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Richard D. Lewis

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Richard D. Lewis
Born (1930-07-13) July 13, 1930 (age 93)
Occupation(s)Chairman, Richard Lewis Communications Ltd

Richard Donald Lewis (born 1930) is an English[citation needed] communication consultant, writer, polyglot and social theorist. He is chiefly known for his "Lewis Model of Cross-Cultural Communication."[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Richard Donald Lewis was born in Billinge, Lancashire on 13 July 1930. He is descended from a long line of coal miners, originally from Mold, North Wales.[1] [citation needed][2][3]

After completing his schooling in Lancashire, Lewis went on to study Modern Languages at the University of Nottingham and also gained a diploma in Cultures and Civilisations from the Sorbonne in Paris. After attending the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Lewis spent the next two years living and working in Finland, where he learnt to speak Finnish and also came to know and love the Finnish people and culture.[1] [citation needed]


He founded the Berlitz School of Languages in Finland in 1955, and later opened a further 5 schools in Finland. In addition, he opened Berlitz schools in Norway in 1958 and in Portugal in 1959.[1] [citation needed]

In 1966, Lewis founded the Berlitz School in Tokyo and spent the next 5 years living and working in Japan, where he became tutor to Empress Michiko.[1]

In 2017, he claimed to speak 10 languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Japanese.[4]

He is currently Chairman of Richard Lewis Communications Ltd.

The Lewis Model[edit]

The Lewis Model of Cross-Cultural Communication was developed by Richard D. Lewis. The core of the model classifies cultural norms into Linear-Active, Multi-Active and Re-Active, or some combination. Broadly speaking, Northern Europe, North America and related countries are predominantly Linear-Active, following tasks sequentially using Platonic, Cartesian logic. Southern European, Latin, African and Middle-Eastern countries are typified as Multi-Active, centred on relationships and often pursuing multiple goals simultaneously. East Asia is typically Re-Active, following harmonising, solidarity-based strategies.[5][6][7][8][9] [citation needed]

While Lewis' writings recognise these can only be stereotypes, he asserts that his model provides a practical framework for understanding and communicating with people of other cultures, and that the model can readily be expanded with other features, such as Hofstede's cultural dimensions, seen in relation to Lewis' triangular representation.[10][citation needed]


Lewis was knighted by President Ahtisaari of Finland in March 1997 in recognition of his services in the cross-cultural field relating to the training of Finnish Ministries for EU entry (1995) and the EU Presidency (1999). [citation needed]

He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Knight Commander by President Halonen in 2009. [citation needed] He has always promoted the greatness of the Finnish culture in his publications, which efforts have been highly appreciated by the Finnish government and various public and private organisations.[11]


In 2015 Lewis won the prestigious SIETAR Founders Award. This award, with its citation "Making a World of Difference", is granted to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding commitment and service to the intercultural field.[12]

Fish Can't See Water by Richard D. Lewis and Kai Hammerich won the Management Book of the Year award in Denmark in 2013.[13] The book has been cited since then in many highly acknowledged business magazines, newspapers and blogs for its practical approach and tips on how national cultures impact corporate strategies and their execution.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

Lewis publishes regularly articles in the worldwide read business magazine, the Business Insider. His articles focus mainly on tips and background information for doing successful business with different cultures of the world.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32]

In 2016 Richard Lewis Communications plc was "named and shamed" for failing to pay several employees the National Minimum Wage.[33]

However, this relates to a situation dating to 2013, when a change in the system of deductions for accommodation and meals meant that the company inadvertently and temporarily paid less than the National Minimum Wage to some members of its domestic staff. As soon as this was clarified, arrears were paid in full to the staff concerned, and the system was changed to comply with National Minimum Wage legislation. This action was acknowledged in a case closure letter from HMRC in which the Compliance Officer said he was 'satisfied' that all arrears had been paid and that the correct rate was now being paid.[34]


  • "Fish Can't See Water: How National Culture Can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy" (2013), ISBN 978-1-118-60856-2, published by John Wiley & Sons
  • “When Teams Collide: Managing the International Team Successfully” (2012), ISBN 978-1-904838-35-7, published by Nicholas Brealey International
  • “When Cultures Collide: Leading across Cultures” (2018, 2006, 1999, 1996), ISBN 978-1-473684-82-9, published by Nicholas Brealey International
  • “Cross Cultural Communication: A Visual Approach” (2008, 1999), ISBN 978-0-9534398-3-6, published by Transcreen Publications
  • “The Cultural Imperative: Global Trends in the 21st Century” (2007, 2003), ISBN 978-1-931930-35-2, published by Intercultural Press
  • “Humour across Frontiers” (2005), ISBN 978-0-9534398-2-9, published by Transcreen Publications
  • “Finland, Cultural Lone Wolf” (2005), ISBN 978-1-931930-49-9, published by Intercultural Press
  • “The Billingers” (2009, 1985, 1976), ISBN 978-0-9534398-4-3, published by Transcreen Publications
  • “The Road from Wigan Pier: Memoirs of a Linguist” (1998, autobiography), ISBN 978-0-9534398-0-5, published by Transcreen Publications


