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Strategies to Overcome the Cultural Barriers in the International Negotiations

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by Dragoş Gabriel Mecu


Studia Universitatis "Vasile Goldiş" Arad Economic

Sciences (Studia Universitatis "Vasile Goldiş"

Arad Seria

Ştiinţe Economice), issue: 13

/ 2008, pages: 192200,


Studia Universitatis "Vasile Goldis" Arad Seria StiinŃe Economice 18/2008 Partea III 192

STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME THE CULTURAL BARRIERS IN THE INTERNATIONAL NEGOTIATIONS Dragos Gabriel Mecu ARTIFEX University, Bucharest, 47 Economu Cezarescu Str., sect. 6, Romania, Abstract Today, because of the development of international business environment, businessmen from different countries and cultural areas meet and negotiate, trying to make business. In order to achieve a successful negotiation, the cultural differences are an important factor that is to be considered. Knowing more about the cultural specificity of your negotiation partner may help you achieve success. Key words: negotiation, business, culture, personality, American, Japanese, proposal 1. Introduction An important component of the management strategy is the specific of communication in the world inter-cultural environment and aims at surmounting the obstacles associated with those situations. Sheila Puffer indicates seven managerial strategies of this kind (Puffer, 1996). Let's observe the attitude of an American, who, coming to Paris, decided to respect an old advice, dating from the times of St. Augustine: "When in Rome, act as a Roman": Mr. Smith arrived at the Paris office of his business partner, for the first time. The phone conversations between them were conducted in French, and Smith, who is a connoisseur of French has been expecting the use of this language in the following conversation. The lawyer introduced himself in French, Dupont, and Smith followed him in his office. After about ten minutes, Dupont, changing the subject, asked Smith about its previous experience in international negotiations. One of the words used by Dupont took Smith by surprise, and he hesitated to answer. One second later, Dupont, in an impeccable English, asked him: Would you like to speak in English? Let's think about an American-Japanese negotiation. Regarding the negotiation as a process of exchanging proposals and counter-proposals, the Americans would affirm their ideas in the starting phases, expecting to make or to receive concessions later. Their Japanese parts would rarely answer with a counter-

proposal. Even if the Americans would offer concessions, hoping for a similar answer, the negotiation reaches a dead end, the Japanese asking questions and expecting answers.

Studia Universitatis "Vasile Goldis" Arad Seria StiinŃe Economice 18/2008 Partea III 193

At the end of the meeting, the Americans would feel frustrated because they already have offered concessions, and the Japanese have not started the negotiations. The Japanese perform first thorough information, which, if is consistent and complete, would lead to the optimal solution. 2. Material and methods The interaction between two exponents of different cultures can appear at various levels, from the viewpoint of those involved: both partners might know well each other's culture, or know nothing about it; one of the negotiators might have no knowledge about the culture of the other, while its partner is familiarized with its culture, as figure 1 describes. Strategies could be developed to reduce the handicap of a constructive communication, through adaptation at the real situation. When a negotiator knows very little or nothing about the culture of its counterpart, he can ask assistance from experts, translators, lawyers or finance experts who are familiar or understand the culture of both negotiators. These experts can act as agents, replacing the negotiator at the negotiating table or can just offer information and make recommendations related to the way the negotiator should act. Example: IBM was preparing proposals for a personal computer factory that were to be submitted to the National Committee for Foreign Investments of Mexico. The company hired Mexican lawyers, consulted with local experts such as the Commerce Chamber and US Embassy and had meetings with high officials from the Mexican Government. These consultants have offered important info concerning the culture and social and political rules and the development of foreign investments in Mexico; thus facilitating access to influential persons on which the decisions inside the committee depended.

Studia Universitatis "Vasile Goldis" Arad Seria StiinŃe Economice 18/2008 Partea III 194

Figure 1 Appeal to a consultant implies other results. In order to obtain info regarding the defining elements of the culture of the other part, as well as the social and political situation of that country, local experts can advise, as the commerce chambers and the personnel of the embassies. This stage is less detectable, some impossible to detect by the other part. However, it is an incomplete strategy, because it does not provide a scenario for the negotiation. The negotiator must select from the recommendations and formulate complementary strategy based on them. Employing an intermediary is a wide-encountered practice, in many cultures and might be an effective strategy in inter-cultural negotiation. This strategy assumes that both parts make use of a third part, accepted by them, in order to facilitate their interaction. Generally, this strategy implies contacting an intermediary before the start of the negotiations and its future participation at the negotiations. The role of intermediary might be played as well by the one who facilitates the connection between the negotiators, the one who puts them in contact ("shokaisha" in Japanese, "introducer" in English). Another case is the translator, who becomes a de facto intermediary during the negotiation. For this strategy to provide good results, the intermediary must have a good knowledge of the cultures for the both parts involved.

Studia Universitatis "Vasile Goldis" Arad Seria StiinŃe



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