The Difficulties Inherent in Negotiation Across Cultural Boundaries 

In the environment of conducting business on a global scale, it is simple to become preoccupied with the difficulty of delivering our goods and services to customers in other countries, while ignoring the concerns that are associated with the establishment of fruitful professional connections. This issue can be heard during cross-cultural business negotiations, which are situations in which cultural awareness can determine the success or failure of a deal.

The complex nature of intercultural negotiations manifests itself on multiple fronts, each of which hinders communication. These include:

  • Risks on both the political and economic fronts
  • The procedure of reaching an agreement on a deal
  • The specifics of the deal itself

Culture is something that can be difficult to pinpoint; however, when it involves comparing culture to an “onion,” there appears to be a general agreement among academics regarding this comparison. Similar to an onion, culture is composed of multiple layers, the most obvious of which are behaviors. These behaviors serve as the culture’s outermost and most visible shell (as one behaves on one particular occasion).

Attitudes come in second, followed by norms, and then finally values make up the final layer. Some examples of attitudes include the propensity to be punctual. Although they are deeply ingrained in the “heart” of the onion, principles have a significant influence on the decisions that are made in the business. In this article, we are going to discuss how the various aspects of culture influence the decisions that we make regarding our company’s day-to-day operations.

The Role That Cultural Values Play in the Decision-Making Process

Let’s take a look at a straightforward illustration of how moral views can influence professional decisions, such as the hiring process at a company, by analyzing how each of us would respond to the following question:

If you were a manager in charge of employing people, which of the following two factors do you think is more important?

  • The individual is capable of working well with the team (favoring communitarian values)
  • The individual possesses the relevant abilities to carry out the duties of the job to the highest possible standard.

In an ideal scenario, even at the risk of appearing somewhat stereotypical, a senior executive from the United States would probably choose the second component, while a senior executive from China would choose the first. This phenomenon cannot be reduced to a simple East versus West conflict; even within the EU itself, some countries, like Italy, have a stronger emphasis on community, while other countries may favor a more individualized approach.

Is that all there is? Of course not. There may be added layers, such as cultures associated with specific professions, which have the potential to have an effect not only on culture and heritage but also on business practices. Let’s move on to the next section, where we’ll continue our conversation about this topic by looking at a case study example.

Looking at a  Possible Case Example

When discussing different cultures, it is very simple to fall into the trap of generalization, but doing so can at times be beneficial in getting one’s point across. Let’s take a look at an example that has something to do with Italy, the nation from which our organization originated.

Consider the “What Do You Mean Gesture,” which is frequently seen in use throughout Italy. Outside of Italy, this hand gesture can have several different meanings, and these meanings can vary from country to country. For example, Egyptians and Greeks give the gesture of “closed fingers” a very different interpretation than what Italians intend it to mean. If we want to be successful communicators, we need to ensure that we are conscious of the various facets of culture so that we can strengthen our relations with our business associates. Only then will we be able to communicate effectively.

The purpose of this form of apology was to break down any cultural barriers that may have existed and to demonstrate that our intentions were clear. This action served as a shining example of effective cross-cultural communication in the business world. In reality, this action demonstrated an intention to undertake a legal submission in terms of finance policies, as well as a willingness to accept ‘physical’ surrender to the ‘body language’ and customs of Japan as a foreign country.

The “Pizza with Chopsticks” scandal involving D&G is one less prominent example that can be compared to this situation. After an advertisement in China showed a young Chinese girl trying to eat pizza with chopsticks, a contentious advertisement called “Pizza with Chopsticks” was released and caused massive unrest in the country. This video was created to serve as a form of advertisement for an impending fashion show.

However, this advertisement presented China not as a country with a thriving economy that is rapidly acquiring a liking for refinement and luxury, but rather as a nation with rural livelihoods and a society that is not yet fully developed.

As a comment, Dolce and Gabbana released a video in which the company’s founders profusely apologized for the cultural misunderstanding. However, the Chinese media continued to focus on this matter as if it had never happened. resolved, even though the video had been released. Without a doubt, the organization was able to distance itself from the PR scandal with the assistance of the apology, but on the contrary, many experts saw the apology as nothing more than something that was investigated by financial interests to protect the brand’s reputation in the Chinese market, without digging deeper into the core of the issue.

