managing intercultural negotiations

Monday 12 October, 2009

I walked in on the end of this presentation by Dalip Raheja, Pres./CEO of the MPower Group, on international negotiations@ the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Global Conference. It’s really a primer on considering cultural context in international negotiations & does a good job at that.  Her’s his presentation CSCMP 2009 – International Negotiation Issues in Challenging Times – DR

Because I walked in late, I wasn’t able to take notes so I’ll just give my take:  on the 1 hand, many consultants make too much of cultural differences.  I think it’s been very rare that a deal has blown up because someone used the wrong fork at dinner.  It’s great if you can learn all you can about foreigners with whom you’re working, but not all of it is relevant.

On the other hand, there are a couple of cultural variables that are vitally important in international business that are under-appreciated & not studied enough, & they are business values & decision-making structures.  The former is less researched than the latter, but we still have a lot to learn in these areas.  Both determine how things are sold & generally how business is conducted, but most Americans are more concerned with etiquette lessons than getting inside the heads of their customers/partners/counterparts.  Business values aren’t always necessarily apparent in the general cultural setting, & thus need to be uncovered.  Decision-making structures generally have been documented throughout the world, but there are many refinements which have not been uncovered.  These 2 items are vastly different everywhere you go, & can vary subtly between supposedly similar countries.   While the Austrians, Germans, & Swiss all speak German, there are distinct differences between each of these cultures, & you risk falling on your face if you don’t recognize them.  Many assume Scandanavians are similar to the German-speakers because they share many cultural origins, but they are just as vastly different.  Dig deeper-you’ll benefit from what you find.

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