Working in a foreign culture

In uni, I did a subject called ‘International Management’. At the time I thought it was a bit of a joke. My ideology then was that everyone was the same, motivated by the same intrinsic things and culture was just a set of rules that could be understood and applied appropriately. 
It seems to me now that is not the case, although I still think the subject was a joke.
That subject focused on taking cultural considerations into account when considering a market for products. It focused on the impact of cultural considerations on the value chain and how this would impact sales and demand. 
No doubt these are important considerations. What seems more important is if the staff understand and work within the same ideology as the staff in the home country?
 I can tell you that here in Dili, that is not the case.
Its a really tough working environment and its baby steps here at the moment. I’m not even sure if everything I have learnt regarding behavioural change, motivation and leadership applies here. In fact, i’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Its a different world. 
The difficult concept to grasp about Timor is that up to 10 years ago, this place was equivalent in terms of business understanding as the UK in the 17th century. It was a cottage economy at best, and hardly even that. The concepts of producing excess for sale, selling services, contracting, efficiency, and mass production are all massively foreign. Can you imagine not understanding that? Can you empathise with how confusing and frightening all this change must be? I can’t, it is incomprehensible to me and probably many who were born and educated in a much more developed system. 
If the Timorese do not understand these concepts, how can we expect them to comprehend the individual motivating forces embedded in them. Of course we cannot, so we need to identify what currently motivate them and how that can be linked to the organisational goals. At the moment a huge goal congruence exists between organisations with western based development ideals and local timorese staff who do not understand how they fit into those goals.