When considering that Europe is the world’s second smallest continent yet jam packed with many different countries that abound with differing cultures and languages, it might be difficult to envision being able to find a common ground among them. The creation and continued expansion of the European Union has played an integral role in creating cultural synergy across a diverse group of neighboring countries that make up Western Europe. It is this cultural synergy that has allowed the region be what some may argue is the world’s biggest market, exporter, and foreign investor (Moran, Harris, & Moran, 2011). The successful creation the European Union truly exemplifies why creating cultural synergy is so important to any group or organization.
Synergy is a cooperative action, and occurs when diverse individuals or groups collaborate for a common cause with the objective being to increase effectiveness by sharing perceptions and experiences, insights, and knowledge (Harris, & Moran, 2011). In order to accomplish cultural synergy, all parties must be able to acknowledge differences, be open to communication, want to learn, and have the ability to change (Moran, et. al., 2011). The initial creation of the European Union started with multinational entities of Europe who were seeking ways to unify their economic efforts and eventually resulted in establishing an economic and monetary union (Moran, et. al., 2011). In looking at one of the main ideas of synergy that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, one is sure to conclude that this is very true for the members of the EU. The combined efforts of 28 Western European countries proves to be stronger than what any individual country could portray. For example, with just 7% of the world’s population, the EU’s trade with the rest of the world accounts for around 20% of global exports and imports (“European Union,” n.d.).
Recognizing both similarities and differences is important in creating cultural synergy. The EU does an excellent job of preserving Europe’s shared cultural heritage and helping to make it accessible to others, as well as supporting and promoting the arts and creative industries in Europe (“European Union,” 2013). The EU also spends more than a billion dollars a year to maintain language equality by translating documents into 20 official documents (Moran, et. al., 2011). In preserving the countries’ cultures and maintaining equality, the EU embodies the ideals of cultural synergy in which using the diverse perspectives of various cultures to create something that is greater than each individual culture.
Of the 28 countries that belong to the European Union, I have visited 7 of them. When I travel I like to see as much as possible so I often pick neighboring countries to visit in one trip. In 2011 my wife and I visited 11 cities throughout Italy and Greece in only 9 days. In 2013, along with our then 1 year old daughter we travelled through all of Ireland and into Scotland (the UK). Just a few months ago, the three of us conquered much of Spain and Portugal. It is the efforts of the EU such as the implantation of common currency (the euro) that make travel between multiple countries so easy. Navigating between countries is often seamless and actually very cheap. One-way flights between countries are often as cheap as 19 euro which is less than 25 US dollars. Another aspect of cultural synergy we experienced is that of the EU’s efforts to preserve culture and promote the arts. Europe has a rich history with a deep foundation in the arts. While there is an overall sense of unity amongst the nations, the individual characteristics are vastly evident.
I feel honored to have experienced the cultural synergy amongst such diverse nations. High-synergy cultures such as that of the EU tend to be highly cooperative, community-oriented, and have the good of all in mind. (Moran, Harris, & Moran, 2011). Creating and maintaining synergy amongst any group or organization is key to success. Creating and maintaining cultural synergy has been key to the European Union’s success as it continues to grow and strengthen.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (n.d.). The world factbook. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
European Union. (n.d.). European Union. Retrieved from http://europa.eu/index_en.htm
European Union. (2013, May 8). Culture. Retrieved from http://europa.eu/pol/cult/
Moran, R. T., Harris, P. R., & Moran, S. V. (2011). Managing cultural differences: Leadership skills and strategies for working in a global world. New York: Elsevier.
Pennsylvania State University. (2014). OLEAD 497B: Leadership in a Global Context: Lesson 12: Western Europe. Retrieved at: https://cms.psu.edu