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dimanche 23 août 2015


A good friend of mine is doing a course on Cross Cultural Business Management at a well-known university in Asia. It made me think of the interest spiked by globalization of recent years. The Online magazine Strategy+Business occasionally has articles of cultural interest to Business students/people. There is a parallel rise to in objectifying these to the tremendous rise in our understanding of how our brains function. One example would be Prof Ramachandran’s work on why and how are people attracted to Art, whether a Picasso or Miro or the proliferation of “naïve” art brought by backpacker tourism.

(what makes us think of Divinity when you look at the face above?)

The role of the anthropologist is to observe and what my friend is doing is participant-observation. She can observe, analyze; but that analysis is based on her experience in the field of business. Thus she can advise people in “business” about cultural awareness to enhance the milieu of transactions.
She is perhaps unique in her approach because of her capacity for collaboration. In my field of Medicine, collaboration has become the benchmark of quality, doctors are not judged as carpenters or plumbers, orthopedic and urologic surgeons fell into the category in the past, but are judged by their capacity to collaborate.
On my flight today I was reading an article about changes in workspace. The new concepts of work spare in the innovative world, does away with individual offices, If concepts like WeWork spread through the corporate world, since they are darlings of Silicon Valley, a presence would be formidable such as shown by their presence in Manhattan.
The writer had this to say:
What it means to work in this world today can be summed up in one word: Collaboration

That brought forth thoughts about a mutual friend, Dr. Ta Tan Sen, a tireless humanist entrepreneur from Singapore who propagated the ideas of the greatest Chinese Admiral, Zheng He or Cheng Ho. He has published a book (written by a professor of Business from Singapore University): Zheng He and the Art of Collaboration. It is amazing to think that 600 years ago when the current business titans of the west were foraging in forests, the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho backed by his Emperor practiced Collaboration, with the many cultures and kings and courts he came across. The cultures were many and he was in the commanding position, much like the Business Conglomerates of today. From small kingdoms and sultanates in Indonesia to Kenya, from Indian Subcontinent through Straits of Hormuz, he was humble and offered not to conquer or dominate but to collaborate and show them the gem qualities of the Culture he represented. The objective was exchange and gifts and not profit but the profit was not individual gain but a great contribution to humanity, as he is remembered everywhere he had visited and to this day his contributions, such as the Chinese Fishing Nets provide employment to many! This after 6 centuries!
In my travels through poorer and developing countries makes me realize how philosophical and forward looking was Fidel Castro when he pronounced years ago that the Globalization would bring on poverty to many and wealth to some. The gifts to the poor has been cheap polyester clothes and latest style haircuts and to the rich, holidays in the west To this day the rich from the poor and developing countries spend their money and time and holidays in the richer countries of the west! Rather than the poorer sister countries.
Like Zheng He, our Jefe Comandante, a latter day Revolutionary was adamant about the negative aspects of globalization without collaboration. To mark his 89th birthday, just recently, Fidel said:  Cuba is committed to goodwill and peace in our hemisphere but added, “We will never stop fighting for the peace and welfare of all human beings, regardless of the colour of their skin and which country they come from.”
If you listen to the current presidential contenders of the USA, any intelligent person would embrace Fidel’s view of collaboration with the world, especially the developing nations, rather than the conservative philosophy expounded by the politicians at the hopeful Presidential level who want ME, much more than the WE approach to the world...
Just one example. The medical schools in the USA, reflecting the conservative and capitalist philosophy of its graduates, do not educate a single poor student from a developing country with the specific intention of returning him back to serve his or her people. All foreign medical graduates are kept for services in the USA. In contrast, Cuba a poor country educates more than 20 000 poor students in Medicine alone so that they can go back and serve their people. Just recently I was told that a native Ticuna Indian had returned to his Amazon River home to serve his people, after his studies in Cuba! 14500 dedicated Doctors from Cuba are working in Brazil, serving people who have never had easy access to Doctors. I was told of a young lady doctor who will work at the Indian community at Torrentins along a tributary of the Amazon River which is 9 hours by boat from the remote small town of Tabatinga in the Brazilian Amazon!
That is collaboration with a large dose of Humanism
(travelling along the Amazon River under an overcast sky)

So, as the flight is about to land, I thank my good friend MC and this romp through the Asian business and collaborative mind.

And Dr. Ta Tan Sen and his work to further the collaborative work of the greatest naval admiral ever lived, the Chinese Navigator, Zheng He/Cheng Ho
This photo of Tay Kak Sie Temple is courtesy of TripAdvisor