f_0016628_14370 - Diplomatic Processes and Cultural...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Diplomatic Processes and Cultural Variations: The Relevance of Culture in Diplomacy by Wilfried Bolewski Let us not be blind to our differences—but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. John F. Kennedy, American University, June 10, 1963. T he relationship between diplomacy and culture has been somewhat neglected in recent academic and practical studies, 1 even though competence and understanding during intercultural exchanges unites societies and facilitates further intercultural interactions. Current public discussions concentrate exclusively on the existence of cultural commonalities and universal values all cultures share. 2 However, determining likenesses among cultures should be secondary to the awareness of cultural differences as the logical starting point for the evaluation of intercultural commonalities. Intercultural sensitivity within groups paves the way for the acceptance and tolerance of other cultures and allows members to be open to values which are universal among all groups, such as law and justice, which globalized society should then build upon together. Facing the challenges of an increasingly complex world, the question of interdependency between diplomatic processes and cultural variations becomes relevant: is there a shared professional culture in diplomacy apart from national ones, and if so, does it influence diplomacy? To what extent can research into national cultures help diplomacy and governments to understand international interactions? D EFINITION OF CULTURE 3 General definition Before analyzing the interdependency between culture and diplomacy, it is necessary to state what the word culture implies. According to Hofstede, culture is Ambassador Wilfried Bolewski is the German Foreign Office’s Special Representative for Universities and Foundations at the Foreign Service Academy, and teaches Diplomacy at the Free University Berlin and at Sciences Po Paris. He is a Senior Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin. For this article he has been assisted by Melanie Svenja Haubrich and Sebastian Kruse during their internship at the German Foreign Office. 145
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BOLEWSKI The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations defined as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one category of people (i.e. social group) from another.” 4 In contrast to personality, culture is not individual but collective. Furthermore, mental programming suggests that information has been internalized by an individual, leaving him unable to judge outside of his program’s purview. Hofstede applies the same definition of culture to professional cultures, such as the diplomatic one. 5
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f_0016628_14370 - Diplomatic Processes and Cultural...

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