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Integrating Culture and Management in Global Organizations


American English: This International Business Language Prevails

6 Book Reviews Review: 7 Product CultureGrams

Global Positioning: Negotiating in the Post-Global World by Dean Foster Just a few years ago, it seemed as if professionals in the cross-cultural advisement field were raising their glasses in celebration. After years of spreading the gospel, the word was out and accepted: working, studying or just plain traveling beyond one’s borders required an expectation for and an understanding of behaviors that would be different from those encountered at home. In short, culture mattered. And in just about every area of human activity, if it crossed cultures, it seemed that cultural differences had to be factored into the equation as a new and vital consideration for success. This, of course, included the process of negotiating: no longer could we seek objective truths about good and bad negotiating in a cultural vacuum, for once we negotiated across cultures, cultural differences would certainly affect those truths.

Recognizingthe different ways that cultures negotiated became an important global skill. In just a few short years, however, globalization has so challenged the relevance of culture that its role is again being questioned, albeit for new and different reasons. If we are all speaking English, more or less, does culture matter? If we are all doing business by a global set of rules, more or less, does culture matter? If global corporate culture is in fact more powerful than local national culture, does culture matter? Predictably, the old questions regarding cross-cultural negotiations have also re-surfaced. Do cultural differences really matter when regotiating in a world already so globally interconnected? Do cultural differences really affect the processes of negotiations? Has  Continued on page 4

IMI 10 Announcing Summer Skills Institutes

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Spring 2 0 0 3 E di tion A quarterly publication produced by the Intercultural Management Quarterly and the Intercultural Management Institute, School of International Service at American University

Negotiating Nuances in Emerging Global Markets: Lessons From the Middle East by Jean AbiNader Standardized mechanisms for business transactions (e.g., financial documents, customs, procedures, harmonized standards, and similar instruments) have not eliminated cultural differences that can impact business decisions and relationships. Problems continue to be encountered where there are differing assumptions about legal terms and issues that lead to competing or conflicting interpretations of the deal. The widespread use of English is only one key in facilitating business agreements. Companies doing business across cultural borders should avoid making assumptions based on a shared language. It in fact may sharpen differences that exist, thus jeopardizing the results.

It is strategically important to determine if it is possible to build effective global business communications strategies and company policies that do not have to continually adapt to local circumstances. The short answer is-yes, it is possible; and no, it’s a recipe for failure. Some recent experiencs in the Middle East region, from North Africa to the Gulf, illustrate the problem. There has been a significant increase in the region in the use of standardized practices reflecting increase participation in the global economy. English-speaking locals can be found from Yemen and Qatar to Algeria and Morocco  Continued on page 8

IMQ Update

Editor’s Welcome

To subscribe or to submit articles to the Intercultural Management Quarterly

We are pleased to bring you this special issue of the Intercultural Management Quarterly, released in conjunction with the Intercultural Management Institute’s Spring 2003 Conference “Negotiating Across Cultures: A Forum for Business, Education and Training Professionals.” As current world events highlight the tremendous value of effective intercultural comemail the Managing Editor: munication and the continuing need for culturally adept negotiators, IMQ strives to capture the most up-to-date and relevant thought on the pressing issues of the field. This edition of IMQ provides some opposing viewpoints and unique insights on the issues facing global negotiators today. Marvin Epstein’s article “American English: This International Business Language Prevails” casts American English as the “best possible medium” for international business communications. From a linguistic standpoint, American English provids vocabulary and gramatical constructs that facilitate business communications, particularly in terms of modern technology and commerce. The relatively low-context nature of the language also answers the “pragmatic imperative to overcome indigenous cultural barriers.” Epstein finally cites the United States’ dominant presence in world affairs as a contributing rationale for the use of American English as a standard in international business. In something of a counterpoint, Jean AbiNader challenges the notion of standardized mechanisms for business transactions in his article “Negotiating Nuances in Emerging Global Markets.” Through the context of the Middle East, AbiNader stresses the importance for negotiators to explore cultural bases for decision-making and communications. In negotiations, he says, there is no substitute for genuine cultural awareness and empathy. In a continuing tradition of excellence, IMQ brings together the worlds of research and practice in a thorough and useful resource for intercultural specialists. We know you will find this issue a vital component of your work, and we continue to welcome your input and article submissions. Sincerely, Kimball Brown Managing Editor The Intercultural Management Quarterly is a student-run, founded, and managed publication. It was established by the International Communication Student Forum at the School of International Service at American University. It combines new and original research being conducted in the field of intercultural management with the applied perspectives of industry experts. The IMQ integrates the experience of students from various areas of concentration at American University. Due to this interdisciplinary approach, the IMQ is a unique knowledge source for professionals. If you are interested in sponsoring an issue of IMQ or contributing an article, please contact the Managing Editor at



