Tag Archives: Switzerland

Developing Cultural Empathy: Perspective Taking


This article reflects on example biases that could impact one’s intercultural behavior and decision making and how the role of the media is shaping ideas about cultures. Finally, specifics of the European culture are analyzed as relevant for global talent management issues.

Culture is an unconsciously learned way of thinking and living of a particular group of people that reinforces that worldview through its in-group similarity [1]. To change ‘cultural DNA’ requires time, although the term refers to a psychological instinct built through the adaption of societal norms rather than through a genetic constitution. Different environmental challenges brought up intellectual orientations, which cannot be judged; they are just different. While empathy is considered to allow understanding between people, the bridges built between some may be the boundaries for others. This risks to cement in- and out-group hierarchies [2]. Besides empathy, enhanced critical thinking abilities are necessary to unveil moral subjectivity and contribute to increased cross-cultural understanding [3].

Humans everywhere have the same desires, fears, and motivations [4]. Cultural differences shouldn’t be judged but seen rather relative [5] and therefore not to be blamed [1]. Judgments can unavoidably happen from unconscious biases triggering stereotypical exaggeration, or simplification out of context that result in prejudices. These are not immutable though in the sense that between bias and action critical thinking was not possible [6]. People have a psychological tendency to accredit more humanness to oneself than to others [7] The level of empathy is predictive of the strength of this in-/out-group bias [8]. Research found that more collectivist cultures show stronger empathy for in-group members [9]. If in an individualist culture, an individualistic mindset is activated though, all but the self may be considered as out-group members [10]. Contact with other cultures is the best means to anticipate such bias [11] and relationships with outgroups potentially reduces prejudice [12].

Be it for peace between countries or the functioning of multi-national organizations, intergroup empathy has become an increasingly important global challenge [4]. How balanced the media selects and presents its news is playing a vital role in shaping the cross-cultural understanding of individual, group, and societal identities. Media literacy, therefore, is a key strategy to develop cultural perspective-taking [13].

Despite Europe’s diverse composition of nations, the continent’s genetic base is much less variable than that of many other global regions. Europe is (to stay with the example) characterized by high in-group equality, which, on the other hand, may also degenerate into out-group domination. European leaders tend to be inclusive [4]. Indeed, German SME’s, for example, include all or most of the employees in Talent Management practices, which is in contrast to typical multinational enterprises [14]. Egalitarian attitudes within Europe cause leaders to backup leadership processes with bureaucratic rules that come with a loss in speed compared to other cultures. The European focus on individual rights, creativity and innovation, professional relationships, and the use of evidence-based data (in comparison to more intuitive thinking) might be an asset for fostering objectivity in global talent management practices [4]. This is important for talent-based economies as found in Western Europe [15] to remain competitive in the sourcing of global talent [16].


[1] Williams, T. R. (2013). Examine Your LENS: A Tool for Interpreting Cultural Differences. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal Of Study Abroad, 22148-165.

[2] Hollan, D. (2012). Author reply: The definition and morality of empathy. Emotion Review, 4(1), 83. doi:10.1177/1754073911421396

[3] Murray, J. W. (2015). Critical Thinking Activities and the Enhancement of Ethical Awareness: An Application of a “Rhetoric of Disruption” to the Undergraduate General Education Classroom. Open Review Of Educational Research, 2(1), 240-258.

[4] Bains, G. (2015). Cultural DNA: The psychology of globalization. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

[5] Gareis, E. (2005). Relativism versus Universalism: Developing a Personal Philosophy. Communication Teacher, 19(2), 39-43.

[6] Harris, W. T. (2010). Ending racism starts with accepting bias: bias is inevitable, racism is not. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ blog/colorstruck/201005/ending-racism-starts-accepting-bias

[7] Park, J., Haslam, N., Kashima, Y., & Norasakkunkit, V. (2016). Empathy, culture and self-humanising: Empathising reduces the attribution of greater humanness to the self more in Japan than Australia. International Journal Of Psychology, 51(4), 301-306.

