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Book Corner: Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire our World
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Michele Gelfand is a featured presenter at this year’s FEIAA Executive Forum. She is a distinguished professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Gelfand uses field, experimental, computational, and neuroscience methods to understand the evolution of culture and its multilevel consequences for human groups. Her work has been cited over 20,000 times and has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines and online. Gelfand has been published in many peer-reviewed journals, including Psychological Science, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and Research in Organizational Behavior.

The 2020 executive leader must have the competency to address the diverse populations they serve and the people they lead. Successful future leaders must be able to support and motivate people to achieve common goals and accomplish desired outcomes. They are the executives who can capitalize on differences in culture to integrate new ideas and approaches in order to innovate and inspire excellence. 

To help achieve this competency, Gelfand will be presenting on her book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire our World (2018, Scribner). In her book, she takes us on a journey through human cultures, offering a new view of the world and ourselves. She shows that much of the diversity in the way we think and act derives from a key difference—how tightly or loosely we adhere to social norms. Why was the Daimler-Chrysler merger ill-fated from the start? Why are “Red” and “Blue” states really so divided? Why does one spouse prize running a “tight ship” while the other refuses to “sweat the small stuff?” Across all age groups, family variations, social classes, businesses, states, and nationalities, Gelfand identifies a primal pattern that can trigger cooperation or conflict. She provides us with clarity on various actions and attitudes that we experience and observe both at work and in community life. 

Gelfand is the founding co-editor of the Advances in Culture and Psychology annual series and the Frontiers of Culture and Psychology series (Oxford University Press), and co-editor of The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture (2004, Stanford University Press) and Values, Political Action, and Change in the Middle East and the Arab Spring (2017, Oxford University Press). She has held many executive positions in professional organizations, such as president of the International Association for Conflict Management and treasurer of the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

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