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American English: This International Business Language Prevails By Marvin M. Epstein One of the continuing subtexts in the debate about globalization is the controversy over the appropriate language for international business, particularly in contract negotiations. One school advocates deference to the language of the host country in all aspects of commercial intercourse. The corollary of this contention is the presumption that while contracts and correspondence will be ultimately translated into the language of the guest contry, that translation will not bear legal equivalency. Another cadre calls for the simultaneous generation of bilingual (or even trilingual) texts, and would accord legal status to all languages, notwithstanding the absence of directly translatable verbiage in one or another of the languages. (Example: Mandarin Chinese has no words equivalent to any of the vocabulary used in the technology of automated production or the jargon of international marketing.) A reality of the contemporary business world, however, undercuts all monolingual, bilingual, or multilingual preferences. That reality is American English. American English is not just the prevailing language for international business; it is the best possible medium for that universe. The facts rationalizing this reality are three: 1. American English has the riches vocabulary of any known language, with about 500,000 standard words in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and approximately 250,000 scientific and technical words. 2. American English is currently the preeminent language of practice in science, technology, and commerce. No other language- perhaps not even Commonwealth English- introduces and employs on a consistent basis all the requisite terms for both theoretical and applied

knowledge. 3. American English uniquely fills the void of deficiency created by the languages of the most important countries competing in the international arena. Such languages as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Arabic lack the linguistic constructs fundamental to transnational or multinational trade and commerce. Because international business by necessity and circumstance is as much dependent on delicate nuance as it is on concrete clarity, it requires both connotation and precision in its verbal and textual exchanges. Indeed, the issue of language may have ceased to be a primary concern of the major multinational corporations today. Most senior executives educated and experienced in the international arena share a common appreciation for and a working understanding of American English. Companies like IBM, Royal Dutch Shell, and Phillips have long mandated English not only for foreign subsidiaries and markets, but also for internal communications and even conversation. The pragmatic imperative to overcome indigenous cultural barriers has also imposed the common use of American English in international business. A case in point is Japan, where tradition has eschewed written contracts. For centuries, the conventions of Japanese business stipulated a kind of ambiguous “gentleman’s agreement” between principals, sealed by nothing more than a respectful bow. The only written documents, if any were required, were prepared after the fact by functionaries, mainly to define any necessary specifications and/or procedures. Such a loose, informal, and unspecific arrangement could not begin to accommodate the legal exigencies of the post-industrial business world. This milieu typically

involves the participation of multiple nations, multiple companies and multiple marketplaces, all affected by and contributing to the complex social, political and economic environment in which contemporary international business operates. Finally, there are pronounced and powerful geopolitical, geosocial and geoeconomic forces that animate and advance American English as the lingua franca of international business. These forces origniate in and are generated by the unprecedented position of the United States, the world’s only actual and acknowledged megapower. Among America’s commanding influences are those derived from the following facts: 1. The U.S. dollar is the denominator of most exchanges in international financial transactions. 2. U.S. corporations dominate and largely control many if not most of the principal segments of the international marketplace, either directly or through subsidiaries. (Think Boeing, CNN, Coca-Cola, Disney, Exxon Mobil, The Gap, General Electric, IBM, Levi Strauss, Merck, McDonald’s, and Microsoft. Consider also the unique role played by the principal U.S. money center banks.) 3. The United States likely constitutes the largest and most lucrative single market for all of the world’s goods and services. Money and profit talk loudly and coherently when applied to the production and consumption of global products and commodities. Ultimately, the question of language in the global business community is moot. American English is, and will for the foreseeable future continue to be, the sole language for transnational, multinational, and international business.