[8] Krumhuber, E. G., Swiderska, A., Tsankova, E., Kamble, S. V., & Kappas, A. (2015). Real or Artificial? Intergroup Biases in Mind Perception in a Cross-Cultural Perspective. Plos One, 10(9), e0137840. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0137840

[9] Chenbo, W., Bing, W., Yi, L., Xinhuai, W., & Shihui, H. (2015). Challenging emotional prejudice by changing self-concept: priming independent self-construal reduces racial in-group bias in neural responses to other. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 10(9), 1195-1201. doi:10.1093/scan/nsv005

[10] Jiang, C., Hou, Y., Han, S., & Varnum, M. W. (2014). Distinct effects of self-construal priming on empathic neural responses in Chinese and Westerners. Social Neuroscience, 9(2), 130-138.

[11] Dopierała, A., Jankowiak-Siuda, K., & Boski, P. (2017). Empathy gap – what do we know about empathizing with others′ pain?. Polish Psychological Bulletin, Vol 48, Iss 1, Pp 111-117 (2017), (1), 111. doi:10.1515/ppb-2017-0014

[12] Inzlicht, M., Gutsell, J. N., & Legault, L. (2012). Mimicry reduces racial prejudice. Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(1), 361-365. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.06.007

[13] Cole-Adams, J. (2013). Developing Intercultural Understanding with Difference Differently. Ethos, 21(1), 25-28.

[14] Festing, M., Schaefer, L., & Scullion, H. (2013). Talent management in medium-sized German companies: an explorative study and agenda for future research. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 24(9), 1872-1893.

[15] Oshri, I., & Ravishankar, M. (2014). On the attractiveness of the UK for outsourcing services. Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, (1), 18. doi:10.1108/SO-11-2013-0022

[16] Anil, K. (2006). STRATEGIES FOR GLOBAL R&D. Research Technology Management, (2), 48.

[Net Neutrality] (Cyber) Territory Development: Owned by Landlords or by the People?


The king has, in the struggle of defending his crown, given the virtual land to the landlords. Now the peasants pay the tolls to the privileged class who rules the online territory for the maximization of its own financial profits and influence. How will the insurgency look like? Time for (re-) new(-ed) alliances for effective and hopefully non-violent rebellion.

Part of the solution:

Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ)

Platform Cooperativism Japan (PCJ) connects key stakeholders of the emerging platform economy ecosystem to create synergies in the pursuit of increased shared value, ownership, and governance. The PCJ Consortium supports the cooperative digital economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.

Inspiration from the History of Switzerland:

The Old Swiss Confederacy began as a late medieval alliance between the communities of the valleys in the Central Alps, at the time part of the Holy Roman Empire, to facilitate the management of common interests such as free trade and to ensure the peace along the important trade routes through the mountains. With the rise of the Habsburg dynasty, the kings and dukes of Habsburg sought to extend their influence over this region and to bring it under their rule. The foreign landlords collected tolls from bridges. Anti-Habsburg insurgences sprung up, but were quashed quickly. This time of turmoil prompted the Waldstätten to cooperate more closely, trying to preserve or regain their Reichsfreiheit. On August 1, 1291, an Everlasting League was made between the Forest Communities for mutual defense against a common enemy. The three founding cantons of the Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, as the confederacy was called, managed to defeat Habsburg armies on several occasion, and ensured a de facto independence from the empire. The Freibrief, or freedom charter, to “the people of the valleys,” recognized and formalized in law the independence from the Habsburg that they had gradually won in fact.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_of_the_Old_Swiss_Confederacy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_neutrality

Current ‘Happy Colorful Growth’ painting

1. Thought on art/painting

Art can express the inexplicable. That’s  a remarkable potential we have because we still can’t explain the most important things, such as why there are ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ and what to do about it. Limitations in expression are limiting the thinking (yes, also this way round). We feel that there is something, somewhere in us, that holds more answers than we can explain with words. Art/painting is a key to the next human breakthrough in consciousness.

2. Most recent paintings


#76 Lake bed (Life water painting series,

Mathias Sager, oil on wood panel, F10 530 x 455)

Continue reading Current ‘Happy Colorful Growth’ painting

Letter home: From a world citizen who doesn’t feel any worse

#008 Culture Lake II (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 41.1×31.8×0.4 cm (16.2″x12.5″x0.16″))

Thank you very much for your rich and engaging letter. I would also like to stress that I love you, unconditionally.

