Dr. Charles Hampden-Turner is a British management philosopher and a distinguished business consultant, academic researcher and esteem co-founder of THT. Charles has worked as a consultant for leading companies including Apple, Shell, BP, Digital Equipment, The Economic Council of Canada, BBC, Philips, Nissan, DSM, Dow Chemical, AMD and Sematech.

He is widely acknowledged as the earliest author of “dilemma (or paradox) theory”, first explored in Maps of the Mind (1981).   Charles has devoted much of his life to the investigation of complementarities, tensions, uncertainties and dilemmas.  

In the academic space, Charles has conducted extensive research into global business culture. He received his masters and doctorate degrees from the Harvard Business School and was the recipient of the Douglas McGregor Memorial Award, as well as the Columbia University Prize for the Study of the Corporation. He has won Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford Foundation Fellowships. He is currently based in the Judge Institute of Management Studies at the University of Cambridge. 

Charles is the author of numerous books, including Maps of the Mind, Charting the Corporate Mind, and Corporate Culture: Vicious and Virtuous Circles. With THT co-founder Fons Trompenaars he has co-authored The Seven Cultures of Capitalism, Mastering the Infinite Game, Building Cross-Cultural Competence and 21 Leaders for the 21st Century.

"“We can never grow to become great business leaders until we actively strive to embrace the behaviors and attitudes that feel most uncomfortable to us.”"

Charles Hampden-Turner, Co-founder



We're proud to present insights from Charles
in discussions with Fons Trompenaars on our main subjects 

by Maarten Verburg,
by Maarten Verburg,
by Maarten Verburg,
by Maarten Verburg,

Books & publications

2021. Has China Devised a Superior Path to Wealth Creation? The Role of Secular Values

2021. Culture, Crisis and COVID-19: The Great Reset

2019. Capitalism in Crisis (Volume 1 & 2): What's gone wrong and how can we fix it?

2015. Nine visions of capitalism: unlocking the meanings of wealth creation. Infinite Ideas.

2014. Cross-cultural management textbook.

2014. Focusing on dilemmas challenging reputation management in higher education. International Journal of Educational Management, 28(4), 461-478.

2011. Riding the waves of culture: Understanding diversity in global business. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

2010. Riding the waves of innovation. McGraw Hill Professional.

2010. Dilemmas of diversity: a new paradigm of integrating diversity. World futures, 66(3-4), 192-218.

2009. Teaching innovation and entrepreneurship: Building on the Singapore experiment. Cambridge University Press.

2009. Innovating in a global crisis: Riding the whirlwind of recession. Infinite Ideas Ltd.

2008. Building cross – cultural competence: How to create wealth from conflicting values. Yale University Press.

2006. Cultural intelligence: is such a capacity credible?. Group & Organization Management, 31(1), 56-63.

2005. The titans of Saturn. London: Cyan Communications.

2004. Managing people acros scultures. Chichester: Capstone.

2003. I0 Culture and management in Singapore. Culture and management in Asia, 171.

2002. A mirror-image world: doing business in Asia. Managing across cultures: Issues and perspectives, 284.

2002. 21 leaders for the 21st century: how innovative leaders manage in the digital age. McGraw-Hill Companies.

1999. Is there a new paradigm? The tree in the garden. Business Ethics: A European Review, 8(3), 177-185.

1999. Control, chaos, control: A cybernetic view of creativity. Social creativity 2, 17-32.

1998. Riding the waves of culture. The McGraw Hill Companies.

1997. The seven cultures of capitalism: Value system for creating wealth in the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands. London: Piatkus.

1997. Response to Geert Hofstede. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 21(1), 149-159.

1997. Mastering the infinite game: How East Asian values are transforming business practices. Capstone Ltd.

1995. The seven cultures of capitalism: Value systems for creating wealth in Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands. London: Judy Piatkus Publishers Ltd.

1994. Corporate Culture: How to Generate Organisational Strength and Lasting Commercial Advantage. London. Piatkus.

1993. Riding the wave of culture. London: Breatley.

1993. Dilemmas of strategic learning loops. Strategic Thinking: Leadership and the Management of Change, 327-346.

1992. Charting the dilemmas of Hanover Insurance. Planning Review, 20(1), 22-28.

1990. Creating corporate culture: from discord to harmony.

1990. Corporate culture: From vicious to virtuous circles.

1990. Charting the corporate mind: graphic solutions to business conflicts. The Free Press.

1983. Gentlemen and Tradesmen. Routledge.

1982. Maps of the Mind. Macmillan Publishing Company.

1977. Comment On” Maslow’s Other Child”. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 17(2), 25-31.

1976. Sane Asylum: Inside the Delancey Street Foundation. San Francisco Book Company.

1974. From poverty to dignity; a strategy for poor Americans.

1973. The factory as an oppressive and non-emancipatory environment. Workers<‘ Control.

1971. Radical man. Duckworth.

1970. Synergy as the optimization of differentiation and integration by the human personality. Studies in Organizational Design, 187-196.