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the mantra of multiculturalism receded to just a dull background drone in the face of what really goes on at the global negotiating table? From Newton to Einstein Let’s get in a time machine and travel not too far back to a world where the concept of investigating “negotiations” was a new idea. This was a world premised on enlightened scientific rationalism where we could hope to investigate a concern like negotiating, and expect our efforts to yield certain principles, methods or laws about what works and what doesn’t when human beings negotiate. Significant scientific research, in fact, did produce some very valuable principles, laws and methods, in regard to effective and ineffective negotiating, and something of a science of negotiating came into being. However, in many ways, this research mirrored its time, with the end-product being “universals” about negotiating which were true only to a point, that point being the “real world” of multiculturalism. Suddenly, these “truths” about negotiating, when applied cross-culturally, had to be adjusted, for what may have been true in the culture in which they were researched, was no longer the case when moved abroad. The pre-global world of categories, principles and laws unaffected by cultural differences now had to become, in the multicultural global world, more like guiding frameworks or perspectives from which to look at negotiating, but which needed to be bent, changed, re-defined, from time to time and place to place, depending upon the actual people involved. The scientific investigation of negotiating moved from an attempt to discover a perfect mechanistic set of truths to accepting the messy notion of cultural relativism. In short, it moved from a pre-


global Newtonian world to a global Einsteinian world where culture made all the former rules relative. The Original Ten Commandments So what were those seminal scientific negotiating truths? And how did we have to adjust them according to cultural requirements? For starters, we learned that there were essential elements to the process of negotiating. All negotiations, for example, involved considering the following elements: Values: these are non-negotiable beliefs, often used as justifications for one’s position, and they must be understood, respected, and deflected, in order to focus on the priority needs at the table. Positions: these are typically the stated objectives of one side; they may or may not reflect priority interests. Underlying priority needs: these are often the true requirements that one side has, but may or may not be put forward clearly or immediately. A requirement for re-framing:almost all negotiations must be re-framed away from values and positions to underlying priority needs, in order for success to be perceived by both sides. A search for alternative solutions: this is the creative problem-solving process that is the hallmark of a successful negotiation. Additionally, most all negotiations apparently move through several stages, beginning with: Ritual-sharing: a period of relationship-building, where substantive issues are typically not brought forward. Positioning: typically that time in a negotiation where positions are revealed and challenged. Problem solving: typically the end of the negotiation where objections to positions and values are overcome and a search for the satisfaction of prior-

ity needs occurs. And finally, all negotiations generally occur within a climate that is either collaborative (win-win) or competitive (win-lose). Skilled negotiators master a set of behaviors that allows them to manage all of these elements to their advantage, while novice negotiators, or those unaware of these issues, tend to be less successful at the negotiating table. Enter the Cultural Anthropologists What were the cultural considerations that had to be factored into the negotiations equation once the scientific research met the global world? Essentially, that values were often culturally based, that culture affected the degree to which negotiators would put forward positions or reveal underlying needs, that certain cultures were more or less pre-disposed or not to search for alternative solutions, and that the speed and degree to which negotiations moved through their particular stages was also highly dependent upon culture. Perhaps most importantly, we learned that culture played a significant role in determining whether or not the negotiation would proceed in a collaborative or competitive climate, and whether the expected outcome would be win/win or win/lose. These differences were the result of the influence of cultural values, categorized by cultural anthropologists as follows: Status/hiearchy v. egality orientation: the degree to which a culture saw greater value in organization and structure or efficiency and access. Individualistic v. other-dependent orientation: the degree to which a culture saw greater value in independent action or group consensus. Relationship v. rule orientation: the degree to which a culture saw greater value in personal relationships or the universal application of rules.