Please take care and follow your heart, no matter what others are saying. Even if criticism between people can lead to counter criticism, I believe that “the world” in the actual/wider sense is waiting for each of us equally. I want no one to think she/he is less valuable than anyone else because there is absolutely no reason for that.

Continue reading Letter home: From a world citizen who doesn’t feel any worse

Language nomad

#012 Playful Kanji (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 46x53x0.4 cm (18.1″20.8″x0.16″))

In Deutscher Muttersprache
Ond uf Schwiizerdütsch
Interrotto le lezioni di italiano
Etudié la langue française
Worked in Business English

Und jetzt?
Ond jetz?
E adesso?
Et maintenant?
And now?

Living as a language nomad …

Japan – Switzerland painting series

#081 United Colors of Humanity (Mathias Sager, oil on wood panel, F8, 455×380)

mathias-sager-culture-shock-201704#75 Culture shock (Mathias Sager, oil on wood panel, M10 530 x 333)

mathias-sager-broken-culture-painting-201703#73 Broken Cultures (Mathias Sager, oil on wood panel, F10, 530 x 450)

mathias-sager-lost-city-painting-20161224#71 Lost city (Mathias Sager, oil on wood panel, P10 530 x 410)

mathias-sager-red-ladder-facade-painting-20161130#70 Red ladder facade (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil color on wood panel, M12 606 X 410)

mathias-sager-samurai-make-up-painting-20161112#65 Samurai Make-up (Mathias Sager, oil colours water mixable on wood panel (F10 530 x 455)

mathias-sager-facade-painting-20161105#64 Facade (Mathias Sager, Oil colours water mixable, 3 wood panels each 33.3 x 19.0 x 1.2 cm)

#54 Osaka (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 8F 46.7×38.1×0.4 cm (18.4″x15″x0.16″)
#51 Yoyogi Park II (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 53x46x0.4 cm (20.8″x18.1″x0.16″)
#048 Land of the Rising Sun (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 53x46x0.4 cm (20.8″x18.1″x0.16″))
#039 Alp village (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 46.7×38.1×0.4 cm (18.4″x15″x0.16″)
#035 No radiation (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 27.5×22.1×0.4 cm (10.6″x8.7″x0.16″))
#034 No littering (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 27.5×22.1×0.4 cm (10.6″x8.7″x0.16″))
#031 Yoyogi park (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 53x46x0.4 cm (20.8″x18.1″x0.16″))
#028 Never again Fukushima (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 46.7×38.1×0.4 cm (18.4″x15″x0.16″))
#026 Tomigaya / Uehara hills (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board (53x46x0.4 cm (20.8″x18.1″x0.16″))
#025 Kanji II (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 53x46x0.4 cm (20.8″x18.1″x0.16″))
#024 Shinjuki construction site (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 46.7×38.1×0.4 cm (18.4″x15″x0.16″)). Given away.
#022 Old bridge in Kyoto (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 33.5×24.3×0.4 cm (13.2″x9.6″x0.16″))
#019 Kanji I (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 53x46x0.4 cm (20.8″x18.1″x0.16″))
#018 Wakkanai fish market (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil painting on canvas board, 46.7×38.1×0.4 cm (18.4″x15″x0.16″))
#017 Shiatsu (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 27.5×22.1×0.4 cm (10.6″x8.7″x0.16″)). Given away.
#014 Happy Japanese dinner (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 46x53x0.4 cm (18.1″x20.8″x0.16″))
#012 Playful Kanji (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 46x53x0.4 cm (18.1″20.8″x0.16″))
#004 Homey Japanese village (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 41.1×31.8×0.4 cm (16.2″x12.5″x0.16″))
#002 Sapporo-Pontresina (Mathias Sager, water mixable oil colour on canvas board, 46.7×38.1×0.4 cm (18.4″x15″x0.16″))



See it.
You can’t ignore, so open.
Happy natural simplicity? Understand you
live with it.

Believe it.
You must not fear, so dare.
Colorful enriched diversity? Trust you
deal with it.

Act on it.
You won’t stagnate, so share.
Growth enabled genuineness? Choose you
succeed with it.

Be it.
You’ll never arrive, so live.
For all and everywhere? Here and now you
melt with it.