Global Compliance Training by a U.S. In-House Lawyer: Dealing with the 'Ugly American' Challenge
Robert Lindquist, Chief Compliance Officer, Panasonic Avionics Corporation
In the late 1950s Eugene Burdick and William Lederer penned a novel titled the Ugly American. The book became an instant best seller and a half decade later was adapted a movie which, despite its initial disappointment at the box office, was to earn two Golden Globe nominations. The story deals with the difficulties of U.S. aid workers during the Cold War in winning the hearts and minds of a fictional Southeast Asia country because of their ignorance and disdain of local culture, which inspired not cooperation but resentment among the locals. At the time. i.e. at the height of the Cold War, the book and movie provoked extensive soul-searching by the media and politicians about how Americans relate to the world. The term Ugly American has had remarkable staying power, still being used by foreigners to describe boorish, disrespectful or excessively patriotic behavior, often in sporting contests. Even prominent American politicians use the term when calling upon Americans to improve their image their abroad. The term has even spawned a self-help genre, in periodicals and even on CNN, on how to avoid the Ugly American image.
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