Effective supplement for cross cultural training.

Author:Tith, Pat Zakian
Position:Online training - Employee development

GlobeSmart, online, 1999, Meridian Resources Associates (800-626-2047 www.meridianglobal.com), $10,000 to $65,000.

GlobeSmart is a web-based tool that gives detailed information on how to conduct business in 35 countries. Information is provided on how to communicate effectively, manage employees, transfer technology and skills, and improve relationships with customers and suppliers. The instruction provides a practical "eye opener" that you can apply immediately. The amount of content is just enough. Too much would be overwhelming, and too little would be superficial.

You enter the site by providing a user name and password. (A potential buyer can gain access as a guest [http://www.GlobeSmart.com] and work through three pre-selected countries. The demo gives you a good feeling for the "personality" of the tool.) Then you have two choices: either go directly to a country or take the quick tour. I recommend the quick tour because it reveals dimensions of the tool that you could miss.

The next step is to select your country of interest. Across the top of the window you see a series of buttons. Examples: Select a country, Self-assessment profile, Global tips, and Business skills, customs, and country facts. When the country selection is made, the map of the country with key cities and the national flag appear, along with a menu tree of topics on the lefthand side of the window. There you can access detailed information on business skills, culture and customs, and country facts. The section on safety for foreigners is helpful but could be improved by suggesting that they routinely check in with their embassy or consulate.

Whenever you select a subject area, there is always a link to "A note about stereotypes" that reminds the user that there is no such thing as a cultural absolute, a critical point for anyone working internationally. The program includes the ability to write about your own experience, a powerful feature. This capability breathes life into the information provided and personalizes it because it is based on someone's own experience in, for example, evaluating employees in China. The notes are cross referenced by topic to other countries.

Features in depth

Here is a brief description and evaluation of a few of the main sections of the site:

Global tips gives a quick overview of areas to be considered when working globally. A useful section makes suggestions for working with Muslim colleagues. The section on Business Ethics is...

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