  1. ^ a b c d “The Road from Wigan Pier: Memoirs of a Linguist” (1998, autobiography), ISBN 978-0-9534398-0-5
  2. ^ “Robert Lewis and His Son Jake: Life-and-death Struggles of the Wigan and North Wales Mining Communities in the 19th Century” (2013), ISBN 9780953439850
  3. ^ "Portraits of 19th Century Lancashire Miners Leaders". North West Labour History Society. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  4. ^ "An Interview with Richard D. Lewis". Riversdown. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  5. ^ Ott, Ursula F (2011). "The Influence of Cultural Activity Types on Buyer-Seller Negotiations: A Game Theoretical Framework for Intercultural Negotiations" (PDF). International Negotiation. 16 (3): 427–450. doi:10.1163/157180611X592941.
  6. ^ "The Lewis Model Explains Every Culture In The World". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  7. ^ Ott, Ursula F.; Kimura, Y. (2016). "A set theoretic analysis of international negotiations in Japanese MNEs: Opening the black box" (PDF). Journal of Business Research. 69 (4): 1294–1300. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.10.095.
  8. ^ Ott, Ursula F. (2014). "L'influence des facteurs culturels sur les négociations achat-vente: un modèle théorique pour comprendre les négociations interculturelles". Négociation. 21 (1): 93–117. doi:10.3917/neg.021.0093.
  9. ^ Ott, Ursula F. (2011). "The Influence of Cultural Activity Types on Buyer-Seller Negotiations: A Game Theoretical Framework for Intercultural Negotiations" (PDF). International Negotiation. 16 (3): 427–450. doi:10.1163/157180611X592941.
  10. ^ Ott, Ursula F. (2016). "The Art and Economics of International Negotiations: Haggling, Hurrying-Up and Holding-Out". Journal of Innovation and Knowledge. doi:10.1016/j.jik.2016.01.014. hdl:10419/190692. S2CID 55803626.
  11. ^ "Defending Finnish culture - Embassy of Finland, London : News & Current Affairs". www.finemb.org.uk. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Richard D. Lewis won the SIETAR Founders Award | Cross Culture". www.crossculture.com. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Berlingsketidende - Business Søndag - 22-09-2013". www.e-pages.dk. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Crossing the divide". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Fish Can't See Water: How National Culture Can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy | Business Digest". www.business-digest.eu. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Eight Types of Corporate Crisis and the Role of National Culture | The European Business Review". www.europeanbusinessreview.com. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  17. ^ "Fish Can't See Water | Book | Management Book of the Year". Management Book of the Year. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  18. ^ "7 Common Causes of Corporate Culture Crises". Business News Daily. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  19. ^ "Company Lifecycle And Culture Change Too Fast Today". Forbes. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  20. ^ Palin, Adam (31 July 2013). "Corporate history retold through cultural clichés". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  21. ^ "Book extract: Start up a cultural revolution | The Sunday Times". The Sunday Times. 3 November 2013. Archived from the original on 16 February 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  22. ^ "Cultural Stereotypes Can Kill Remote Teams | GreatWebMeetings.com". www.greatwebmeetings.com. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  23. ^ "How different cultures say "I disagree"". Quartz. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  24. ^ "Business Insider Deutschland". Business Insider Deutschland. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  25. ^ "Why China Considers Itself The Center Of The World". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  26. ^ "24 Tips For Understanding Russians". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  27. ^ "How To Empathize With The British". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  28. ^ "How A Japanese Salesman Schooled An American Hotshot On Doing Business In Japan". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  29. ^ "This Creativity Challenge Perfectly Revealed The Difference Between Hungarians And Germans". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  30. ^ "North Korea's Behavior At The 1979 Ping Pong Championships Really Said It All". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  31. ^ "This Hiking Story Reveals Cultural Differences Between Finns, Italians, And Japanese". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  32. ^ "What You Should Know About Negotiating With Japanese". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  33. ^ UK Government NMW offenders. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  34. ^ Letter from HMRC, 13 May 2015

External links[edit]