Monochronic v. polychronic time orientation: the degree to which a culture saw greater value in organizing and compartmentalizing time and activity or not. Risk-comfort vs. risk-avoidant orientation: the degree to which a culture saw greater value in taking risk or moving cautiously. Past vs. future orientation: the degree to which a culture would emphasize past accomplishments or future possibilities. High vs. low context orientation: the degree to which a culture saw greater value in communicating implicitly or explicitly. Process vs. results orientation: the degree to which a culture emphasized detail and process or end result. Formal vs. informal orientation: the degree to which a culture valued protocols and formalities or not. At the negotiating table, this meant that we saw culture’s influence on the negotiation process specifically in a number of areas: The basic concept of the negotiation: Win/lose or win/win? Collaborative or Competitive? This set the tone and affects the climate, and the degree to wich the climate can be changed. The selection of the negotiators: Based on what criteria? Status? Gender or age? Rank? Family association? Or competency, previous experience or qualifications? The importance of protocol: What traditions and customs do we need to follow? How do we greet each other? Where do we sit? Do we negotiate over meals? The style of communications: Is nonverbal important? How do we confirm understanding? How do we communicate disagreement? Risk-taking propensity: Who can say what and to whom and when? How much information needs to be shared and with whom before progress is made?

Decision making: Is decision-making done by a group or by an individual? Do we need total consensus? Majority? Who makes the decision, an individual, or several people? Are all the decision-makers at the table? The final nature of the agreement: Is it a legal tome? A short memorandum of understanding? Or is it a handshake? Of Icebergs and Solar Winds But the time machine does not stop here. If the global world added the factor of cultural relativism to the pre-global world’s analysis of the process of negotiation, what happens to the equation when we enter the postglobal world of today? Today, in addition to considering culture, we must add a third factor to the equation, that being the forces of globalization, which powerfully affect our behaviors, including those at the negotiation table. Today, these profound, universal forces of globalization affect not only the traditional elements of negotiating, but the degree and ways in which cultures also affect the process. In this new post-global world, we must understand not only the Newtonian mechanics of negotiation, and the Einsteinian relativity of cultures, but the environment of quantum forces in which this is occuring. Admittedly, the equation is getting complex, so perhaps updating some useful models could be helpful. A traditional model of culture has been to visualize culture as an iceberg, where the tip of the iceberg-the small perceivable part-is tiny (about 10%) when compared with the larger (about 90%) invisible part. The visible tip above the surface represents the visible behaviors we demonstrate to each other, including those at the negotiation table; the invisible bulk of the iceberg, hidden under the surface, represents the deeper values, belief systems, traditions and ultimately history, that

drive the visible behaviors we reveal to each other around the elements, stages and climate of a negotiation are often the result of deeper cultural values that are hidden from view. Fair enough, as far as it goes. However, in a global world, all the icebergs floating around in the global sea are now impacted by universal forces of globalization, which may be represented by values, technology, mass transportation, mass migration, the fall of national boundaries, the establishment of regional trade zones, the globalization of mass culture and English, etc. When these forces impact individual cultures, when the sun shines on the various cultural icebergs floating in today’s world, several phenomena occur: The visible tips change first; melting (or melding of cultures) at the deeper levels takes much longer, and traditional values stay frozen a very long time; superficial change at the visible level seems to be the same, while frozen values under the surface remain different, increasing the disparity between visible behavior and underlying values; as icebergs melt, hidden deeper values under the surface rise to the surface, become exposed, and increase in their visibility; as icebers melt, the attributes of one flow into another, albeit slowly, and in unidentifiable ways. Successful negotiating in today’s post-global world requires that we understand the impact that these postglobal phenomena have on culture, just as we have had to consider culture’s impact on the original investigation in the global world. Forces of globalization have changed the nature of culture’s impact on negotiation behaviors, in identifiable ways. Of Stereotypes and Archetypes Culture in the pre-global world had four defining characteristics: any particular culture’s attributes were  Continued on page 10




