浅谈语言文化差异的风险 Risk is a risky word. Already prone to misinterpretation among people who share a language and a culture, the difficulties multiply dangerously when it moves across borders. “风险”这个词本身就蕴含着风险。即使是语言和文化背景
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  Risk is a risky word. Already prone to misinterpretation among people who share a language and a culture, the difficulties multiply dangerously when it moves across borders.



  What a Wall Street trader might define as moderately risky may seem downright insane to a Japanese retail broker; what an oil pipeline engineer in Brazil might characterise as gung-ho may appear overcautious to his revenue-chasing chief executive in London.


  "The perception of risk and uncertainty is very different across cultures," says Javier Gimeno, a professor of international risk and strategic management at Insead. "In some cultures, there is a very high level of uncertainty avoidance. People avoid discussing things where there is uncertainty, or imitate their competitors just to feel the safety of doing the same thing." In some Mediterranean and Arabic cultures, he has observed a "strong sense of fatalism or destiny. You don't want to talk about possible scenarios and possible risks. No one wants to be the person bringing up the risk, which makes the communication of risks difficult."

  欧洲工商管理学院(Insead)国际风险与战略管理教授哈维尔?吉梅诺(Javier Gimeno)表示:“不同文化对于风险和不确定性的认识存在很大差异。一些文化对不确定性的规避程度极高。人们不愿谈论不确定的事情,或者常常去模仿竞争对手,而这只是为了求得一种从众的安全感。”他发现,地中海和阿拉伯地区的一些文化,“具有很强的宿命色彩。人们不愿谈论可能情形或可能风险,不愿把风险当作话题。这使得外人很难与他们沟通风险问题”。

  Since the explosion of BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago, students of risk have been poring over the causes. An important factor appears to have been a failure in communication between BP's London headquarters and its US operations over the balance between internal control and operational aggression.


  Richard Anderson, head of the Institute of Risk Management, a professional training body in London, says that years before the accident, Lord Browne, then chief executive of BP, told his internal auditors that the philosophy for internal control was "we don't like surprises". In the UK, says Mr Anderson, managers took this to mean they should alert their superiors to any looming problems, whereas in the US, some misconstrued Lord Browne's instructions to mean nasty surprises were to be hidden."Language always comes with a set of cultural baggage," says Mr Anderson, who has studied the affair. "That was definitely evident in that case."

  位于伦敦的职业培训机构“风险管理研究所”(Institute of Risk Management)的所长理查德?安德森(Richard Anderson)指出,在这起事故发生的若干年前,时任BP首席执行官的布朗勋爵(Lord Browne)曾对内部审计人员表示,BP的内控理念就是“我们不喜欢意外”。安德森说,在英国,管理者们把这句话理解为应当就任何快要出现的问题向上级发出预警;而在美国,布朗勋爵的这句话被错误理解为要“报喜不报忧”。对此事有过研究的安德森指出:“语言离不开其特定的文化背景,这一点在整件事中非常明显。”

  Since the financial crisis, banks have been criticised for relying too much on value-at-risk models–which calculate the risk of a bank's position based on historic probability of adverse events over time–that failed to account for the severity of what was to occur in 2008. But, says Prof Gimeno, VAR remains a useful tool provided it is only one of several used by organisations. The challenge is that so much risk can escape the scrutiny of even the most sophisticated risk management tools.


  Oil companies, for example, measure risk in all kinds of ways, from political risk and operational risk to the macroeconomic factors that might lead to fluctuating oil prices. But these measurements are next to useless without open communication and shared assumptions about language.


  "An important dimension in risk management is the extent to which there is vertical communication within a company," says Prof Gimeno. "Compare a Dutch company – where an employee can talk easily to his superior – to a Japanese or Korean company, where there is a big separation between the ranks. This can lead to communication not being pushed upward. This isn't just company cultures, it's national culture." The potential nightmare arises when a company knows less than the individuals within it because of lack of communication between the ranks.


  The growing field of enterprise risk management seeks to crack this problem by guiding organisations on improving structures and governance around risk. "It is about settling on a way to identify, assess and respond to risk in [a] way that is culturally consistent across the organisation," says Mr Anderson. "Organisations are starting to define their risk so that language does not break down across boundaries."


  The relatively new breed of risk professionals also aims toprovide the kind of hard intelligence that will pierce what Mr Anderson calls the "perfect place arrogance" that can beset multinationals. Companies with strong national identities risk thinking that what they do at home will work equally well abroad. "They think "just because we've been successful on Wall Street, we can do the same thing in London, Tokyo and Frankfurt".Such thinking can be challenged with trenchant assessments of the risks present in each new market.

  相对新兴的风险管理专业人士,还试图通过提供那类“硬情报”,来破除安德森所谓的.“完美地自负”(perfect place arrogance),这种自负可能给跨国企业带来困扰。具有鲜明地域特色的公司可能会认为,自己在本国的业务模式在海外市场也同样有效。“他们认为,‘既然在华尔街能够取得成功,我们在伦敦、东京和法兰克福同样也能成功’。”通过对各个新市场中存在的风险做出明晰的评估,我们就可对这种自负的想法提出质疑。

  The challenge ofERM is to find the right balance between operating as yet another audit system and building risk-orientated thinking into day-to-day management.


  John Ludlow, vice-president for global risk management at InterContinental Hotels Group, runs a $100m budget to manage risk across IHG's 4,600 hotels in 100 countries. What ties IHG employees' everyday actions to the company's strategic view of risk is a determination to "champion and protect our brands". This sense of the brand being the most important asset is what aligns the many activities that fall under the category of "risk".

  约翰?勒德洛(John Ludlow)是洲际酒店集团(InterContinental Hotels Group)全球风险管理副总裁,他负责以1亿美元的年预算管理集团在全球100个国家的4600家酒店的业务风险。勒德洛表示,将员工日常行为与集团风控战略观联结起来的因素,是一种“捍卫和维护公司品牌”的决心。这种将品牌看做最重要资产的意识,是集团管理者在处理各种风险事件时的共同出发点。

  Mr Ludlow says understanding context–more so than language–is the first step in any global risk management plan. In any country in the world, people consider risk in terms of the law, logic and relationships, but in different orders of importance: "In China, it's relationships first and the law third. In the US, it's law first, then logic, then relationships."


  At IHG, risks range from picking local developers and operators to ensuring the safety of guests and staff during any natural disaster or attack.


  Mr Ludlow's team includes recruits from the military and intelligence services for their expertise at gathering information, as well as operational experts capable of implementing a 2,000-page volume of policies and standards. The latter range from knife safety in kitchens to evacuation plans in the event of extreme political unrest. "We have e-learning and safety training in different languages for people at different levels of the organisation," he says. "Each day, there are checklists, 10-minute online campaigns and poster campaigns".


  The greatest pitfalls in managing risk across borders, he says, emerge from assuming too much. When dealing with fellow English speakers, it is easy to imagine that a shared language means shared assumptions that the English, Americans and Australians think the same thing because they are using the same words.


  With less familiar cultures, all kinds of unpredicted mistakes can occur."In your own culture, you can assume so much. But when you're dealing with different cultures, you can do your best but you have to go further to make sure that what you both think you've done is the same thing."













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