How Does Cultural Difference Impact the Negotiation Process?

In light of the foregoing, when discussing cultural negotiations, we can see that communication occurs within a multi-layered environment, which can be depicted as a sequence of competitive tensions, such as the following:

  • Individual freedom VS.Communitarianism
  • Universalism VS. Particularism
  • Accomplishment (Merit) VS. Status (Seniority)
  • Relationship-Oriented VS. Task-Oriented Approaches
  • Egalitarianism VS. Hierarchy

This is a reflection of the framework that Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions established, which can aid us in defining the primary points of contention between cultures:

The Power Differential

The extent to which the individuals in a society with less power are willing to tolerate an unequal power distribution is expressed by this dimension.

The Battle Between Individualism and Collectivism

This aspect centers on the question of whether people would rather have a tight-knit network or personal relationships, or whether they would rather be left to fend for themselves.

Ambiguity Avoidance

The extent to which the people who make up a society are at ease with a degree of unpredictability and uncertainty is expressed through this dimension.

The Battle of the Sexes, So to Speak

The pursuit of excellence, valor, assertiveness and the accumulation of material wealth are examples of masculine values that are prized in today’s society. Instead, femininity is characterized by a preference for things like collaboration, humility, caring for the vulnerable, and life quality.

Perspective on Both the Long and the Short Term

This cultural aspect can be understood in the context of the search for virtue that is taking place in society. In societies that are focused on the short term, the establishment of absolute truth is typically prioritized.

Indulgence VS. Restraint

According to what is stated on Wikipedia, “This dimension is essentially an indicator of contentment; whether or not one is satisfied by simple joys.” An indulgent society is one that “allows fairly free fulfillment of basic and organic desires that pertain to enjoying life and having fun.”

Its antithesis, called Restraint, is described as “a society that governs the fulfillment of requirements and restricts it through the use of stringent social norms.” Indulgent societies are those that believe they are in command of their own lives and emotions, whereas restrained societies are those that believe that their lives and emotions are determined by external factors.

In That Case, What is the Solution to the Cultural Problem?

The question now is, how exactly do these cultural dimensions impact business relations? The following is a rundown of the most typical disagreements that arise during negotiation:

  • Which Should Be the Goal of Your Negotiations: a Contract or a Relationship?
  • The Right Attitude for Successful Negotiation: Win-Win or Win-Lose?
  • Which Should You Choose: a Formal or Informal Personality? A Direct or Indirect Communication Style?
  • How sensitive are you to the passage of time?
  • Which Is Worse: High or Low Emotionalism?
  • Which Is Better: A General or a Specific Agreement Form?
  • Building Agreement: From the Bottom Up or the Top Down?
  • Organization of the Team: Should We Follow the Team Leader or the Consensus?
  • Risk-Taking – Risk Averse or Risk Prone?

The Question Now is, What Methods Can You Employ to Deal With Cultural Conflicts?

  • In response to your assumption, the other party modifies their behavior.
  • Avoidance, everyone goes about doing what they please.
  • In the spirit of adaptation and harmonizing the negotiation, including the following elements:
  • Adoption is an ethnic practice that involves making use of the other side
  • Discovering something new, putting a spin on things, and taking risks are all examples of adventure.

The Final Thoughts

Are we intended to continue to grapple with one another over our cultural diversity forever?

Not at all; there are a variety of approaches that can be taken to address and rectify issues relating to intercultural communication. Here are some suggestions for things you can do right now to improve your ability to communicate with people of different cultural backgrounds.

Educate Yourself on the Culture

Placing ourselves in the position of the other party is the first step in any effort to resolve a cultural conflict.

Be Conscious of Your Own Culture

We have a responsibility to be conscious of how others see us and to be ready to deal with the prejudices and misunderstandings that may be directed toward us.

Make a Connection by Utilizing Different Cultures

There is always going to be something that people from different cultures have in common, and by focusing on those similarities, we can demonstrate that how we are culturally unique are only a small part of who we are.

We sincerely hope that the post was entertaining for you. We are always excited to discuss how different cultures have an impact on professional interactions, and if you check out our blog, you will find a wealth of information on this very subject. Please take a look at the articles that are listed below to determine whether or not any additional articles might be suitable for your research.