Tribal ethos favours self-transcendence, within the Tribe

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Alfredo Behrens


Where there is little trust, can there be self-transcendence?  Can one strive for openness as well as closeness between tribes? Preference to trust own clan members is much higher among Mediterranean peoples than among Germanic ones. In both Germanic and Mediterranean clusters, trusting behaviours follow culturally determined kinship patterns that are slow to change, so much so that the different Mediterranean and Germanic trust patterns still show between Latin America and the USA. Germanic managerial techniques rest on Germanic trusting behaviours that are relatively lacking in the Mediterranean cluster, among whom Germanic managerial techniques lose efficacy and self-transcendence might be a riskier path to take. Clan-friendly management among Mediterranean peoples, including rewards more readily focused on needs, teamwork and citizenship behaviour, require less controls, bringing about faster alignment and more agile organizations. These reflections are relevant to manage North African migrants into Europe, as they are to manage Latin Americans into the USA.

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Author Biography

Alfredo Behrens, FIA Business School

Alfredo Behrens, born in 1951, economist; holds a Ph.D. by University of Cambridge and is currently a Professor of Cross-cultural Leadership at FIA Business School, São Paulo. Alfredo Behrens has lectured at or consulted for Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School; University of California at Berkeley; and for business schools such as London Business School, Katz, Thunderbird, ESCP Europe and Insper, São Paulo. He is most active on issues such as: leadership; cross-cultural management, besides strategic planning focused on the internationalization of companies. He has worked in or with the private and public sector in the Americas, East and Western Europe, Asia and Southern Africa. His latest work is available as an e-book “Shooting Heroes and Rewarding Cowards” and is published in Portuguese by Bei in São Paulo (2011). This book was called “fascinating and innovative” by Suzy Welch, the former Editor-In-Chief of Harvard Business Review. Professor Behrens’  book Culture and Management in the Americas, was published by Stanford University Press in English in 2009 and is also available in Portuguese by Editora Saraiva. The book was selected by Época Negócios as the best Brazilian business book of the year. Alfredo Behrens was also awarded (2012) a prize by the Brazilian Meteorological Society (Prêmio da Sociedade Brasileira de Meteorologia),  signaling that Professor Behrens’ work begins to transcend the boundaries of business studies. He also received awards from the McNamara Fellowship by the World Bank, the Hewlett fellowship by Princeton University, The Boa Vista Bank award, and the Jean Monet Fellowship by the European University, Fiesole, Italy.