Transcultural Management and the BRIC States:
To celebrate the publication of Transculturalism and Business in the BRIC States, the handbook’s editors Professor Yvette Sánchez and Dr Claudia Franziska Brühwiler organized a conference at the University of St. Gallen. The two days offered an opportunity to discuss recent developments in the BRICS with contributors to the volume, area experts, and business people who shared their experiences in the respective countries.
Professor Brendan McSweeney kicked-off the conference with a look at Collective Cultural Mind Programming: Escaping from the Cage in which he built on his opening chapter to the handbook. He tackled different stereotypical ways “culture” is conceived, and dismantled the cage these build around our perception of cultural phenomena. The following roundtable demonstrated to what extent such prejudices can indeed hamper doing business in the BRICS. At the same time, the exchange showed the increasing importance of the BRICS area for both multinational corporations as well as SMEs in Switzerland: While Sérgio Carin, Head of Sales Cooperation and Business Development with Swiss Airlines, sees his company’s focus shifting to Brazil, Francesco Gherzi, Managing Partner of Gherzi Organisation, is mainly active in India, as his enterprise provides consulting services for the textile industry. Together with Assistant Professors in International Management Roger Moser and Tomas Casas i Klett, they discussed the challenges of operating in BRICS markets, particularly with regard to the changing political environments. Dr Christian Ersche closed the first conference day by zooming in on the relationship between the two BRICS members whose dynamics had already received a lot of attention by the roundtable participants: Brazil and China. His talk demonstrated to what extent both had profited from increased cooperation, yet he did not qualify it as a win-win constellation.
Day two and Professor Simon Evenett picked up the question economic gains for the BRICS member states in his opening address. He introduced the audience to the newest economic data of the BRICS area and discussed it in light of past economic crises. Although the outlook may not be reason for celebration, Prof. Evenett explained, certain policy adjustments may prevent BRICS from a downward spiral. The following roundtable, looked at these challenges from an Indian perspective. They took particular interest in the role of the country’s current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and his policies’ impact on economic growth. Dr Aglaya Snetkov added the last BRIC focal point, with an analysis of Russia’s foreign policy and economic outlook with regards to its partners. The final roundtable discussion further explored Russia’s perspective, Mariana Castro providing more insights into Brazil, and Dr Jivanta Schöttli adding India’s angle.
A conference on transculturalism would not be true to its name if it disregarded the actual cultural life of the states in question. The tunes of Russia, South Africa, and Brazil were brought to us by a vocal quartet consisting of the two Brazilian singers Ivo Haun and Victor de Souza Suares, Russian soprano Anna Miklashevich, and Hungarian bass Csongor Szántó. Their performance showed once again how art can unite distinct voices in harmony—a lesson that the BRICS may learn as well to actualize their grouping’s full potential.