MILITARY BRATS AND OTHER GLOBAL NOMADS: GROWING UP IN ORGANIZATIONAL FAMILIES Edited by Morten G. Ender Review by Barbara Belzer As a compilation of scholarly articles encompassing the challenges facing Global Nomads in today’s American society, this book should have a prominent place in the library of anyone interested in the topic. Someone with more than a casual interest will find information to enhance their knowledge and inspire further research. Within the chapters included in this volume, Morten Ender has included some of the most prominent scholars in the field. With only a few expetions, the chapters are well written, informative, and intriguing. Children who grow up in organizational families have characteristics that set them apaprt from mainstream American kids. For clarification, organizational families are those for whom there is, in effect, a larger family- the military service (the United States Army, Namy, Air Force, Marines), U.S. Foreign Service, the Peace Corps, international corporations, and the like. The organization has an impact on the individual family unit often with expected behaviors that supercede and override the core family unit. Children of families who are part of a larger, hierarchical organization may conduct themselves differently in social setting with their peers, in their interactions with adults both within and outside their community, which is often carried over through adolescence into adulthood. Several chapters address various aspects of the behavior of these children with their extended community of theri organization and their transition into adulthood. Their behavior is beyond representative of themselves and is essentially that of the entire organization and, perhaps

most imprtantly, those children feel a responsibility toward the organization at large. Of particular note are the chapters offered to us by Karen Cachevki Williams and LisaMarie Liebenow Mariglia, Military Brats: Issues and Associations in Adulthood and by Morton Ender, Beyond Adolescence: The Experiences of Adult Children of Military Parents. Both articles reflect careful, thoughtful research and thorough knowledge of culture and intercultural relations. Williams and Mariglia write that the conduct of the child (or children) of a military family reflects not only on the family, but the service member and the service in general. Described in the chapter is the aspect of a closed society, one that is highly associative with ascribed roles of a patriarchal community. It is a well-written chapter reflecting a comprehensive understanding of the socio-anthropological research of Enward Hall and others. Morton Ender examines the cultural separateness adult children of military and other organizational families feel when compared to their non-deployed counterparts. They seek each other out, as they have shared experiences that extend beyond those of their “civilian” brothers and sisters. He concentrated on the adult children with the average age in the study being 39, and it represents the largest study of this group to date. He discusses, among other things, the apparent movement to connect with others who have like childhood experiences and, in effect, legitimizing their experiences “growing up mobile and abroad.” Ender’s research in and of itself aids in the legitimization of the ex-

periences of these adult children. In addition, the chapter by Robert S. McKelvey, Vietnamese Amerasians: In Search of Identity in Their Fathers’ Land, sensitively describes those individuals who may have begun life as “Children of the Dust,” but have a unique bond and community as they became an integral part of American society. As mixed race children, they had no status in the societies of their birth. These children were ostracized, denied any status at all in society and often left homeless and without hope. Not part of society, these children were denied cultural connection with the homeland of their mother, and their paternity being a source of shame. They were, in effect, no more that “Children of the Dust.” These individuals’ unique status given to them in 1994 with the Amerasian Homecoming Act (PL 100202), raised them from outcast status in the country of their birth but it by no means erased the difficulty experienced in their early years. It is noted in McKelvey’s article that further research is most definitely warranted. The children fathered by American servicemen in Asia have faced significant problems in their maternal cultures. Those who came to the U.S. faced even more complex difficulties as their fathers have gone on, in a large part, with their lives having little or no thoughts for the offspring they left behind. Further study can bring better understanding of the challenges facing thses children. In most of the remaining chapters, the overriding sense that the identity formation occurs without thought or fanfare among mainstream American youth is of utmost importance to those  Continued on page 9


