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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.
Clotaire Rapaille takes a one-sided view of American culture in this book. The way the French do things is sophisticated and intelligent. Americans are seen as childish, puritanical, and fat. He tells us fat is an American culture code for checking out of the rat race. Money is the American code for proof.
I like the French. I do. I'm British and I hold no grudge about that invasion back in 1066. It's all water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned. But this book can only annoy an American audience (of which I am now one). The book doesn't give much practical advice on how to do business with Americans. His revelations are obvious to any American. The code for America is dream. America is optimistic. What a revelation! Europe is pessimistic. It seems too simplistic. Americans connect love and food. America is either prudish or vulgar when it comes to sex. The French apparently have a much more balanced attitude. There might be some truth to this but the book reeks of pomposity.
Here is the sort of thing he writes:
"Americans end a meal by saying, `I'm full.' The French end a meal by saying, `That was delicious.'"
You get the idea. We feed like animals, they dine. However, there is something to this. Restaurants generally give you more food than you need to satisfy your hunger.
But we do need to be sensitive to cultural mores. Culture is neither static nor homogeneous. And that is America's strength. America is dynamic and unclassifiable. Almost anything you can say about it can be true. And what is an American? There are quite a few French-Americans.
But the need for such a book is apparent. We do need to do our homework. The Chevy Nova (won't go) wasn't a good name in the Spanish-speaking market. The decision to name the car for that market was "off code."
I'm not an emotional person but my copy satisfyingly went in the trash.
the author Clotaire Rapaille is a french-born anthropologist who put his training to doing good - as a marketing consultant for major companies around the world
to derive a particular culture's "code"- he questions a cross section of that population - trying to find their motivations - and reducing those to a word or phrase that becomes the theme of the marketing campaign - (i wish there were more detail of this phase of the study but there are only hints)
i was skeptical when i started - but time and again - when he presented a "code" for a group of people - such as "Americans" or "French" - it seemed to fit - even tho i know that groups are composed of individuals with vast differences - yet as a "cultural" group their motives seem to coalesce - at least enuf for businesses who want to market to the majority
this is a book i expect to revisit after i've had time to ponder it's startling ideas - it's fascinating for the insights it provides on the groups or nationalities it reveals to us - it's not dense so it's a quick & easy read - with the author amusingly speaking as if he were American - and occasionally reminding us that he came from France - i wonder if that can be considered his "code"