The Lewis Model

We are training providers of the Cross Cultural Competence course which was developed based on the work of linguist and leading cross-cultural specialist Richard D. Lewis. The Lewis Model is the cultural model developed by Lewis.

The Lewis Model was developed by linguist and leading cross-cultural specialist Richard D. Lewis. It was published in his book, “When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures” (First published in hardback by Nicholas Brealey Publishing in 1996).

It is based on data gathered from Lewis’s time spent visiting 135 countries (working in more than 20 of them), 50,000 executives taking residential courses, and more than 150,000 online questionnaires across 68 different nationalities.

Lewis came to the conclusion that humans can be divided into 3 clear categories, based not on nationality or religion but on behaviour. 

While Lewis’s three categories are distinctive, each possesses behavioural elements from the other two. It is a question of which behaviours are dominant.

Lewis acknowledges the difficulty in defining cultural categories which could run in to dozens, if not hundreds of definitions when comparing differences across nationality, region, religion, generation etc. He wanted to provide a model to avoid confusion and provide succinctness.

The Lewis Model is designed to indicate with which particular cultural group an individual would have empathy with. Lewis named his three typologies Linear-active, Multi-active and Reactive.


Task-oriented, highly-organised planners, who prefer getting things done, one task at a time in a planned sequence. Arguements are made with logic, while rules are to be followed.

  • Talks half the time
  • Does one thing at a time
  • Plans ahead step by step
  • Polite but direct
  • Partly conceals feelings
  • Confronts with logic
  • Dislikes losing face
  • Rarely interrupts
  • Job-orientated
  • Uses many facts
  • Truth before diplomacy
  • Sometimes impatient
  • Limited body language
  • Respects officialdom
  • Seperates the social and professional

Emotional, loquacious and impulsive who see family, feelings and relationships ahead of following an agenda. They are comfortable do many things at the same time.

  • Talks most of the time
  • Does several things at once
  • Plans grand outline only
  • Emotional
  • Displays feelings
  • Confronts emotionally
  • Has good excuses
  • Often interrupts
  • People-orientated
  • Feelings before facts
  • Flexible truth
  • Impatient
  • Unlimited body language
  • Seeks out key person
  • Interweaves the social and professional

Polite, attentive listeners, who rarely initiate action or discussion, instead react to it and form their own opinion. Harmony and avoiding embarrassment to themselves or others is core.

  • Listens most of the time
  • Reacts to partner’s action
  • Looks at general principles
  • Polite, indirect
  • Conceals feelings
  • Never confronts
  • Must not lose face
  • Doesn’t interrupt
  • Very people-orientated
  • Statements are promises
  • Diplomacy over truth
  • Patient
  • Subtle body language
  • Uses connections
  • Connects the social and professional
Year Established
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The diagram to the right shows Lewis’s visual representation of linear-active, multi-active and reactive variations among major national cultures, based on his decades-long observations and thousands of assessments of cultural profiles.

The diagram indicates the relative positioning of each national culture in general terms of its linear-active, multi-active or reactive nature.

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