1. What’s the difference between a “culture–specific package” and a “topic-specific package”?
  2. What’s the difference between a Challenge Lens and a Values Lens?


  1. What’s the difference between culture-general and culture-specific knowledge and skill?
  2. What is some of the key theory underlying the Cultural Detective?


What’s the difference between a “culture-specific package” and a “topic-specific package”?

The majority of our packages focus on particular cultures, for example, Cultural Detective Singapore or Cultural Detective Islam. Each “culture-specific” package investigates the cultural values and behaviors of a culture (Singapore or Islam, or sometimes multiple cultures, as with CD LGBT or CD Men and Women), how the values of this culture influence behavior within the culture, and how these same values and behaviors can be misunderstood and negatively perceived by those not from the culture.

Remember that we define “culture” very broadly. For example, you get those “young kids” working with the “old timers” and what do you have? Cultures in collision! Fear not—Cultural Detective Generational Harmony provides clues to make your management style more effective, or to enhance work or personal relationships between and among these very different cultures.

Often we are in a situation where there are multiple people, from multiple cultures, with multiple functions, in multiple time zones. So many cultures, so many different styles, yet one goal—to work or communicate better together.

Therefore, a few of our packages investigate “topics” that may cause friction, or situations that can easily lead to misunderstanding.

How about that team that just isn’t coming together as you wished? Perhaps the topic-specific package, Cultural Detective Global Teamwork, would give you a clue. Combining theory and practical advice for all involved, the Cultural Detective Method is used to analyze and help facilitate the smooth functioning of a team, no matter where members are located.

Or maybe you are about to come back to your passport country after a multiple-year professional assignment overseas. What challenges will you face? What should you expect? Cultural Detective The Return provides ideas to understand and smooth your transition “home.”

Don’t forget that using culture-specific and topic-specific packages in conjunction with each other may provide additional insight. For example, what might be some of the challenges upon your return, and how might your family’s values and expectations influence your response? Check out the Challenge Lens in CD The Return, and use the Values Lens from your home culture or from CD Self Discovery to guide some advanced planning and thought.

Maybe you have become used to living away from your family, and that may not be the expectation upon your return. Look at your host country’s Values Lens and the Values Lens from your home country. How might differences in values and expected behavior change the way you act when you get home?

What’s the difference between a Challenge Lens and a Values Lens?

Cultural values give guidelines as to what is considered right or wrong, good or bad, within a culture. A Cultural Detective Value Lens investigates the five-to-seven core values that the authors have chosen to highlight for a particular culture. Not only are these values important within the culture, but they may also prove problematic to those from outside the culture.

Some of our topic-specific packages look at what’s involved in reaching a goal, such as working together as a team to complete a project, or successfully transitioning back into your organization after a stint overseas. In these cases, authors create a Challenge Lens that focuses on the various obstacles involved in accomplishing the task at hand, whether it is managing a global team or readjusting to returning home.

The Cultural Detective Method works equally as well with Challenge Lenses as with Values Lenses. How do my values influence my behavior in the situation, or how does my view of the challenge involved influence my behavior? Why? Looking at the underlying motivations of those involved can help to facilitate effective intercultural communication and understanding.

What’s the difference between culture-general and culture-specific knowledge and skill?

The term “culture general” can be used in a couple of ways. Sometimes it is used to refer to categories of behavior that can be found in any culture such as values, communication style, nonverbal behavior, and attitude toward time.

It also refers to an approach to intercultural communication learning in which these universal aspects of a culture are used as a framework for understanding and applying intercultural communication theory, or as a guide to the nuances of an individual culture.

Culture-general knowledge is vital to understanding that people from different cultural backgrounds may perceive the same thing, yet interpret or understand it quite differently.

“Culture specific” refers to information that is relevant to one particular culture, for example, the intricacies of proper gift-giving in Japan. Not very useful in the USA—but very useful if you are going to meet your new host family in Osaka.

At Culture Detective, we know that having both culture-general and culture-specific knowledge and skills are critical.

Intercultural competence requires culture-general knowledge to inform interactions with those who are culturally different. The skills of recognizing, respecting, and understanding a different perspective from the other’s point of view is the key to successful communication across cultures.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of culture-specific knowledge when you know in advance you may encounter culture differences. If a hesitant, slow, thoughtful answer will inspire more trust and confidence than a quick, enthusiastic response, it is advantageous to know how to adapt my communication style to best communicate my intention, for example.

The Cultural Method is based on the culture-general idea that values underlie behavior, and if we understand the influence of culture-specific values on culture-specific behaviors, we are more likely to better understand the other.

Simple, right?