Ambiculturalism: Differences in Harmony

Kevin Tsi, a native of Taiwan, joined a U.S. based company after earning his MBA and proving himself in Silicon Valley. A young professional in demand, he was recruited to lead a team in the tech company’s most important project.

Welcoming him at a project-wide meeting, the senior project manager listed his many achievements as part of his introduction. But Tsi was coming from a culture in which one was expected to humbly deflect praise or share it with others, including family and colleagues. Expected to respond, Tsi was caught between an impulse to show gratitude to his mentors and parents for their contributions to his success and a realization that Westerners would think that disingenuous, expecting a simple “thank you.”

Using his experiences from both the East and the West, Tsi found a reply that suited both perspectives: “That is very kind of you.” This balanced response is an example of an “ambicultural” mindset, in which differences that may seem like opposites can be integrated. This mindset transcends differences through understanding of and respect for other cultures, and finding a combination of both.

Learn more about ambiculturalism and its importance in today’s global environment in Professor Ming-Jer Chen and Senior Researcher Gerry Yemen’s article “Navigating Between Two Value Systems With ‘Ambiculturalism’” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.

The article is based on the case Ambiculture: Seeking the Multicultural Middle (Darden Business Publishing), by Darden Professor Ming-Jer Chen and Senior Researcher Gerry Yemen.

About the Faculty

Ming-Jer Chen

Chen is a leading authority in strategic management, a field that helps companies align corporate policies and resources with strategic priorities. He is recognized for his pioneering work in competitive dynamics — how firms compete and collaborate worldwide — and ambicultural management — how to integrate the best aspects of... Learn More