Expatriate Debrief While in Berlin I Visited Essay

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Expatriate Debrief

While in Berlin, I visited a large art museum where, as in most parts of Europe, I was surrounded by people from all over the world. Docents guided small groups of people through the museum, talking about the art in the native language of the groups of people. A group of Japanese people were guided by a quiet, polite, and diminutive middle-aged woman. I don't understand Japanese so I couldn't effectively eavesdrop -- but it wouldn't have mattered if I did because she was so soft spoken -- her group members pressed close around her -- that I wouldn't have been able to hear what she said without closing the physical gap in an obvious manner. The group of Spanish-speaking visitors enthusiastically gave eye contact to those around them, gave way to others as they moved about the room, and often linked arms or touched the hands of people in their group. A large, loud-spoken woman stood well away from the German-speaking group. Her group members spread out in front of whatever work of art they were admiring, such that, they took up three times the space they needed to accomplish their viewing and their discussion. The German docent seemed unaware that there were other visitors in the room, her guttural phrases bouncing off the uncarpeted floors and the bare ceilings, in an intrusive staccato.

This is not an exaggeration, nor is it meant to be stereotypical. National personality is regularly manifested, even in these days of a fast, flat world.

East Africa -- Tanzania

Leaders in Tanzania may be a bit pugnacious and duplicitous. Everything is in short supply in Tanzania, except perhaps, hubris. The country is highly politicized and so too is private industry. As an indicator of the potential issues an individual might encounter in Tanzania, the ratings of the Global Integrity Report for 2010 was consulted. There has not been much change in three years time, since the last assessment was conducted. The anti-corruption agency is ineffective and investigations of politically sensitive issues are avoided. A Freedom of Information bill drafted in 2006 has still not been enacted. Elections are generally fair, but no electoral monitoring occurs, and there are no regulations -- or poorly enforced regulations -- for financing of political candidates campaigns or political parties. Political loyalty of police in the execution of their duties in expected and rewarded.

A business leader in Tanzania will have likely been through years (up to 35 years) of socialism, the memories of which are still very salient in the country ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). The business community is still at high risk and is plagued by a number of substantive problems, including bureaucratic difficulties, corruption, poor infrastructure, political weakness, lost organizational skills, high interest rates, and a deficient legal environment ("Global Integrity Report," 2011).

Diversity in Tanzania is represented by the Asian population ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). Indigenous business enterprises tend to look on the Asians living in Tanzania with considerable bias ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). Overt antagonism towards Asians has been based on beliefs that they concentrate their business activities in trade and avoid fixed assets -- in other words, they take assets out of the country -- and that they corrupt the political systems ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). There is a growing empathic understanding of the unfair practices and traumas that have been inflicted on Asians in the past ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). Multinational enterprises have been increasing in Tanzania, and the division between the informal sector and the formal or official sector has been shifting ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). Business ownership shows an enormous gender gap ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). Tanzania business leaders consider the Tanzanian state to be an obstacle in the development of business enterprise rather than a source of information, support, and funding ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). Relationships between business and the state apparatus are replete with mutual suspicion and adversarial encounters ("Global Integrity Report," 2011). Virtually every transaction between a business person and a bureaucrat includes some element of corruption ("Global Integrity Report," 2011).

Western Europe -- Germany

To describe the leadership traits of German leaders, we look to the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) of 2007, which is a longitudinal study conducted on a household basis with a focus on self-perceptions of personality, professional circumstances, and private situations…[continue]

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