PRODUCT REVIEW: CULTUREGRAMS (AXIOM PRESS, BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY) Review by Kimball Brown Even with a broad knowledge of all the modern culture-related concepts (i.e. hi/low context, individualism/collectivism, time-orientation, etc.), a wise interculturalist knows the importance of learning specific customs and practices of a foreign culture, especially when interacting with that culture for the first time. Published by Axiom Press, CultureGrams provide a concise introduction to several aspects of a culture, with information ranging from history and economy to religion and language to eating habits and family lifestyles. Developed almost thirty years ago as a tool for educators and missionaries, CultureGrams continue to be a valuable resource for those about to be immersed in a foreign culture. They are common fare among soldiers, Foreign Service officers and Peace Corps volunteers, as well as educational institutions and international firms and organizations. Among the virtues of CultureGrams are their uniformity and concision. Each four-page country profile is packed with information in five general categories: background,

people, customs and courtesies, lifestyles, and society. Each also contains maps, development data, country contact information, and a “at-aglance” update of events and trends that are not necessarily common knowledge, but add insight to the culture and lifestyle. CultureGrams aren’t your run-of-the-mill anecdotal

“dos and don’ts” travel guides. The information is relevant and up-to-date, composed by natives and experts, and revised annually. The digital version, available on CD-Rom or online, expands on the print version, offering sound clips, additional graphics and information and a collection of international recipes.

These virtues, however, also pose some limitations to CultureGrams. Being only four pages long, they cannot provide a truly in-depth look at culture. And while not weighed down with technical cross-cultural jargon, they do not utilize many of the culture-related concepts that have become standard in the field. Knowledge about “internal” culture must be interpreted from information on the more visible cultural characteristics and behaviors. Another limitation is CultureGrams’ categorization by country, which often restricts the amount of culture-specific information presented on individual cultures within a multi-culture country. Still, CultureGrams do provide an excellent introduction to the customs, traditions, and lifestyles of a culture. And though they are by no means a substitute for actual cross-cultural training, they are a valuable resource for the educator, student, traveler, or interculturalist. Information and product demo available at:

Interested in contributing to IMQ? Have research or experience to share? Please contact us! Intercultural Management Quarterly American University 4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20016-8177 Phone: 202-885-1846 Fax: 202-885-1331

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Negotiating Nuances...  Continued from page 1

to represent most US companies. Despite this trend, there are still culturally determined hurdles that characterize “business as usual.” Informal surveys of business publications and travelers in other emerging markets indicate that this is also the case in much of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. On the surface, people are learning what Americans want and adapting their behaviors to the immediate situation, i.e., contractual agreements, control of time, limited social interactions, and the preeminence of technology. As more and more “business” people now “wear” the same types of behaviors, American goods and services have become less distinctive and face the onslaught of global competitiveness. In pursuing their business objectives, therefore, U.S. companies need to examine their assumptions about dealing in international markets and build on their competitive advantages. This includes checking some cherished notions, such as: “People who talk my talk, walk my walk.” If they speak English, then they should understand how to act in ways Americans can understand and trust. “Price still drives a deal.” If it’s a level playing field, then costs, not relationships, drive results. “Coping with individuals as distinctive personalities is the key to success. Culture manifests itself in groups. Groups don’t sign contracts, individuals do.” Cultural conflict is often observed in business negotiations. In competitive situations, the best and worst behaviors often emerge. Arab expect American behaviors to range from patronizing and rude to acquiescent and docile during negotiations. Americans dealing with Arab antici-

