Coffee culture v social media: a quick theory on why business behaviour varies across Europe
October 12, 2011 11:19 AM
This piece first appeared as the European Perspective column in the print version of B2B Marketing Magazine October 2011.
Ever wondered why the British and the French use social media differently? It's all a question of context, apparently...
Anthropologists will tell you that Europe can be broadly divided into high- and low-context cultures. France and Italy, for example, are high context cultures, where routine communications are often based on experiences and expectations understood by all members of that culture.
This reduces the need for detail, and increases the tendency for verbal story-telling over factual description. Low-context cultures, such as the UK, Germany and the US make fewer such assumptions, preferring fuller communications and more detailed descriptions.
These two dimensions have a very direct influence on how people share and communicate their knowledge. High-context cultures may use stories and metaphors in explaining a learning situation whereas low context cultures may uses tables and figures for underlining arguments. Tables and figures are much more easy to share via online media, whereas stories and metaphors are more suited to face-to-face conversation.
Which may explain why business meetings over a long lunch might happen more in Paris than Berlin. And this may in turn contribute to the slower adoption of social media sharing in such cultures. Whilst LinkedIn is great for sharing infographics, it doesn't serve very good coffee...
Image courtesy of sh0dan, via Flickr and Creative Commons