Fons Trompenaars biography and books

Fons Trompenaars - Toolshero

Fons Trompenaars is a Dutch consultant, management trainer, motivational speaker. Fons Trompenaars is also author of many books on the subject of culture and business (including Riding the waves of culture in 1998). He is famous for his co-development, together with Charles Hampden-Turner, on their culture management model.

The biography of Fons Trompenaars

Fons studied Economics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and later earned his Ph.D. from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, with a dissertation on differences in conceptions of organizational structure in various cultures.

Together with Charles Hampden-Turner, they developed on their own theory and culture management model, that distinguishes seven dimensions of culture.

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Regarding his professional career, Fons Trompenaars joined Shell in 1981 and moved into the Personnel Division for Shell in Rotterdam. From 1985, he worked in job classification and management development at the Shell Research Laboratories in Amsterdam. In 1989 Fons Trompenaars founded the Centre for International Business Studies, a consulting and training organization for international management.

Since 1998 he operated together with Charles Hampden-Turner the management consultancy firm Trompenaars Hampden-Turner. Fons Trompenaars has worked as a consultant for Shell, BP, ICI, Philips, Heineken, TRW, Mars, Motorola, General Motors, Nike, Cable and Wireless, CSM and Merrill Lynch.

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Fons Trompenaars quotes

  1. “A useful way of thinking about where culture comes from is the following: culture is the way in which a group of people solves problems. … A problem that is regularly solved disappears from consciousness and becomes a basic assumption, an underlying premise.”
  2. “In certain cultures like the American, Swedish and Dutch, time is perceived as passing in a straight line, a sequence of disparate events. Other cultures think of time more as moving in a circle, the past and the present together with future possibilities.”
  3. “The universalist approach is roughly: ‘What is good and right can be defined and always applies.’ In particularism cultures far greater attention is given to the obligations of relationships and unique circumstances.”
  4. “There is nothing worse than a leader with courage, but without sense.”
  5. “Managers are for the answers, leaders are for the questions.”
  6. “You can tell that with good leaders the difference between knowing and doing is much smaller.”

Publications and books

  • 2009. Servant Leadership Across Cultures: Harnessing the Strength of the World’s Most Powerful Leadership Philosophy. Infinite Ideas.
  • 2008. Building cross-cultural competence: How to create wealth from conflicting values. Yale University Press.
  • 2007. Riding the Whirlwind: Connecting people and organizations in a culture of innovation. Infinite Ideas.
  • 2006. Cultural Intelligence Is Such a Capacity Credible? Group & Organization Management, 31(1), 56-63.
  • 2004. Business across cultures. John Wiley & Sons.
  • 2004. Managing people across cultures. Chichester: Capstone.
  • 2004. Marketing across cultures (Vol. 2). Capstone.
  • 2002. A new framework for managing change across cultures. Journal of change management, 3(4), 361-375.
  • 2002. 21 leaders for the 21st century: how innovative leaders manage in the digital age. McGraw-Hill Companies.
  • 2000. Building cross-cultural competence: How to create wealth from conflicting values.
  • 1998. Riding the waves of culture: Understanding diversity in global business. McGrawHill.

How to cite this article:
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Original publication date: 10/01/2015 | Last update: 11/01/2023

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Vincent van Vliet
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Vincent van Vliet

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.


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