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The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do Paperback – July 17, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
French-born marketing consultant and psychoanalyst Rapaille takes a truism—different cultures are, well, different—and expands it by explaining how a nation's history and cultural myths are psychological templates to which its citizens respond unconsciously. Fair enough, but after that, it's all downhill. Rapaille intends his theory of culture codes to help us understand "why people do what they do," but the "fundamental archetypes" he offers are just trumped-up stereotypes. He often supports jarring pronouncements ("The Culture Code for perfection in America is DEATH") with preposterous generalizations and overstatements, e.g., Japanese men "seem utterly incapable of courtship or wooing a woman." Writing with the naïveté of someone who has learned about the world only through Hollywood films, he seems unaware that every person living within a nation's borders doesn't necessarily share the same cultural biases and references. Rapaille's successful consulting career is evidence that he's more convincing in the boardroom than he is on the page. Amid the overheated prose and dubious factoids, it's easy to overlook the book's scattered marketing proposals and employee-management tips. (June 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“This book is just plain astonishing! Filled with profound insights and ideas that have enormous consequences for today’s organizations. If you want to understand customers, Constituencies, and crowds, this book is required reading.”
--Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California and author of On Becoming a Leader
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Top Customer Reviews
I have used the information in this book in political action groups I'm involved in, and I've used it for my own self-development projects.
Rapaille displays a particular knack at getting to the core values of various cultures (American, French, German, English, etc.) on which he then develops marketing advice for various national and international companies. While his observations and recommendations are .market oriented, he is also skilled at deciphering the (often unconscious) values and motivations of people in each culture, while also showing how they contrast with one another.
It describes fundamental clues to "align" our products and services according to this perspective.
Highly recommended for people interested in learning fundamentals of marketing from a more antrolopological point of view.
Kristian said it would change my perspective on business and boy was he totally on code.
For me, the book was more than understanding how or why we buy, it was a look into different cultures and understanding the importance of culture and messaging.
I really loved the authors way of explaining each culture and how it affects us. It was an easy and entertaining read. I never got bored nor did I want to skip through pages as I do with most books.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to view the world from a different axis.
His methodology is a combination of three-hour focus groups, elements of psychoanalysis, and elements of general cultural anthropology, and it's backed by good academic credentials and the intuition and methodological refinement which come from many years of applying this approach to projects for large organizations.
Interestingly, some reviewers describe Rapaille's findings as "obvious" whereas others strongly question his findings. I think the truth is somewhere in between. Based on my personal experience, the vast majority of his findings are largely on target, even though some are unexpected and maybe initially counterintitive, but of course that only adds to their value. It's also true that a few of his findings are overgeneralized or oversimplified or even questionable, but that tends to come with the territory, since social science is inherently somewhat fuzzy, so we can't expect the same rigor, precision, and replicability as physical science. In this regard, I do think that Rapaille should have done a better job of qualifying his findings and delineating their limitations, especially given the general audience for the book; that's my most significant complaint about the book, hence my 4-star rating.
To summarize his general view of American culture, Rapaille describes us as being dreamers who are optimistic by nature, and who likewise have an outsized appetite for everything (achievement, status, money, houses, cars, food, love, physical attractiveness, health and longevity, etc.). We're not obsessive perfectionists, but we demand that things generally work and get the job done. We correspondingly tolerate and even expect mistakes, but we also expect people to fix and learn from their mistakes, and to bounce back from failures, preferably smarter and stronger than before; we especially like it when people overcome great adversity not of their own making. We likewise expect products and services and everything else to gradually keep getting better, which is why we embrace the new and are quick to discard the old, are busybodies, are willing to take risks, are impatient, and aren't especially intellectual or reflective. We expect our President, like Moses, to help lead us on this journey of progress, hopefully steering us to an almost utopian promised land discernable on the horizon. And finally, we have a lot of conviction about our cultural identity, which is why we have a sense of unity which transcends our diversity, class structure, individualism, and rebelliousness, and why we see ourselves as an appropriate model for the rest of the world.
Beyond these widely recognized generalities, Rapaille presents a variety of more specific cultural traits, often linked with consumer products, and that's where his conclusions are more surprising and controversial. These more specific conclusions are too diverse to summarize here, plus you need to read the book to see how he derives and justifies them, so that you can judge for yourself.
Overall, I think this is an interesting and enjoyable book which provides meaningful insight into various cultures, especially American culture, so I recommend it to anyone with an interest along those lines. As far as R&D and marketing, the book provides only a general framework, rather than being a "how to" instructional manual, so don't expect too much if that's your primary interest.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
the author Clotaire Rapaille is a french-born anthropologist who put...Read more