Global Communication: Do similarities or differences matter more?


Crabtree (2001), in his provocative article on global leadership, writes that “thinking globally used to require conscious attention to the differences that exist between different markets. Now it requires constant attention to the increasing similarities and the opportunities and threats created by them” (p.58). In the ten years since Crabtree penned those words, we have globalized our society even more. Global communication now requires a focus on the increasing similarities between cultures, because the differences between us are much less important than the similarities now.

Marshall McLuhan, in correspondence with Edward Hall wrote that “we live in a single constricted space resonant with tribal drums” (as cited in Rogers, 2000, p.12). McLuhan wrote that letter in 1962 and in the forty years since, the “tribal drums” themselves are becoming more homogenous in how they sound. We communicate through similar mediums (Internet, Facebook, music, blogs etc.) worldwide. If McLuhan’s famous idiom that “the medium is the message” is correct, then our converging mediums means the communication itself will soon become the same worldwide. 500 Million of us use Facebook, 50% of whom access it every day (see Facebook Statistics for up-to-date statistics). Maybe the cultural communication differences matter less than we think they do?

Crabtree, H.R. (2001). Take me to your leader. In W.H. Mobley & M.W. McCall (Eds). Advances in global leadership, Vol. 2 (pp. 49-74). Binkley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Rogers, E.M. (2000). The extensions of men: The correspondence between Marshall McLuhan and Edward Hall. Mass Communication & Society, 3(1), 117-135.

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About Tim Vanderpyl
I am a student of leadership and human resources, and I'm blogging to share some of my thoughts and ideas with readers. I'm a CHRP (Certified Human Resource Professional) at a large healthcare organization, a graduate of Regent University's Doctor of Strategic Leadership program, and lover of the life that God has gifted me with.

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