New Releases

Cultural DNA

March 23, 2015


Written by the head of global business psychology consultancy, YSC, Cultural DNA explores 8 key cultures to improve our overall cultural intelligence.

Our global world is pushing cultures together as never before. Getting under the skin of other cultures is key to success for both business and political leaders. In this thought provoking book, Cultural DNA, Gurnek Bains, a leading global thinker, presents ground breaking original research and the latest evidence from neuroscience, behavioral genetics, psychology and history to enable people to understand, empathise with and engage people from other cultures in our increasingly connected world.

Bains argues that much previous work in this area has just scratched the surface and he examines the deepest instincts of eight key global cultures to help readers understand the psychological themes at play in regions such as the U.S., Latin America, Europe, China, India, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia. Evidence from a range of interdisciplinary sources is backed up by insights from an extensive database of 30,000 leaders. The book looks at how cultures are changing and influencing both global politics and business by posing and answering questions such as:

  • Why are Americans so positive?
  • Why is China a world leader in manufacturing and India in IT?
  • Why do overseas firms struggle in the U.S. market place?
  • What are the emotional forces driving current events in the Middle East?
  • What are the psychological roots of the Eurozone crisis and how this is likely to play out?
Bains is co-founder and chairman of YSC, one of the world's leading corporate psychology consultancies. YSC has 20 offices around the world and works with 40% of FTSE100 companies, leading U.S. multinationals, as well as a host of companies in other regions.

In his latest book, Bains meticulously explores the deep attributes that each culture has developed over thousands of years to address unique environmental challenges. He argues that, "This essential DNA drumbeat from the past reverberates through each society and as globalization marches on, we ignore it at our peril." Furthermore, he suggests that we can learn important lessons from the world's distinct societies and that cultural instincts may be literally more embedded in people's DNA than we think. For example, genes related to adventurousness or rebelliousness are evident in over 50% of Latin Americans and in 30% of people from the U.S. but are at rates close to zero in the Far East. Huge variations are also seen in a number of other "psychological genes".

For far too long cultural intelligence has been underestimated, but it is now harder to ignore its economic value or importance for creating a harmonious international order. Through this book, business and political leaders will understand how each region's cultural DNA influences:

  • Its economic and political institutions.
  • People's underlying consumer psychology.
  • The soft skills needed to lead in that environment.
  • The challenges for leaders from different regions as they move onto the global stage.
  • How to best release people's potential.
  • The issues that need to be managed to anticipate and solve problems as each culture engages a globalized world.

Every now and again a new book comes along that is a must read; Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point or Seth Godin's Tribes. Cultural DNA by Gurnek Bains, by virtue of its depth, originality and ambition, is that very book for all global leaders.


Gurnek Bains has worked with organizations across a wide range of industries for 25 years and remains a trusted advisor to some of the most senior leaders in international business. He is the chief author of Meaning Inc: The blueprint for business success in the 21st century (Profile Books 2007), which draws on his extensive experience working with leaders and brings to life the ways in which sustainable success is created through a meaningful sense of purpose and by creating the right environment in which individuals can flourish. Gurnek is regularly asked to speak at conferences and leadership summits and has appeared in HR Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential People. He has a doctorate in psychology from Oxford University. For more information about YSC visit the website.

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