Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Blacharski, Dan. The Savvy Business Traveler's Guide to the Customs and Practices in Other Countries

Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc. 2008. 288p. photogs. index. ISBN 978-1-60138-013-5. $24.95.

Here world traveler, author of six books, and professional freelance writer, Blacharski (http://www.blacharski.net) attempts to provide mostly business travelers from the United States but also Americans traveling abroad for pleasure with a comprehensive, concise guide to the business customs and practices in over 40 different countries worldwide. Dividing his book into seven sections, in chapters one through four, Blacharski first offers some sound advice to American business travelers. He stresses that in foreign countries business is never just business but may be personal and involve an understanding that business is about more than the bottom line. It may involve eating and drinking the oftentimes difficult- to- stomach foods and beverages of host countries. Blacharski advocates adopting an open attitude and willingness to try to assimilate with foreign cultures. Courteous business travelers also will attempt to learn a few words of the languages in which their foreign business counterparts converse as well as respect local customs and practices regarding bribes, gifts, religion, etiquette, and more. The author extrapolates on how a little common sense goes a long way toward being courteous and successful. He emphasizes that in the global economy, the American “way” is being displaced by many ways about which knowledge and insight are needed. The remaining sections of Blacharski’s guide cover the business customs and practices in various geographic areas of the world-- Asia and the South Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the Americas, and Africa and the Middle East—while separate chapters examine the business dos and don’ts in specific countries or in the case of South Africa, regions. Each chapter includes sections on the economy, greetings, foods, religions, etiquette, business practices, and common customs. Traveler’s Tips interspersed throughout the text as sidebars present the first-hand experiences and advice of Blacharski and others. Not exhaustive in scope or depth and seemingly based upon the author’s first-hand experiences, Blacharski unfortunately omits many countries to which U.S. travelers may embark. Some of the more important countries not covered include Cambodia, Myanmar, Singapore, Nepal, Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Cuba, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, and more. A bibliography of print and Internet resources should be added as well as appendices and a glossary defining unfamiliar cultural and religious terms. Finally, while the pictures accompanying this publication are attractive, they should be in color and appropriately placed at the beginning of chapters rather than at their ends. A useful but not definitive, authoritative guide to world business etiquette, travel, intercultural communications, and corporate cultures, this book will serve as a starting point for many travelers. Recommended for general business audiences and many public library collections-C. A. Lajos