Managing across cultures is not a new phenomenon, but it is more important now than ever before. For centuries, travellers, traders, explorers, conquerors, colonizers, knowledge seekers (students and scholars), job seekers and asylum seekers, and employees and/or managers of international organizations have travelled across borders and have had to come to terms with the demands of living in different societies and experiencing new cultures. They had to manage themselves and manage others, when necessary, in tougher and more hostile living environments than those of today. Many empires were built in part on their efficient management of resources across cultures. One of the main reasons for their demise was conflict resulting from misunderstanding or not respecting cross-cultural differences. However, until the later part of the second half of the twentieth century there were few studies, textbooks or courses on the subject of managing across cultures, and it was given very little attention by economists, political analysts and international business scholars. It was not until the 1980s that cross-cultural management became a common subject of academic research and study – and then most of the literature was on the management of expatriates and the problems of staffing US multinational companies in foreign countries
Now, however, managing across cultures is a well-established subject that is taught in universities and practised by managers. It has become one of the main challenges in understanding contemporary management practices and organization theories. The reason why such challenges are important is that management in general and human resource management in particular have become more complex and more problematic than in any time before. A number of textbooks have documented with the use of examples the reasons for the need to learn how to manage across cultures by practitioners and decision makers involved in cross-cultural management.