1970. Radical man: The process of psycho-social development.

1970. A proposal for political marketing. Yale Rev. L. &Soc. Action, 1, 93.

1966. An existential” learning theory” and the integration of t-group research. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 2(4), 367-386.

Contributions to the
understanding of cultural diversity

One of the core principles espoused by Charles Hampden-Turner is the belief that embracing behaviors and attitudes that feel uncomfortable is crucial for personal and professional growth. He emphasizes the need for individuals to step out of their comfort zones and actively strive to understand and appreciate opposing viewpoints. This approach, referred to as "dilemma theory," challenges the binary thinking prevalent in Western cultures and encourages the exploration of dilemmas as opportunities for learning and development.

Charles Hampden-Turner is a renowned consultant and author who has made significant contributions to the field of cross-cultural management. One of his notable contributions is the development of "dilemma theory," which provides a framework for understanding and managing cultural differences in organizations.

Dilemma theory, as proposed by Hampden-Turner, challenges the notion of viewing cultural differences as problems to be solved or resolved. Instead, he argues that cultural differences should be seen as dilemmas to be embraced and leveraged for mutual learning and growth. According to dilemma theory, effective management practices involve embracing the behaviors and attitudes that feel uncomfortable and exploring the tensions and paradoxes that arise from cultural diversity.

Hampden-Turner advocates for moving away from a binary perspective of right versus wrong or good versus evil when it comes to cultural differences. He encourages individuals and organizations to explore the underlying values and assumptions that drive different cultural perspectives. By embracing dilemmas and engaging in constructive dialogue, Hampden-Turner suggests that organizations can find innovative solutions that incorporate the best qualities of each cultural group involved.

The key idea behind dilemma theory is that by actively embracing discomfort and seeking to understand opposing viewpoints, individuals and organizations can navigate cultural differences more effectively. This approach enables them to create a corporate culture that leverages the strengths of diverse perspectives, leading to enhanced creativity, collaboration, and performance.

Hampden-Turner's work on dilemma theory has had a significant impact on the field of cross-cultural management and has influenced numerous organizations in their approach to cultural diversity. His insights have helped leaders and managers better understand the complexities of cultural differences and provided them with practical tools to bridge gaps, reconcile conflicting perspectives, and foster inclusive and productive work environments.

With Fons Trompenaars, Charles draws inspiration from various intellectual traditions, including the work of Gregory Bateson, Edgar Schein, and Pierre Wack. Their consultations are characterized by a combination of corporate guerilla theater, with Hampden-Turner adopting a gregarious comic role, and Trompenaars conducting in-depth interviews. Their approach focuses on fostering mutual understanding and learning, rather than seeking control or conversion.

Beyond their expertise in cultural diversity, Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars also offer insights into effective leadership. They argue that great business leaders possess the ability to embrace seemingly contradictory values in pursuit of long-term goals. Their book "21 Leaders for the 21st Century" profiles CEOs who exemplify this rare capability, highlighting the importance of balancing diverse perspectives and values.

The work of Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars reflects a blend of European and American perspectives. They acknowledge the American belief in the independence of personality from culture, which aligns with the aspirations of American companies seeking to become global players and reinvent themselves. Additionally, they express a fascination with Asian culture, particularly the Japanese concepts of shukanteki (subjectivity) and kyakkanteki (the guest's point of view), advocating for adopting the guest's perspective to bridge cultural differences.

A notable example of their work is the case of the AMD factory in Dresden, where cultural clashes threatened success. Through a series of meetings and discussions, Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars facilitated the integration of the American and German teams, leveraging their respective strengths and creating a multicultural style. This resulted in record-breaking production speed and successful chip redesigns, establishing a key competitive advantage for the factory.

With Charles, Fons has made significant contributions to the understanding and management of cultural diversity in business. Their approach, rooted in dilemma theory and a deep appreciation for cultural differences, offers valuable insights and practical solutions for companies grappling with cultural challenges in an increasingly interconnected world. Their work has helped numerous organizations bridge cultural gaps, reconcile conflicting perspectives, and harness the benefits of diversity.