I always wonder how much we know about people from other cultures. My work on this issue has shown me that cultural differences can cause or fuel conflicts and misunderstandings between individuals, communities, organizations or countries; hence the need to study and deal with those differences in an appropriate manner.
I have just found a wonderful article about the Somali piracy issue which is so much in the news these days. The writer brings out relevant cultural issues in a down-to-earth and memorable way. Her description of a culture where contracts are done verbally, without a paper trail, is right on target. Her description of how ransom money is distributed reminds me of a common practice in African cultures where, after a successful hunt, the animal killed is divided according to an elaborate system of who gets what part.
Here is the article, Chasing the Somali piracy money trail.