pate behaviors ranging from sullen and conniving to clever and gregarious. After more than three decades of business transactions, Arabs and American have, to a degree, learned what works with the other, from drinking coffee, making small talk, adding contingencies, and gestures of friendship, to being on time, respecting performance markers, and making decisions in “this lifetime.” What has changed in the last generation is that both parties use tactics that reassure the other party that these are serious discussions leading to negotiations. Tactics reflect the here and now, what is needed to get the desired results. If the Arab or American wants to make a deal and accept the parameters that frame the possible solutions, then a deal will happen. If, for some reason, either party vacillates or is unsure, then a series of non-compliant cultural behaviors dominate and divert the negotiations. What is hard to determine, from either perspective, is when the obstacles are a tactic or the result or a decision or indecision not to proceed. Trying to balance the need for results with the necessity of building relationships for long-term business is often when conflicts occur. Americans, in a hurry, want a quick decision from the other party and assurances that all conditions will be satisfactorily met. The Arabs, if they also want a decision, will evaluate the usual deal components (price, quality, service, delivery, payment terms) in a larger context that includes risk, timeliness, and collateral benefits. Most Westerners need to spend more time recognizing how these cultural variables make or break the deal. This will only happen if they spend the time to think S.M.A.R.T. Anyone, Arab or American, can

benefit from thinking S.M.A.R.T., i.e., understanding local cultural conditions that come into play during negotiations, particularly contentious ones. S is for Society. Knowing how the system works and what matters to the people you’re dealing with requires more homework when you cross cultural boundaries. Generally, the other party knows more about the Americans than we know about thema mixed blessing since their stereotypes may be no more useful than ours. M is for Market. How the economy functions and how you can protect your company is critical information. Keeping up with changes may be the difference beween making money and being taken advantage of. A is for Action Orientation. How others make decisions is important intelligence. Ask around, visit the U.S. Embassy; talk with those who have been successful before; then have someone as you reality check. Obviously, decisions are being made constantly. Learn how to get the answers you want. R is for Rules of the Game. The most dynamic area in emerging markets is the growth of regulations governing transactions. Behind these regimes are local practices that still function. Gathering good data will ensure that you’re fully protected and up-todate. T is for The Wish List. Simply stated, the key is to present how the product, service, or proposed relationship meets their goals- the basics of any sales approach. Too often the sales approach is “explaining what’s  Continued on page 9


in their interests” without really understanding their perceptions of the deal. We end up sounding patronizing and glib, at best. For those who are uncomfortable with ambiguity, here are some useful parameters for building effective communications strategies across cultures, subject to kismet oand other reasonable caveats. 1. Gatekeepers, e.g., office directors, play a critical role in managing traffic for their managers; don’t expect special treatment because of your nationality, religion, affiliations, or other considerations. Show gatekeepers the courtesy required to get your item on the agenda and the time needed to present it thoroughly. 2. Don’t take language skills for granted. Speaking English does not mean confidence in technical or specialized terms. Simplify texts and contracts, and be comfortable with small talk. 3. Despite what you hear, try to control your public consumption or use of alcoholic beverages, even where it’s legal. 4. Non-verbal behaviors still have some importance but they don’t expect you to know the subtler eye, hand, and body gestures. Some Americans tend to over-react about non-verbals, which may be better than being an oaf. Watch excessive hand gestures such as pointing in someone’s face; avoid the soles of your feet in someone’s line of vision; and be gracious about people sharing your personal space. 5. Learn how religious or cultural practices affect business transactions, e.g., work hours, prayer times, modest dress, conversations with the opposite sex, acceptable humor, gift-giving, and use of certain expressions. 6. Remember there are different social rules for you and for the Arabs. You are the foreigners, the one who is different, not the Arabs. 7. Learn some Arabic: greetings, forms of address, how to bargain; it’s not too

difficult. 8. Learn how to manage conflicts by using intermediaries and respected leaders. 9. Do not personalize conflicts with the “system” such as lousy drivers, work not done on time, missed appointments, pushing in lines, or other annoyances. Everybody has the same problems; it’s not just you. Does the observance of these guidlines guarantee success? No, but it will certainly make it easier for you to feel comfortable doing you job, and that level of confidence and the right tools are the best road to travel.

