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    Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time. I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.

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Ray, you have always raised interesting topics. To weigh in a few thoughts:

- "The East" and "the West" are two words that are so simple, seemingly straightforward semantically and symmetrical. That invites people to simplistically contrast the two groupings of civilizations. If we inspect history, do some linguistic/anthropological comparisons and some cultural studies, it is easy to notice that the East was much less homogeneous in the beginning and did not move together in history.

- To be fair, it is hard for Westerners to get insights into non-Western cultures due to language barriers and lack of exposure. For instance, most people on Earth have seen tons of Hollywood movies but how many Westerners have seen more than a couple of Chinese, Indian or Korean films?

- I am so fascinated by different cultures that I have learned with different levels of success of more than 10 East Asian, South East Asian, South Asian and European languages. Your examples above are all good ones. But they reveal just my point above - hard to overcome language barrier and get sufficient exposure. For instance, the truth to the relation between Mandarin and Cantonese is that Cantonese speakers are forced by politics and cultural history to write in Mandarin when they write. If Cantonese is written verbatim, Mandarin speakers still cannot understand!

- The East is still a useful grouping to me. When we measure or group things, it really depends on our required level of specification. Say, I often use the term "soy sauce culture" to describe the cultures of CJKV, Thai, Laos. Despite the differences within this group, there are indeed a lot of similarities too. But in some circumstances, they can hardly be placed together. Say if you analyze the culture shown by the Japanese in the earthquake in March, I cannot avoid to say that Japanese culture is unique in those respects of discipline and resilience. My conclusion: Groupings like Asia, Emerging markets... are still useful but when we researchers use them, we need to remark. We have the responsibility to ensure our readers are not mistaken. No words are perfect. We still need these concepts to efficiently communicate.

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