Richard D. Lewis

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Richard D. Lewis
Richard D. Lewis
Born (1930-07-13) July 13, 1930 (age 85)
Billinge, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Residence Warnford, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Occupation Chairman, Richard Lewis Communications Ltd

Richard Donald Lewis (born 1930) is a British polyglot, cross-cultural communication consultant, and author. He claims to speak 11 languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Japanese). Some would argue he speaks only 7, as Norwegian, Swedish and Danish have mutual similarities.

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]

After completing his schooling in Lancashire, Lewis went on to study Modern Languages at Nottingham University 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]


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]

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]

Since 1971, Lewis has been providing residential English language courses for foreign executives in the beautiful setting of Riversdown House, a 14th-century Mediaeval Great Hall on a 40-acre estate near Winchester, Hampshire, where he also lives with his family. Riversdown House clients include SAP, Michelin, Iberia, Siemens, E.ON, Rolls Royce and ABB.[citation needed]

In addition to his career running language schools, Lewis is also well known for his work on cross-cultural understanding. He wrote the book “When Cultures Collide”, now in its third edition, and gives cross-cultural seminars and keynote speeches to international corporations, as well as governments. Clients include UBS, Coca Cola, Deloitte, Gazprom, Nokia, Unilever and the World Bank.[citation needed]

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.

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.


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).

He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Knight Commander by President Halonen in 2009.


  • “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” (2006, 1999, 1996), ISBN 978-1-904838-02-9, 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

External links[edit]