Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Paul Ventura


Most American trainers and teachers who have worked overseas have encountered the problem of finding instructional material that is culturally appropriate for international trainees. There is plenty of material available; you can find popular American titles in every international hotel or airport. Yet because these books are written for American audiences, the values, vocabulary, and jokes can be inappropriate and offensive to other cultures.

In January of 1998, I sat with fellow trainers in a training room in Saudi Arabia, waiting to review the latest version of “Situational Leadership”. This is perhaps the most popular leadership course in the world and we looked forward to the revised videos—our version is 11 years old. Suddenly, our worst fears were realized: the new videos featured a women’s ballet practice—sweaty young women in revealing, skin-tight clothing. This image is fine for California, but sweaty cleavages and provocative poses are considered immoral and even illegal in Saudi Arabia. These films would not even pass through customs. Why, I wondered, had the video designers shown so little marketing savvy? In my opinion, they had effectively eliminated their product from about 50% of the international market. How can we improve this miscommunication?

Research question

“Given a creativity workshop for Saudi managers, how does one design the content and delivery of the course to accommodate the cultural needs of Saudis in a large corporation in Saudi Arabia?” Stated simply: How do you modify American, off-the-shelf, creativity training for Saudi managers?


Communication | International and Intercultural Communication

Related Files SITPRE~1.PPT (201 kB)