formulate intelligent sentences.” Nancy cringed, but tried not to show it. Maria was in full agreement, but smiled discreetly. Jack, … Read more

Hans in Chicago – Act 5

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“Oh, no!” “Oh, no!” thought even Maria. Hans is going in the wrong direction here. Jack quickly pulled out the dessert menu and waived for a waiter, hoping to change the subject of the conversation. Nancy was furious. All three Americans had had some degree of experience with, well, rather … Read more

Hans in Chicago – Act 6

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From furious to outraged And the Americans? Maria started off amazed at how well-informed Hans was about the U.S. Jack was also impressed, but thought that Hans was a bit too enthusiastic. Especially as an outsider picking such sensitive topics about the U.S. Nancy went from furious to outraged, but … Read more

Hans in Chicago – Act 8

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What the Americans did not know When Hans and Evelyn met for lunch on Thursday, they, too, discussed their dinner Tuesday evening. Hans was clearly disappointed. He had hoped for some vigorous debate. Nancy seemed particularly disinterested and disengaged. Like most Germans, he wanted to address topics of substance, and … Read more

Hans in Chicago – Act 9

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What went wrong? SmalltalkIn smalltalk situations Germans consciously choose topics which Americans consider to be controversial. In stark contrast, Americans choose topics which Germans consider to be superficial. Those two approaches could not be more different. “Family”America and Americans have been very present in the lives of Germans – especially … Read more

Hans in Chicago – Act 10

Blake Guidry on Unsplash

The Cost of Cultural Misunderstanding If this and other differences in how the two cultures communicate are constantly at play when Germans and Americans collaborate, what influence or impact will the differences have: LeadershipOn the productivity of the working relationship within the leadership team: meaning between Hans and his German … Read more