Jean AbiNader is Managing Director of IdeaCom.Inc, ( based in Washington, D.C. He has more than 30 years of intercultural business training and coaching experience for U.S. and international clients. Mr. AbiNader is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University where he teaches a graduate course in International Marketing issues.

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individuals who grow up outside their passport “home” in a community that gives them their uniqueness. Of these chapters, especially noteworthy are those of Kathleen A. Finn Jordan, Identity Formation and the Adulty Third Culture Kid and Ann Baker Cottrell, Education and Occupational Choices of American Adulty Third Culture Kids. These authors stress the developmental process of identity formation and the affect it has on the adult lives of the children of organizational families. the research contained within these chapters succinctly summarizes the challenges without diminishing the experiences of adult third cultured kids. This volume was likely a significant challenge to bring together. It is difficult to write on this topic in a manner that is both engaging and represents sound research methods. Research in the social sciences is always difficulty to quantify- to present in such a way that those who are schooled in the hard sciences can appreciate. Morton Ender was able to gather, for the most part, authors who presented their information in a way that is both interesting and can provide a fellow researcher with enough information to include in further study.

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easily stereotyped; these attributes were bound to the cultures in which they originated; these attributes were descreet and independent of the outside world; and these attributes were used to define what made its people different from others. The post-global world has turned these four defining characteristics of culture on their head: any particular culture’s attributes are archetypal, not steoreotypical (that is, they represent human behaviors that are possible anywhere); these attributes are independent of the cultures in which they originated (that is, they can easily be found in many different cultures); these attributes are wholly dependent upon the outside world for their na-

ture and their survival; and these attributes become a primary way to bind people of different cultures together. Globalization, therefore, has not made cultural difference irrelevant, or diminished its impact or importance, but it has changed how cultural differences need to be considered. Rather than reducing or minimizing their relevance, globalization, as we saw in the iceberg, in fact, raises deep cultural differences to a level of awareness, while making it appear as if similarities are developing at a superficial level. The disparity between apparent homogenization on the surface and severe differences rising from below can result in situations of extreme culture clash and dislocation.

Toward a More Complex Equation At the negotiating table, the skilled post-global negotiator needs to manage this quantum environment where cultural attributes may be rising and falling at the same time, in various degrees, depending upon the cultures represented at the table. Skilled post-global negotiators must also be able to re-frame cultural differences into behavioral options that the other side may not have previously known, but which can satisfy their priority needs in new and different ways. Most importantly, skilled postglobal negotiators have to master all three factors in the post-global negotiation equation, in order to be successful in this quantum, post-global world.

Announcing the Intercultural Management Institute Summer 2003 Skills Institutes To be held on the campus of American University in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

Multicultural Teambuilding

Multicultural Management

July 19-20, Lance Descourouez This institute will explore effective communication skills and problem-solving techniques to utilize when working with teams whose members are from more than one cultural background. Interpersonal and organizational approaches will be examined to help participants create tools for recognizing the strengths of and developing cohesion among multicultural teams and individual team members, while acknowledging the contexts in which teams often function.

July 25-26, Dr. Gary Weaver and Dr. Geert Hofstede This institute will explore the topic of multicultural management through interactive methods, while helping participants to develop the cultural awareness and tools to assume leadership roles in diverse settings. The institute will deal with a selection of new applications for Hofstede’s five-dimensional model of national cultures, including culture and personality, the structure of languages, consumer behavior, entrepreneurship, business goals, corporate governance, crossborder ventures, economic development, perceived corruptin, and gender, sex, and religiosity.

For more information or to register, contact Heidi Ashton at or 202-885-6439. Registration forms and additional information available at 10

Spring 2003 IMQ  
Spring 2003 IMQ  

Vol. 4 No. 1 "Global Positioning: Negotiating the Post-Global World" by Dean Foster, "Negotiating Nuances in Emerging Markets: Lessons from...